Piston Cloud Rolls Out OpenStack Update, TCO Tool To Customers

Piston Cloud unveiled its OpenStack 3.5 release Wednesday, adding stronger security features and a new tool customers can use to calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of using its OpenStack to build their private clouds.

Piston OpenStack 3.5, like previous versions the San Francisco-based startup has released, is basically a preconfigured set of technologies for running private clouds on commodity hardware, Joshua McKenty, CTO and co-founder of Piston Cloud, told CRN.

Piston OpenStack 3.5 supports all the latest APIs from the Icehouse version of OpenStack, which was released in April. It also supports Intel’s Trusted Execution Technology, which scans a system's hardware, BIOS and hypervisor at boot time to ensure that the configuration meets security requirements.

One big new addition is the TCO calculator, which lets customers see how Piston Cloud’s OpenStack compares to the competition.

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’I dont mind having the dollar and cents conversation. We have hidden a lot of details, factoring in head count of how many system admins are needed per server, plus power costs and real estate costs,’ McKenty told CRN.

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Other cloud vendors have launched similar tools as of late, and VMware shared data from a sponsored study last month that showed its cloud has better price-for-performance than Amazon Web Services.

Piston Cloud claims on its website that running an OpenStack private cloud is about one-third the cost of running more than 50 nodes on AWS.

Piston Cloud also handles high availability, scale-out, upgrades and updates, further obviating the need for customers to hire additional staff, according to McKenty.

’Your biggest cost with private cloud is labor. If you have to have 20 people to run your OpenStack cloud, it’s the same as AWS. But if that’s a four person team, the cost advantage if greater,’ McKenty said.

Chris Saso, senior vice president of technology at Dasher Technologies, a Campbell, Calif.-based Piston Cloud partner, said Piston OpenStack is easy to use and is backed by top-notch support.

’We see OpenStack as an opportunity for us to add value because it’s something businesses are looking at, but don’t fully understand,’ Saso said.

Saso recently spun up a 5-node Piston Cloud OpenStack cluster to do demos for customers. Piston sent out an engineer and helped Saso get the cluster up and running quickly.

’That’s huge for us because the onboarding process can be difficult with big companies,’ Saso said.

Though Piston Cloud is about four years old and has around 50 employees, McKenty said it’s giving larger competitors a run for their money. One of those vendors is VMware, which rolled out its own version of OpenStack last month.

McKenty said VMware’s first OpenStack product was good news in more ways than one.

’VMware joining OpenStack means we’re winning very clearly on the private cloud side,’ he said.