Blue Box Cloud Brings OpenStack On-Premises

The company's new offering provides packaged engineered hardware to enable an organization to deploy and manage an OpenStack cloud, taking on VCE's vBlock.


VANCOUVER, British Columbia—Cloud services vendor Blue Box Cloud is expanding its model to deliver an on-premises OpenStack software and hardware platform. To date, Blue Box has only offered a hosted edition that enables organizations to deploy their own private OpenStack clouds.

The move toward hardware comes at an interesting inflection point for OpenStack after the failure of OpenStack vendor Nebula, which also focused on on-premises hardware deployments.

"The on-premises installation changes the location of where the hardware is installed," Jesse Proudman, founder and CTO of Blue Box Cloud, told eWEEK at the OpenStack Summit here. "The product we have today is all installed in data centers we control, while the on-premises version is hosted wherever the customer wants it."

The Blue Box OpenStack on-premises offering is configured as an engineered platform, with a fully integrated rack of networking, compute, storage and software components. Proudman said the approach is similar to how VCE has vBlock converged virtualization systems.

"You can think of our solution as vBlock for OpenStack," Proudman said.

Blue Box is working with value-added Reseller (VAR) partner Alliance Technology Group to build and provision the preconfigured OpenStack rack. In terms of the actual hardware, the Dell R630 delivers the compute elements, while the Dell FX series will be used for the OpenStack control plane. Storage components come from Nimble, and the networking components come from Juniper Networks.

Typically, a converged system will have a regular top-of-rack networking switch, but that's not the approach that Blue Box is taking. Proudman noted that the Juniper SRX series is being used, providing firewall and virtual private network (VPN) capabilities, while the QFX5100 provides the basic switching fabric. Blue Box is including an MX-3D router as well.

"Since this is a fully managed product, our intent with having a router is for the converged system to be able to sit as an independent entity in a customer deployment, then use BGP [Border Gateway Protocol] to speak to the rest of the customer's network," he said.

By having a separate router for the Blue Box OpenStack on-premises platform, it will be easy to integrate the platform into a customer environment, according to Proudman. From a security perspective, the Blue Box approach allows for a simple segregation point.

"By using BGP, customers can have a firewall deployment based on how they want to interconnect with the rest of their network," he said.

Proudman emphasized that the Blue Box OpenStack on-premises edition will ship as a fully integrated rack to a customer site. All a customer needs to do is plug the rack into a power source and connect it to the network. Once powered up, the rack will contact the Blue Box management node to register the system and get any updates that may have become available in the time since the rack was shipped and the time it is installed at a customer location. Blue Box handles remote management of the OpenStack hardware and software platform, while customers manage their own workloads that run on top of the platform.

By taking a hardware approach, Blue Box is now differentiating itself from many in the OpenStack ecosystem.

"The challenge is that many vendors have approached OpenStack as simply a software problem, and we fundamentally believe that is a flawed approach," Proudman said. "The complexity of OpenStack and distributed systems is much more difficult to manage than a traditional software implementation."

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.