Weekly Update

Why ServiceMesh was cheap at any price

As I sat down tonight to write my weekly update, my very timely topic was displaced by a news item, namely that CSC has purchased ServiceMesh.

ServiceMeshAs reported by Barb Darrow, “If you didn’t believe the hype around hybrid cloud, CSC certainly does. The IT services giant is buying ServiceMesh, a company that centralizes management of multiple clouds for enterprises that want to mix and match their cloud providers.”

We don’t know how much was paid, or will be paid.  However, considering the importance of cloud management platforms, or CMPs, the deal will net some pretty large benefits for CSC.  That is, if CSC can take advantage of the technology, and understand how to sell it in the emerging cloud marketplace or among their existing customers.

CSC is not alone with this deal.  Dell’s purchase of Enstratius showed the CMPs were indeed of great value in a world that seems to deploy and manage complex cloud platforms.  HP, Cisco, IBM, VMware, and other larger cloud-oriented companies have CMP offerings, but even those guys may go out to pick up one or two in the market that may still be additive to their cloud offering.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company netted $15 million in venture funding two years ago from Ignition Partners.  They have only done some light spending of that funding to yield what I’m sure is a pretty good ROI.

In my travels, I’ve found that many enterprises prefer ServiceMesh due to the fact that it seems to be purpose-built for cloud computing.  The most common feedback has been that it’s easy to use.  The ability to make complex things easy, especially in the world of cloud computing, is always a recipe for success.

What’s unique about ServiceMesh is that it was designed from the ground up with cloud computing in mind.  The product allows those who deploy complex multi-cloud architectures to manage that complexity through a layer of abstraction, that provides push button provisioning of cloud-based resources, such as compute and storage, placing well-defined policies around those resources which automate the deployment and management of cloud-based platforms, as well as protects those platforms during operations.  Moreover, the product gives users the ability to support and automate DevOps, including use of the CMP to interact with cloud configuration management  tools, including Puppet or Chef.

CMP tools are all over the place with how they approach cloud resource management and governance.  However, there are few core patterns emerging.  Most place an abstraction layer between us and the many different interfaces into the public and private clouds, as well as other automation services such as Puppet and Chef.

Moreover, most automate the use of those resources using policy-based approaches that provide the ability to leverage many back-end cloud-based technologies as a single, unified system.  This means we can easily provision across many different types of clouds to manage heterogeneous information systems.  Perhaps we will use one cloud for data, one for compute, another for storage.

The ability to place these resources behind a “single pane of glass” allows us to place complexity into a single domain with good automation and good controls.  This approach trumps the approach of just dealing with the native interfaces, which quickly reaches the tipping point of over-complexity and thus disorder.

CSC has both an opportunity and a problem.

First, the opportunity.  ServiceMesh seems to have nicely working tools that solve a common and ever-increasing problem for enterprises that deploy cloud.  Thus, it should be pretty easy to sell to both new and existing customers.  CSC has a much larger customer list than ServiceMesh ever had, and thus can find more CMP revenue out there pretty quickly.  No brainer if you have the bread to purchase a steaming hot startup with some cool technology.

Now the problem.  Big companies such as CSC are notoriously bad at making hay out of technology they purchase.  It takes them more time than anyone would expect to get the rebranded technology into the marketplace, and, once there, the agility that made the foundational technology aligned with the market typically falls away as well.  Hopefully, CSC will avoid this bad habit.

The CMP buying spree is not over, I suspect.  There are other smaller companies with sound CMP solutions, and they may already be the topic of conversation in the boardrooms.  Although they might be discussed with a bit of disappointment, now that ServiceMesh has been taken.