OpenStack Startup Piston Cloud Adds SDN, Remote Support

Piston Cloud Computing, a San Francisco-based startup, on Tuesday took the wraps off version 3.0 of its OpenStack software appliance, a preconfigured set of technologies for running private clouds on commodity hardware.

Piston Cloud 3.0 includes beefed-up storage and support for Juniper Contrail, PLUMgrid and VMware NSX software defined networking. Also new is a software development kit for Moxie, Piston Cloud's custom runtime environment, which lets its ecosystem partners write their own components.

One of the key things Piston Cloud does is to remove the complexity from OpenStack by providing customers with a curated technology stack that they don’t have to set up on their own, Josh McKenty, co-founder and CTO, told CRN.

[Related: Red Hat Reinvites Startup Piston Cloud To Conference, Waives Sponsorship Fee ]

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"We don't want customers using configurations we don’t think will work," McKenty told CRN. "We have one hypervisor choice, one storage choice and one networking choice. It's limited, but also freeing," he said.

As Piston Cloud attempts to attract larger enterprise customers, which have greater scale-out needs, it's expanding its range of technology options, but in a way that won't impact interoperability and support, McKenty said.

Shawn Scanlon, vice president of technology and services at HPM Networks, Fremont, Calif., has been working with Piston Cloud for more than a year, focusing on reference architecture designs and hardware for private clouds.

With Piston OpenStack 3.0, "We can give our customers much greater flexibility and choice to deploy storage and software defined networking options from some of our other partners," Scanlon said in an email.

Piston Cloud typically sells to the line of business in organizations, which doesn't have a great relationship with central IT, McKenty said. "It's actually shadow IT to some extent," he said.

Piston Cloud 3.0 includes a feature that lets its support team log into customers' private clouds remotely using SSH tunneling. "What's ironic is that central IT likes this feature. The way we tie a connection to this specific trouble ticket system means they don't feel like it's a security risk," McKenty said.

Piston Cloud 3.0 includes features that are "substantial and powerful," Bryan Turbow, founder and CTO of BroadCloud, a Las Vegas-based partner, told CRN.

"Besides better performance and bug fixes, third-party support for Hyper-V, KVM and Xen give us more tools and help our strategy to penetrate the enterprise market by allowing Piston to co-exist with these platforms," Turbow said. "This allows us to integrate the platforms and it further blurs the line between the different environments and reduces the barriers to begin implementing VMs on Piston."

Customers can kick the tires on Piston Cloud 3.0 through a 90-day free trial period. If they like it, they can buy an annual software subscription license, which includes an automated, online update service and 24×7 customer support.