Platform 9 Emerges From Stealth Mode to Manage Cloud

The OpenStack cloud-based platform aims to make it easier for enterprises to cloud-enable virtualization workloads.

Platform 9

Startup cloud vendor Platform9 emerged from stealth mode today with $4.5 million in Series A funding and a plan that company officials believe will reshape the private cloud marketplace.

Platform9's technology is based on the open-source OpenStack cloud platform and provides a service-based approach that enables enterprises to create their own private cloud deployments. Sirish Raghuram, co-founder and CEO of Platform9, left VMware to start his new company, in a bid to fill a gap that he saw in the marketplace.

Raghuram said that in his estimation there aren't the proper tools in the marketplace that can easily enable an organization to manage and deploy a cloud as a service. VMware has multiple tools, including vCenter, for server management as well as the vCloud Hybrid Service, though Raghuram stressed that what Platform9 is trying to do is somewhat different.

"Our service takes existing workloads and converts them seamlessly to private cloud deployments," Raghuram explained to eWEEK. "We're based on OpenStack, and we are virtualizion-hypervisor-neutral."

Platform9's service is now in beta with the open-source Kernel-based Virtual-Machine (KVM) hypervisor, and the company plans to support VMware's vSphere and the open-source Docker container virtualization technologies in the future.

The reason the company is named Platform9 is a nod to the fictional Harry Potter universe. In the Harry Potter books, Platform 9 and 3/4 is the train platform from which the train departs to the Hogwarts school. In the books, the platform is not accessible to normal humans (muggles) and is only the domain of those with magical abilities.

"The most obvious thing that people struggle with in the private cloud is operational complexity," Raghuram said. "We thought that the obvious solution to the problem is to run the management layer as a service and offload the complexity."

In the Platform9 model, the service is able to detect an enterprise's server workloads and handles cloud configuration and monitoring. Platform9 itself is a cloud service that is build on top of the OpenStack cloud platform.

Platform9 is leveraging the Nova compute, Keystone identity and Glance image components of OpenStack, Raghuram said. Platform9 can be considered to be powered by OpenStack, though it's not a full OpenStack distribution in the traditional sense, he said.

Multiple vendors including Red Hat, Hewlett-Packard, SUSE and Canonical have full-fledged OpenStack software distributions in the market that can be obtained by enterprises. Raghuram noted that Platform9 is not something that an enterprise downloads to run on-premises but rather is a service delivery platform to enable a private cloud.

While OpenStack is open-source, Raghuram said that he considers Platform9 a proprietary fork. That said, he emphasized that the plan is to contribute back to the open-source OpenStack community, especially in terms of some of the workload discovery capabilities that his firm has built.

Ironically, while Platform9 is powered by OpenStack, the company leverages Amazon Web Services (AWS), in addition to its own data center, to deliver the service.

"Honestly the availability you get with Amazon is pretty good especially in comparison with what you get from a datacenter that a startup would have," Raghuram said.

From a security perspective, Platform9 has taken multiple measures to reduce risk and protect its users. Raghuram explained that every customer gets his or her own unique instance of Platform9, which is not shared with other users. Additionally, though Platform9 is managing private cloud workloads, Raghuram said that Platform9 never actually sees any customer data.

A beta version of Platform9 is out and general availability is set for the end of the year. The company has not yet publicly announced pricing.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

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