Cloudistics defines itself as a “cloud software platform company, enabling enterprises and service providers to deliver cloud services.” But what does this actually mean in practice — what need does it respond to, and how can organisations go about it?
I met with Chris Hurst, VP EMEA of Cloudistics, to discuss what’s behind the curtain.
- Let’s strip away all of the technical terms — what does Cloudistics look like? Which elements are your own IP?
When you take delivery of a Cloudistics Ignite solution you get a rack-mounted set of equipment, comprising processing, networking and all-flash storage. The hardware is generic and industry-standard —what Cloudistics brings to the party is an integrated software-defined technology platform that enables you to manage and allocate resources in the same way that you would manage resources from a public cloud provider. The platform is designed so that you don’t have to manage hardware and can focus on what is most important to you – business applications.
Customers can start with a base and scale to multi-site and multi-geo infrastructures with predictable economics and performance, just like with public cloud. It is essentially a software-defined Infrastructure as a Service platform, and partners can build PaaS-type services on top: We manage the private cloud from the cloud, with one SaaS-based management portal for all your Cloudistics platforms. In terms of our IP, or our secret sauce if you like, this is mostly in the network layer — networking has been the missing element of other ‘composable’ solutions to date.
We address that missing element by abstracting the hardware, turn everything into resource pools that can be composed into a physical or logical virtual data center for each tenant on the platform. Cloudistics takes it a step beyond software-defined networking (SDN) towards network platform virtualization (NPV). Importantly, because we remove the restrictions of file systems and clusters, we reduce complexity while increasing performance and flexibility.
- So, it’s cloud-in-a-box, cool. As an enterprise customer, won’t I still have to manage the hardware?
We work with channel partners and managed service providers to deliver pre-emptive support services, through our “Accelerate” channel program. The experience is transparent to the customer organisation, which can treat provisioning of Cloudistics-based infrastructure in the same way as it would services from any other cloud provider. Cloudistics is purposely engineered to provide a premium experience due to its “customer inspired design”, as described above.
A key component is the manner in which we provide support. Our approach to support is based on an “anti-public cloud experience” – whatever support you’d expect to get from public cloud providers, ours is the opposite, because the number one most common complaint we hear from customers is that they can’t get adequate support from public cloud providers. Our EarlySense Support offers a single point of contact to call for all hardware and software support. Phone-home functionality is taken to the next level with a response that includes proactive parts dispatch, and chat support within the cloud controller. We also include one button log collection and retrieval for the entire stack, plus non-disruptive, automated product updates.
The resulting “customer inspired cloud” fits seamlessly into a customer’s datacenter or co-location facility, where it operates free of any hardware-specific dependencies and is programmatically extensible with automation, orchestration, performance and security built in. For organisations that need to digitally transform or to repatriate apps, data and services from the public cloud, Cloudistics offers compelling possibilities.
- Why would I bother, rather than using the public cloud?
Organisations like the consumption model of the public cloud, but IT doesn’t know how to leverage the model properly, and it is well known that procurement struggles with it. The result generally means higher costs. Cloudistics essentially situates a cloud-based solution behind the firewall, creating an easy-to-consume model, which works in the way organisations want to operate. Cloudistics has all the benefits of public cloud, without the overheads. We see the emphasis as having shifted from cloud itself to cloud functionality as an enabler for digital transformation, and this is where Cloudistics shines.
For the record, we don’t have an anti-public-cloud position. If a workload is an appropriate fit for AWS, by all means go there; you can also burst workloads from Cloudistics onto the public cloud. However, good, solid infrastructure is still the best way to do many things.
- What about applications – can I use my existing licenses?
Integrated with Cloudistics Ignite is our hosted Application Marketplace, featuring pre-built, ready-to-run, and reusable application virtual machine templates — this enables customers to deploy enterprise applications as you would from a smartphone. In this unique space, Cloudistics provides hardened and tuned images that are ready for deployment; enabling rapid application deployment for our customers.
Let’s spend a moment considering the significance of this. Cloudistics customers are truly amazed by how easy it is to launch applications in a self-service capacity, thanks to this marketplace where we provide you with the capabilities to deliver applications rapidly; in most cases within five minutes, versus the hours you are accustomed to. On top of that we are agnostic about the software and applications you use, and so allow you to use your existing licenses.
- What about capacity planning — should I need another box?
Cloudistics arrives as a set of software-defined server processing, storage and network resources. While you have absolute control of your hardware, we monitor the platform for you and work through partners to ensure that you do not run out of capacity. At the same time, someone within your organisation needs to be in charge of capacity planning, because as with public cloud, customers are able to oversubscribe hardware but we do assist by closely monitoring this and alerting administrators.
The entire platform is built for an IT generalist to run and scales rapidly. Installation of new compute or storage is automatically recognized and a wizard drives the addition of capacity without any disruption to workloads. The platform is also heavily supported with a built-in analytics engine that provides historic performance and usage reports, and stores historical records for one year. In all, we give the customer the tools needed to make wise decisions about growth and their future needs.
My take: looking to the longer term of cloud orchestration
Cloudistics is not the first vendor to come up with a ‘cloud-in-a-box’ solution, but it is pretty bullish about having resolved many of the issues that differentiate such offerings from an integrated virtualisation/orchestration stack — notably around networking. The company wouldn’t exist if the market need wasn’t there: this is less a backlash against public cloud, and more an acceptance that there’s more to infrastructure provisioning than the peace of mind of the public cloud. Notably procurement and data governance, but also (in these increasingly data-oriented times) network bandwidth requirements, the old adage about moving processing as close as possible to data remains true.
As does the adage about cloud simply meaning your VMs on somebody else’s tin. While AWS has made hay over the past decade, nobody has a monopoly on clever orchestration technology, nor on efficient outsourcing models. From a wave of cloud-based centralisation, we are likely to see a redistribution of processing, storage and networking based on architectural and other criteria: you only have to look at the Internet of Things, or the increasing power and capability of local processing hubs, to realise this.
In the future, all organisations should be looking to position technology resources in all places where they might be useful, and then operate a management layer that make most cost-effective, performant use of all of them. Cloudistics has a short-term play in repatriating cloud-based processing to inside the firewall, but has its work cut out if it wants to become the de facto orchestration layer of the future.