Cisco Buys Piston Cloud Computing for Intercloud Initiative

The startup brings OpenStack expertise through its CloudOS offering and complements what Cisco inherited when it bought Metacloud last year.

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Cisco Systems is bolstering its Intercloud effort with the acquisition of Piston Cloud Computing, a startup known for its own distribution of the OpenStack cloud software stack.

The networking giant made the announcement June 3. No financial details were released.

Cisco continues to build out its Intercloud initiative both internally and through outside acquisitions. The vendor in September 2014 bought Metacloud, a 3-year-old company whose technology enabled businesses to run private clouds based on OpenStack.

Piston Cloud Computing will help Cisco expand the capabilities and delivery of its Intercloud services, according to Hilton Romanski, senior vice president and head of business development for Cisco.

"Paired with our recent acquisition of Metacloud, Piston's distributed systems engineering and OpenStack talent will further enhance our capabilities around cloud automation, availability, and scale," Romanski wrote in a post on the company blog. "The acquisition of Piston will complement our Intercloud strategy by bringing additional operational experience on the underlying infrastructure that powers Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud. Additionally, Piston's deep knowledge of distributed systems and automated deployment will help further enhance our delivery capabilities for customers and partners."

Cisco introduced the idea of the Intercloud early last year as a way of addressing the growth of hybrid clouds. Almost three dozen other companies have joined Cisco's efforts to create a globally connected network of private, public and hybrid clouds that leverages the vendor's solutions. The Intercloud will include such technologies as Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)—essentially the company's answer to the software-defined networking (SDN) movement—which includes hardware and software resources working together to ensure the right resources for workloads. It also includes the Intercloud Fabric for moving applications from one cloud to another, and uses OpenStack as a foundational element.

Cisco is investing more than $2 billion on the Intercloud effort.

"Our enterprise-class portfolio of technology and cloud services gives customers the choice to build their own private clouds or consume cloud services from a trusted Intercloud Provider," Romanski wrote. "The Intercloud provides choice of services, all with compliance and control. In a nutshell: we're delivering cloud the way our customers need it."

Piston, which launched in 2011, brings more OpenStack capabilities to the picture through its CloudOS, which company officials said automate bare-metal orchestration and cluster management. Essentially, organizations can treat clusters of commodity servers in the data center as a single resource that can be shared efficiently by such services as OpenStack, Hadoop, Spark, Docker Swarm and Mesos. The result is services that can be deployed in minutes and a reduction in operational and management costs by as much as 85 percent, they said.

In a post on the Piston blog, CEO Jim Morrisroe and Christopher MacGown, co-founder and CTO, wrote that their technology is a good fit for what Cisco is doing with Intercloud.

"The Intercloud is an open solution that brings together organizations' private clouds and major public clouds, along with Cisco and partner clouds, enabling the movement of workloads across heterogeneous cloud environments," MacGown and Morrisroe wrote. "Piston's technology and our expertise in accelerating the provisioning, deployment and automated management of large-scale distributed systems will complement Cisco's ambitious Intercloud strategy."

Piston employees will become part of Cisco's Cloud Services unit, which is run by Faiyaz Shahpurwla, senior vice president of the company's Cloud Infrastructure and Managed Services group.

Editor's note: This story was changed to correct the titles of Jim Morrisroe and Christopher MacGown.