Piston Cloud Launches pentOS, An Enterprise OpenStack Distribution

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Piston Cloud Computing, Inc. is today emerging from stealth and introducing its new enterprise-ready cloud operating system for private clouds called pentOS. The new OS is built on OpenStack, the open source IaaS cloud computing project that now has over 1,450 contributors and 110 participating companies, including NASA, Rackspace, Citrix, Intel, Cisco, Arista Networks, Microsoft and Dell.

With pentOS (Piston Enterprise OSTM), the focus is on the private cloud environment, an area which has been somewhat neglected in today’s OpenStack landscape. The new OS addresses enterprise’s most pressing concerns, including security, compliance and integration with existing systems.

For starters, unlike OpenStack, which is a cloud automation layer, not an operating system, pentOS is bare metal up, built on a hardened Linux distro that doesn’t include anything expect what’s required to run OpenStack. It also includes the industry’s first implementation of CloudAudit, a cross-industry standard launched in early 2010 to automate the process of auditing cloud service providers, and which has become the security standard for OpenStack.

In addition, pentOS comes with Piston CloudKey, essentially a USB stick that lets you edit a single config file to make changes to a private cloud. When you’re ready to deploy those changes, just pop the USB key into a switch, and the switch will automatically install the software to the servers. It’s a 99.99% automated, hand-free installation, says Piston Cloud.

PentOS is based on open standards and is designed to be vendor agnostic. It supports a variety of switches and servers. At present, Arista switches are supported, but those from HP and Force10 will be supported soon. It can also run alongside other public or private cloud environments, including those from Rackspace, Dell, Amazon, Internap, Korea Telecom and more.

The software will be available as a preview starting October 3rd, and will become commercially available on November 29th. Licensing will be on a per server basis and subscription packages will include annual support. Pricing has yet to be determined.

Piston Cloud’s CEO and Co-founder, Joshua McKenty, was technical lead and cloud architect of NASA’s Nebula Cloud Computing Platform, which formed the cornerstone of the OpenStack project. He currently holds an appointed seat on the OpenStack Project Policy Board. Meanwhile, Piston Cloud’s CTO and Co-founder Christopher MacGown was technical lead at Slicehost, acquired by Rackspace in 2008.

The company raised $4.5 million in Series A funding back in July, in a round led by Hummer Winblad and True Ventures, with Divergent Ventures and others participating.