Piston Cloud Takes Its First Step Beyond OpenStack With Latest Cloud Operating System

Piston Cloud Monday released Piston CloudOS 4.0, the latest version of its cloud operating system that is transitioning the San Francisco-based startup beyond being a pure-play OpenStack vendor.

CloudOS 4.0 maintains Piston's traditional focus on enabling customers to rapidly launch private clouds through automating the complex process of deploying OpenStack. The latest release also expands the capabilities of the automation software to deploying big data engines Hadoop and Spark on bare metal.

Piston Cloud CEO Jim Morrisroe told CRN that's a first for the company -- part of an evolution toward offering solutions that recognize the growing demand for big data frameworks and container-centric development environments.

[Related: Piston Cloud Updates OpenStack Software, Unveils Private Cloud Cost Calculator]

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"The concept of Piston being a pure-play OpenStack vendor is no longer true," Morrisroe said. "We are really rapidly expanding the toolkit on top of our software to allow for more choice."

Later this year, Piston Cloud will expand the system's capabilities to support popular container orchestration engines: the Kubernetes platform originally developed by Google, Docker Swarm and the Mesos cluster manager.

Those container engines and big data frameworks will give Piston's customers a more flexible set of options beyond OpenStack orchestration "and allow us to handle all the plumbing work on top of the x86 boxes," Morrisroe told CRN.

There's been a major shakeup remaking the landscape of the commercial OpenStack community in recent months -- Cisco's acquisition of Metacloud, EMC's acquisition of Cloudscaling, and last week's demise of pioneering OpenStack vendor Nebula all serve as examples of why it's essential for smaller OpenStack vendors that want to remain independent to grow beyond the IaaS layer, Morrisroe told CRN.

Big data engines like Hadoop, Spark and Cassandra are where everything is headed, he said, but those cloud-native workloads need to be able to run on bare metal and in Linux containers, not just in virtualized environments.

"Mind share, especially in the cloud-native community, is really rapidly heading toward containers," Morrisroe added. "Our plans are to have commercial partnerships with big data companies as well as container orchestration companies."

Piston Cloud built out a successful channel in recent years by recruiting solution providers with expertise bringing to market Web-scale server products. Now, with partners like HPM Networks and Blue Chip Tek, the OpenStack vendor is leveraging the strengths of its integration partners to pivot into the big data arena, according to the CEO.

CloudOS 4.0 is the "perfect infrastructure tool to help those VARs and integrators build out their big data practice," Morrisroe said.

Sabur Mian, director of solution architecture at HPM Networks, told CRN by email that the Fremont, Calif.-based system integrator is now seeing a major shift in the market. Its customers are looking for big data and DevOps solutions that include containers in addition to virtualization, he said.

"Piston CloudOSā€™ expansion to include support of other services along with OpenStack is great news, both for our customers and for us,ā€™ Mian told CRN.

PUBLISHED APRIL 6, 2015