Piston: No Place For Puppies In Software-Defined Data Center

Piston Cloud Computing’s Enterprise OpenStack 2.0, a turnkey, bare-metal cloud operating system for deploying and managing a private Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud environment, is now in open beta and can be downloaded free for 90 days. The company said the industry’s first commercial OpenStack solution now delivers a truly lights-out model for the software-defined data center and improved API support for businesses that want to end their dependency on Amazon Web Services (AWS). It is available through an annual subscription license, which includes an automated, online update service, and access to 24×7 customer care after the trial period.

“Everything we did to 2.0 falls into two buckets from a business perspective, either things we planned to do with 1.0,” or based on customer feedback and requirements, said Josh McKenty, founder, products and vision. While not a rocket scientist, he was the Technical Architect of NASA’s Nebula Cloud Computing Platform and the OpenStack compute components, and a board member of the OpenStack Foundation.

“Josh is certainly an open source rocket science,” said CEO Jim Morrisoe, who came over from VMware, by way of the Zimbra acquisition, where he had been SVP and GM. “The intent [with Piston Cloud] is bring OpenStack to the enterprise, which Josh implemented at NASA.

“OpenStack is very complex,” he said, “and to scale deployment it needs to be a lot less complex. So we built extensions in V1, and more in V2.”

There were a few surprises along the way with the first version of the product, said McKenty. “We really wanted to help the market explore what size of company could naturally fit into a private cloud environment.” A big surprise was the number of companies that were interested, especially in verticals like banks, healthcare and government agencies.

If not a surprise, then certainly noteworthy was that a lot of the companies interested in Piston Enterprise OpenStack 1.0 were coming from Amazon. “It wasn’t just big companies, but even smaller companies, for a number of reasons.” Reasons varied from economics and lack of choice to what McKenty called the mass market support of Amazon. He likened it to the puppy-versus-cow analogy first attributed to Microsoft. “The servers in today’s data center are like puppies — they’ve got names and when they get sick, everything grinds to a halt while you nurse them back to health.”

Piston’s approach is to manage servers like cows. “A cow server has a number and when it gets sick, you shoot it in the head and the herd can move on.” We allow you to deal with physical servers as cows, or cattle, he said.

The new release is based on OpenStack Folsom, which first debuted last September, although its successor, Grizzly officially hit general availability last week. As for why go with the older reease, McKenty stressed that his customers are looking for stability and reliability.

“I look at the rate of security defects found against the brand new release and I don’t think my customers want to be to be on the bleeding edge,” McKenty said. “They want cutting edge, but they don’t want to be bleeding from it.”

New and expanded features and benefits include:

-out of the box storage: using Ceph, a commercially supported open source software storage solution, the company’s Null-Tier Architecture approach delivers a complete virtual SAN solution using nothing but direct-attached drives off of the same servers that provide capacity for virtual machines;

-add VMs in less than a second: with Virtual Memory Streaming (VMS), a commercial extension to KVM that provides true live migration and powerful multi-server memory oversubscription;

-SDN compatibility: automates the configuration and management of a best practices network configuration, including traffic shaping and L2 segregation;

-automated provisioning and management: with MoxieHA high-availability technology, users can perform security updates, apply complete system upgrades or re-balance VMs, without system or VM downtime;

-configuration management without the configuration: CloudBoot is a system orchestration framework that detects and provisions hardware using an Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) and netboots the nodes to a hardened, embedded Linux environment and then passes off system control to MoxieHA; and,

-more hardware options: 100% interoperable with other OpenStack products and can be deployed on commodity hardware from any major x86 vendor, including IBM, Dell, Cisco, HP and Supermicro, in combination with modern network switching hardware.


Author: Steve Wexler

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