ZeroStack Hopes To Put Private Clouds Within Reach of Mid-Market

ZeroStack, a company that hopes to help mid-market companies set up a private cloud more easily, exited stealth today and announced $5.6 million in Series A funding.

The round was led by Foundation Capital. ZeroStack also announced that Mark Leslie, founder and CEO and Veritas will be joining the board of directors.

The promise of private clouds has been mostly confined to larger enterprises where they have the advantage of large staffs and big budgets to deal with the cost and complexity related to setting one up, ZeroStack CEO Ajay Gulati told TechCrunch.

There are companies solving these problems on the high end like VMware, OpenStack and Microsoft, but there aren’t many companies attacking this for mid-tier companies.

That’s where ZeroStack comes in. It’s aiming at companies with between 50 and 1000 employees — the types of companies that don’t have the financial or human resources to implement something like this.

Private clouds enable a company to set up IT portals where developers and others can provision software, compute resources and programming tools without help from IT. It’s similar to a public cloud offering, but it’s run from behind the safety of your own firewall.

ZeroStack uses a two-tiered approach. IT installs one or more servers in a rack in the usual fashion, then sets up the private cloud by installing and managing all of the resources on virtual machines in an administrative console that’s — surprise — in the cloud.

ZeroStack seeds the portal with a couple of sample VMs, but to be meaningful customers are going to have to upload their own. The marketing hype says you can install one of these in 15 minutes, and while the actual act of creating the portal in the cloud only takes only a few minutes, it will take longer when you figure in setting up the rack and generating your own VMs.

Overall though, Gulati claims the amount of time, personnel and cost it takes to do this in a traditional way is cut 40 to 60 percent using ZeroStack, which if true, would be significant for companies in the target range.

It’s worth noting that the solution requires that you use ZeroStack hardware and software for this to work, so you can’t bring your own equipment to the table. That could be a limitation for companies with existing investments in hardware and software.

What’s more, it seems the more obvious answer for these smaller companies is to simply use public cloud resources. That’s the perfect use case for companies this size, but this doesn’t help companies looking for the control of a private cloud, of course. What’s more, as Gulati pointed out, public cloud resources can get expensive as the workloads get larger.

The product went into Beta in June and it’s emerging this week, with a coming out party at VMworld. With 20 employees and around 10 customers, ZeroStack is obviously just getting started, but Gulati sees a real need in the target mid-tier market. Time will tell if he’s right.