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A Higher Gear: OpenStack Startup Platform9 Launches Channel Program

The self-service OpenStack vendor's new program lets partners sign up for formal financial and training incentives, collaborate with Platform9 engineers and request on-site visits.

Platform9, an OpenStack startup that's looking to simplify deployment and management of the open-source cloud operating system, launched a formal channel program Monday.

Sirish Raghuram, the company's co-founder and CEO, told CRN that sales and marketing efforts are kicking into another gear as Platform9 sees greater traction with enterprise customers, and a formal channel structure will help build on that momentum.

The startup, co-founded by former VMware engineers in Sunnyvale, Calif., sells a cloud-based management platform that helps companies quickly deploy self-service OpenStack private clouds within their existing data center environments.

[Related: The 10 Coolest Virtualization Startups Of 2015]

Platform9 has been piloting the channel program for four months and is launching with more than a couple of dozen partners.

"We've already seen them bring in customers and source customers and close customers by themselves," Raghuram said, adding that "all the business we get inbound gets closed by the channel."

Platform9 takes a Software-as-a-Service approach to deploying OpenStack, offering a dashboard that enables visibility into infrastructure across compute, storage, network and existing workloads, said Raghuram. The service is agnostic to both hardware and the virtualization platform that underlies it.

"Our customers can use OpenStack and leverage it without having to deal with the complexity of deploying, monitoring, troubleshooting and managing OpenStack," he said.

Many of the inaugural partners already have hardware practices focused around Cisco Systems, NetApp and VCE. "They can continue to do all of that and just lay an OpenStack overlay on top of that," Raghuram told CRN.

The new channel program allows partners to sign up for formal financial and training incentives, collaborate with Platform9 engineers and request on-site visits from them. The program defines financial incentives for business Platform9 brings to its channel, and for business that partners generate.

The advance of OpenStack in the enterprise market is striking, Raghuram told CRN.


At the OpenStack Summit in Austin, Texas, a couple of weeks ago, Raghuram said that in the short time he spent in his company's booth he spoke to representatives from enterprise giants including Nike, TD Ameritrade, Lockheed Martin, Fannie Mae, John Deere and even the FBI.

There was no interest of that sort a year earlier at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, British Columbia, he said.

Growth of public cloud is helping drive that interest in OpenStack, Raghuram said, by creating a heightened awareness of the value of private cloud.

Some of the launch partners have been eyeing OpenStack for a while as an opportunity to initiate private cloud practices, he told CRN.

"They are picking Platform9 and leading with Platform9 because they need a solution that works and is compatible with a wide range of hardware solutions they use today while competing with public cloud and not losing control of their data center business," Raghuram said.

Alvin Chu, senior director of solutions at FusionStorm, a solution provider based in San Francisco, told CRN the market opportunity for private and hybrid clouds, specifically those built on OpenStack, is expanding rapidly.

Companies looking to control unpredictable costs, or finding public cloud doesn't suit their needs for either security or compliance reasons, are searching for alternatives, he said.

FusionStorm believes Platform9 offers such an alternative to help its customers address next-generation computing needs and accelerate time to value, Chu told CRN.

"The biggest challenge around OpenStack has been the complexity of setting it up and managing it over time," Chu said. "Some customers have reluctantly shied away from it because they see it as cost-prohibitive and slow to deliver value to their organization."

But delivering OpenStack-as-a-Service removes much of that complexity, he told CRN.

That deployment model allows "partners to build clouds in a fraction of the time it takes with other flavors of OpenStack," Chu said.

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