Startup Platform9 Exits Stealth, Says Its Approach To Cloud Management Is Better Than VMware's

Platform9, a startup co-founded by several former VMware engineers, came out of stealth mode Tuesday with a cloud-based management tool it claims can turn an organization's existing servers into a smoothly running private cloud.

Cloud management is a red hot market, and VMware is one of many vendors selling technology aimed at helping organizations get a handle on their virtual environments.

What's different about Platform9 is that its executive team has seen firsthand where VMware has fallen short, and they've come up with what they consider to be a better approach.

[Related: VMware Partners Aren't Putting Much Stock In AWS, Azure Cloud Benchmarking Comparisons]

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Sirish Raghuram, CEO and co-founder of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Platform9, told CRN his company's cloud management tool can give organizations an easy-to-use public cloud-like infrastructure that runs on servers in their data centers.

"There are advantages to cloud-based management. Developers like the ability to go to cloud infrastructure, spin up VMs and get work done. But they don’t have a great way to do this," Raghuram said in a recent interview.

Platform9 is currently in beta for KVM support and has technical previews for Docker and vSphere. Platform9 is based on OpenStack and is fully compatible with its APIs, according to Raghuram.

Raghuram said it's easy for customers to get up and running with Platform9. When they sign up, a dedicated OpenStack instance gets spun up for them, and IT admins download and install a 4 MB agent onto the servers they want to manage in their private cloud, said Raghuram.

Once the agent is installed, it gathers metadata about servers running in the environment and how much capacity they have available. Then it logically transforms the server infrastructure into a private cloud, Raghuram said.

During their time at VMware, Raghuram and his fellow co-founders worked on vCloud Director, a cloud-management platform that abstracts virtualized resources and makes them available to users through a self-service catalogue.

vCloud Director's built-in automation was designed to handle time consuming IT tasks -- such as configuring a network -- in minutes. But the product has been slow to catch on with VMware's enterprise customers.

"We were in the thick of things trying to get vCloud Director to work and increase adoption. But the reality is that vCloud Director was designed to solve heavy service provider problems, and it didn't take off in the enterprise," Raghuram said.

Platform9 believes a SaaS-based cloud-management tool is a better approach than what VMware offers with its vCloud Director and its vCenter management software.

Giving IT a centralized view of what's happening in their environments helps reduce friction with users, Madhura Maskasky, co-founder and head of product at Platform9, told CRN.

"Cloud-managed can make everyone's life easier and there's no complex software to set up and maintain," Maskasky said.

Gopal Koratana, CTO at Vendormate, an Atlanta-based firm that sells a cloud-based procurement tool to healthcare providers, said he's been using Platform9 for the past four months.

Vendormate relies heavily on open source technology and used Platform9 when it decided to build its own private cloud infrastructure. So far, that's been working out well, Koratana said.

"One thing that's fascinating about Amazon is how easy it is to get a full view of your entire cloud infrastructure. Platform9 gives us all the same capabilities," Koratana said.

Platform9 is offering free trials on its website and Raghuram said the startup is exploring opportunities to work with channel partners.

Platform9 has also landed $4.5 million in Series A funding from Redpoint Ventures.