A group of Rackspace staffers announced today that they are leaving the company and creating a startup, called ScaleFT, to tackle the challenge of cloud management and access.
Rackspace—which has been the home base for many innovative cloud technologies, including OpenStack—is backing the effort by participating in a $800,000 seed financing round for ScaleFT.
At the helm of ScaleFT is co-founder and CEO Jason Luce. Until today, Luce had been vice president of finance at Rackspace, where he has worked for the last seven years.
"What we're building is cloud management infrastructure software," Luce told eWEEK. "Amazon Web Services has its own platform and that's great, but it's not great if you don't want to run on Amazon."
If an organization wants to be able to run across multiple environments, there is a need for a new set of management tools, Luce said. Rackspace is mostly about enabling service-level agreements, and the company needs a new generation of cloud management infrastructure software, he added.
The ScaleFT platform will have multiple components, and the first piece is access and authentication.
"Many companies have multiple people logging into servers, and there is a need to manage that and keep the whole process secure," Luce said.
ScaleFT's platform will also have an offering called Context that provides insight into cloud operations. Cloud operators want to know the activity that is taking place when developers are on servers, Luce said.
Why spin a separate company out of Rackspace, rather than try to build it internally?
After several meetings were held at Rackspace, the general consensus was that it would be faster to build the ScaleFT technology outside Rackspace, Luce said.
"It's just big company stuff when you're trying to develop software and there are 20 people in a room; the process takes too long and the product is often compromised," Luce said.
The plan with ScaleFT is to build out the cloud management infrastructure software platform rapidly with a product available to test and deploy by this summer, Luce said.
While Rackspace has invested in the open-source OpenStack cloud platform, ScaleFT will not have a direct relationship with OpenStack.
"One of the key things about the ScaleFT management platform is the fact that it is cloud-native and cross-platform," Luce said. "Companies run on AWS, VMware, Google and OpenStack, and they want one set of tools."
One of the key developers who will be joining ScaleFT is Paul Querna, who was director of corporate strategy and development at Rackspace and previously was the chief architect of cloud cloud monitoring vendor Cloudkick, which Rackspace acquired in 2010. Querna is also well-known in the open-source community and has been a member of the Apache Software Foundation since 2003.
It's not yet clear what elements of the ScaleFT platform might become open-source over time.
"We have open source in our blood, and right now we're trying to figure everything out," Luce said.
From a go-to-market perspective, the initial plan is to have an inside sales team and over time expand. ScaleFT's big goal is to land a paying customer by this summer, Luce said.
ScaleFT was not started on a whim, and the company already has some supporters at big companies, Luce said. "It's not like we're just building this platform, hoping people will want it; we're building for people that we know will use it."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.