Cloud computing consultancy Cloudscaling is realigning its business around the open-source OpenStack framework, and it has a message for the world: If you want to use open-source software but operate like Amazon Web Services, we’re your man. The company, which has helped build public clouds for the likes of Korea Telecom and Internap, is putting its consulting muscle behind a new OpenStack-based software platform that is built with webscale in mind.
For the uninitiated, OpenStack is a set of open-source cloud-computing building blocks currently being developed and used by a large number of IT heavyweights. Founded as an open source project in July 2010 by Rackspace and NASA, OpenStack members now include Cisco, HP, Dell, Citrix and dozens more vendors. Many are already selling or in the midst of creating software and/or services based on the technology. The goal is to create something that can compete with the likes of VMware and Amazon by making it relatively inexpensive to deploy, and that promises users interoperability across a large ecosystem of OpenStack-based public and private clouds.
However, according to Cloudscaling Founder and CTO Randy Bias — who also played a large role in building GoGrid’s cloud infrastructure as an early employee there — the core OpenStack code and even most of the commercially available distributions of it aren’t suitable for building webscale clouds that actually let a provider operate like AWS does. OpenStack is “completely devoid” of tools for managing, analyzing and scaling a large cloud infrastructure, he said, and when Cloudscaling has helped cloud providers build their OpenStack-based offerings in the past, it ended up building these features itself.
“A lot of the OpenStack community is focused on adding sexy features at the expense of features that bring robustness and scalability,” Bias told me during an interview this week, but running a cloud takes more than just slick software.
That’s why Cloudscaling is going to announce next week its new business model centered around what it calls the Cloudscaling OCS (Open Cloud System). OCS contains three components, which the company explains thusly:
Open Cloud OS: An OpenStack-powered cloud operating system for production cloud deployments. Open Cloud OS extends core OpenStack software with production capabilities and features including management, scalability, security, and performance.
Hardware Blueprints: Proven deployment configurations for compute, storage, and networking equipment. Hardware blueprints detail turn-key, scale-engineered hardware configurations to meet specific price/performance and availability targets.
CloudBlocks: Cloudscaling’s unified architecture integrates Open Cloud OS with hardware reference blueprints to define modular cloud building blocks.
Cloudscaling is launching OCS along with partners Arista Networks and Quanta Computer Technologies, both of which are heavily involved in efforts to commoditize the gear within webscale data centers. Quanta is a particularly interesting partner, as it builds servers for a number of major server vendors, and was the company tasked with building Facebook’s custom-designed Open Compute servers. Bias wrote on his blog in October, “My money is on the success of [Open Compute Project] and Cloudscaling has designs we hope to push back.”
“We steal a lot of pages from the book of Amazon network art, as well,” Bias told me, which — along with its hardware partnerships — actually says a lot about the customers to which Cloudscaling is selling. As CEO Michael Grant explained, Cloudscaling isn’t going after legacy workloads that other cloud-software vendors tend to target. Instead, it’s targeting customer-facing clouds from carriers and MSPs, Internet applications from companies like Facebook, and entirely new applications within large enterprises. The types of applications, Bias said, that need the ability to spin up 1,000 instances for 15 minutes, and then scale back down with ease.
Cloudscaling might find itself in a tough competitive spot trying to sell OpenStack software and services against the likes of large companies Rackspace, Dell, Citrix and others, but Bias thinks his company’s experience in building numerous large clouds will carry the day. Perhaps he has good reason to be confident: Cloudscaling’s latest customer win is AT&T, which announced its OpenStack-based developer cloud at CES in January.
Feature image courtesy of Facebook.