Piston Cloud OpenStack Play Gets $4.5 Million Boost


Open-source cloud player Piston Cloud Computing brought in a whopping $4.5 million in funding this week, cash that the startup will use to beef up its OpenStack software.

The $4.5 million investment was led by Hummer Winblad and True Ventures, with Divergent Ventures and others participating.

Piston Cloud is developing commercialized business software for OpenStack, the nearly year-old Rackspace-led open-source cloud initiative. Since its launch in July 2010, OpenStack has drawn more than 80 participating companies, including Cisco, Citrix, Dell and a host of others. And OpenStack will play a major role in Citrix's acquisition of Cloud.com, as the two are key contributors to the open source cloud initiative.

"OpenStack has seen unprecedented market traction in the last year. There is a growing demand for a cost-effective, standards-based cloud solution suitable for enterprise and we think Piston's team is best suited to deliver it," said Lars Leckie of Hummer Winblad in a statement. "We are really excited about the technology they are building."

OpenStack, which launched its latest release, Cactus, in April, has seen consistent growth, and the next release, dubbed Diablo, is on track for later this month. OpenStack closed out its second quarter with 217 registered developers and 80 entities in a formal relationship, a number that grew to 83 in just a few days.

"This is great news for OpenStack. We're excited to see investment in the community and a healthy ecosystem of both established and emerging companies engaged in the project," Jim Curry, general manager Rackspace Cloud Builders, an OpenStack services, support and training unit within Rackspace. "There has been tremendous interest from large enterprises to deploy OpenStack and opportunity for companies like Piston to deliver secure, private cloud solutions based on the open source cloud operating system."

Piston Cloud, which launched earlier this year, aims to extend the OpenStack cloud to address the security, performance, and lifecycle management problems in today's hybrid cloud approaches. The San Francisco-based company specializes in the federation of large, complex datasets that have regulatory requirements for authentication and access control.

The company was formed by members of the technical teams at NASA and Rackspace that helped create and launch OpenStack in 2010. Piston Cloud CEO Joshua McKenty was the Cloud Architect of NASA's Nebula Cloud infrastructure, the precursor of OpenStack's cloud computing component; and Piston Cloud CTO Christopher MacGown was a Technical Lead at SliceHost, which was acquired by Rackspace in 2008. Rackspace said in May that it will shut down SliceHost within the next year.

Piston cloud has also brought aboard other talent from OpenStack, including core NASA contributors and members from OpenStack participants.

Piston Cloud is currently in a limited beta with a public release expected in the fourth quarter.

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