Cloudistics Looks To Power MSP Infrastructure With Innovative Partner Relationships

Cloudistics, a startup looking to address the heating market for more affordable and manageable on-premises cloud solutions, introduced two unique programs this week to help forge partnerships with managed services providers.

The company, founded in 2013 in Reston, Va., only came out of stealth at the end of last year with a software-defined data center platform that looks to simplify cloud deployment and operations and help MSPs who want to buck the public cloud.

The programs offer innovative pay structures designed to develop business relationships with services provider partners, Steve Conner, Cloudistics' vice president of worldwide sales, told CRN.

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The programs treat partner MSPs "kind of like a franchise," Conner said, with Cloudistics giving them a solution that won't immediately tax financial resources, but will instead generate revenue upon the success of those users.

Cloudistics' serial entrepreneur founders were behind Precise Software, acquired by Veritas in 2003, and later AppAssure, which sold to Dell in 2012.

AppAssure CTO and founder Srinidhi Varadarajan went on to run Dell's data protection business. That's where the seeds for the next venture were planted, Conner said.

While further developing the AppAssure data backup product for Dell, Varadarajan was irked by massive Amazon Web Services bills—hundreds of thousands of dollars a month—that were killing the bottom line.

He figured, as a Ph.D. in computer science, it would be easy to stand up OpenStack on-premises to ease those costs – probably wouldn't take longer than a weekend. Three weeks later Varadarajan threw in the towel, with a newfound appreciation for the need for a simpler infrastructure solution.

Cloudistics platform, released last October, combines the standard networking, storage and compute components in an entirely software-defined environment. Users can deploy and consume resources through an interface, without having to confront the underlying infrastructure directly.

To expand its services provider ecosystem, Cloudistics introduced the two unique programs, and is working on a third, Conner said.

The first program variant is called "Ready Cloud" for simple Infrastructure-as-a-Service deployment. MSPs can buy their own hardware, and get Cloudistics software for free. Billing only starts when the deployment goes live with paying customers, and can be handled in a licensing or subscription model.

"Starter Cloud," the second option, offers a highly discounted platform—the initial configuration at almost cost to the vendor. What Cloudistics asks in return is that as the service grows, customers buy upgrades and additional capacity at a standard discount.

A third option in the works will deliver a full utility model, where MSPs won't have to invest at all in hardware. That program will eventually charge for the hardware and software on a monthly recurring basis, with a set base capacity fee and consumption charging for bursting beyond it.

Cloudistics technology allows MSPs to offer multi-tenant clouds that achieve peak utilization of resources. True multi-tenancy isn't possible with most hyper-converged systems because they have shared storage platforms, Conner said.

Cloudistics breaks storage into isolated blocks dedicated to virtual machines.

The platform leverages Pica8 technology at the network virtualization layer and Red Hat's KVM hypervisor, although some components of both kernels were ripped out and replaced with proprietary technology. Red Hat storage rounds out the solution, he said.

That software bundle currently runs on Dell's iDRAF configuration, although code sets are being developed to support Lenovo and possibly Supermicro standards in the future.

The platform can be purchased as an appliance or software with a reference architecture.

Conner said the company is seeing interest from the federal government, financial institutions, gaming systems, even some professional sports teams.

Joshua Opper, managing partner at Utility Datacenter, said the managed cloud hosting company based in Boston, MA, turned to Cloudistics for a simple and predictable solution that mirrored the needs of its customers.

"I can’t just run out and waste capital on a box of resources that I don’t need. When I need memory I just want to buy memory," Opper told CRN.

"I can get hardware anywhere but finding a product that can be entirely managed by a lower-cost resource that has a built-in interface for my customers is a godsend," he said.

The Cloudistics partner programs allow MSPs to pay for the resources they need while maintaining the ability to quickly expand capacity with customer demand, avoiding the large hardware refreshes that are the bane of every MSP, he told CRN.

"When one of your biggest challenges is salaries and skillsets, finding a simple product that encapsulates your entire stack is something every MSP should be looking for," Opper said. "Simplicity and flexibility are key to managing operations and growth and these guys know how to do just that.’