Back in 2009 I saw a talk by then VMware CTO Steve Herrod, now a partner at General Catalyst Partners, who described a private Amazon Web Services-like environment where users could provision services with the same ease they do in the public cloud. It was the first time I heard the term “private cloud.” A group of ex-VMware veterans have gotten together to finally fulfill that vision with a product and a company called Platform9. The product is being released into Beta this week and they will have their official coming out party at VMworld later this month.
In addition, Platform9 announced $4.5M in Series A funding with Redpoint Ventures providing 100 percent of the funding. Up to this point they had been completely self funded.
Co-founder and CEO Sirish Raghuram told me he and his fellow co-founders had been thinking about the idea for some time and began working in earnest on the product last October. Just like a baby, 9 months later the product is about to be born.
What they wanted to provide was a system that was as easy to use and flexible as a public cloud infrastructure service like AWS, but that would run a private cloud. Today, too often users get frustrated waiting for IT to provide the services and resources they want, and they simply go around IT and provision it themselves in the public cloud.
Platform9 wants to change that by providing companies with the ability to roll out a private cloud easily. They do this by offering a management layer that is itself in the cloud, and they don’t care if you use KVM, Docker or VMware vSphere for virtualization. It’s worth noting that for now, the Beta version only works with KVM, but support for the others is in the works.
Madhura Maskasky, co-founder and head of product explained that initially an IT administrator signs up for the service on the company website and downloads what they call an agent and runs it on each server. When they sign up, she explained, Platform9 spins up a dedicated instance of the software running OpenStack. She stresses that this is dedicated to your organization. In other words, they do not put your data center information in a multi-tenant environment.
Meanwhile the agent then stakes out the lay of the network land feeding back the resources available on the given server to the Platform9 service in the cloud. When it’s done, the IT administrator can see exactly what resources he or she has available in a dashboard which offers a single view across the entire pool of servers, regardless of what geographical location it might be in.
You can then look at different services and create a template and begin to build access to different services. The administrator can allocate resources by department setting maximum allocations if they wish or end users can sign on and download these templated instances and use them, so if a user needs access to an Apache webserver, they can download a configured instance and have access to it immediately just as they would in a public cloud environment.
The product not only provides insight into the resource allocation pool, it will eventually let IT administrators show departments just how much of the pool they have been using. CEO Raghuram says they may at some point even be able to provide a way to charge back to departments for resource usage, but he said that’s not a priority at the moment because they are not hearing demand for such an ability.
He says right now he sees AWS as his key competitor because today the public cloud does make it easier to allocate and manage these types of resources, but for people looking for a similar level of functionality in a private setting, this service puts it in their reach.
For now, Platform9 has some money to build out their product further, and begin to expand the company and test the platform in a Beta environment. They have a chance to provide that ability to see your virtualized resources in a single view while allocating those resources as you see fit or letting users access them in a self-serve environment.