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Cloud Field Day 2 Preview: Platform9

Cloud Field Day 2, part of the Tech Field Day family of events is happening in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, from 26-28 July and I’m super excited to be invited as a delegate.

We are hearing from a number of companies about how they cloud!

Platform9 is a regular Tech Field Day presenter and I am lucky to be able to heard from them directly when I attended Virtualisation Field Day 4 in 2015 when it was just starting

The company was founded in 2013 by some clever VMware people who wanted to create a company to provide managed cloud infrastructure with two important distinctions. They wanted their offerings to be SaaS managed and wanted it to use open source software.

It’s first product was a cloud managed OpenStack. OpenStack was (is?) hellishly complicated to set up and manage yourself so Platform9 stepped in and offered a cloud managed OpenStack which would run on-premises. Platform9 would take all the hassle away of deploying and upgrading OpenStack and you could spend your time using your OpenStack private cloud rather than managing it.

As the cloud landscape evolved and containers became the next big thing, Platform9 added a managed Kubernetes option. Kubernetes is also difficult to set up so Platform9 came to the rescue. Clouds don’t stand still and Platform9 now has an alpha version of its own Serverless offering called Fission (plenty to say about this).

Platform9 is a cloud infrastructure management company following the current cloud trajectory in what seems like an ideal evolving portfolio: Managed servers, then managed containers then managed Serverless.

The company has had a recent fund injection of $22m with a mix of existing a new investors to bring the total capital raised to date to £36.5m, a helpful war chest. It currently manages 200 enterprise clouds worldwide.

Hybrid Cloud

Platform9 is obviously betting big on selling its idea of hybrid cloud which is private cloud(s) managed from the public cloud. It says going with AWS means you rely on hardware and infrastructure owned by Amazon. Using Platform9 means you can rather rely on the servers, networking and storage underpinning the VM environment you already have. The pitch is enterprises are needing a very heterogenous environment to support workloads running in multiple clouds with varying levels of sensitivity and control. Future private and hybrid clouds are going to be far more flexible than they currently are with better dynamic resource allocation for better ROI. The company says it is investing in several future capabilities which will be announces later this year and 2018. Hopefully we’ll get some more teasers.

It’s pretty much agreed that multi-cloud is the future rather than a hybrid cloud which only connects private clouds to a public cloud. Enterprises are wanting to pick the best of each cloud and be able to manage them effectively.

Kube2Go

So, Platform9 has announced its latest offering called Kube2Go which is all about multi-clouds and running “Running Kubernetes Anywhere. Instantly. Free.” There are no servers to provision, you can just stand up a Kubernetes cluster managed by Platform9 on your favourite cloud platform, AWS is ready with support for GCP Soon and Azure soon. If Kubernetes is your choice of container orchestration engine on-prem but you want to run containers on AWS you may be very interested in having the same container management platform across on-prem and AWS rather than also having to work out what to do with Amazon’s Container Service.

There are two things I’m most interested in hearing about from Platform9.

Open Source

One is what seems a new message from Platform9 which is providing “Open Source as a Service.” This certainly broadens the company’s scope and I’m interested to hear what they have to say. OpenStack+Kubernetes+Fission are the current open source projects they can support but what else are they thinking about? I know enterprises are grappling with how to use, manage and support open source. They don’t have a problem using open source software but do want the assurance of some sort of support. Currently this normally sits with the Red Hats or Canonical’s of the world for the OS and multiple other smaller vendors but these are very vendor product focused. Could Platform9 help with support for a broader range of options that tie together separate tools, would it be all cloud managed or also for software that is managed internally. I can see many options for supported open source tools: security scanning, monitoring, performance profiling, logging etc. There are many open source tools that companies are taking advantage of yet would like to feel comforted by some support.

Serverless

The second is arguably the future of IT (I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic) and is Serverless.

As I’ve mentioned, Platform9 has released as Alpha a version of Fission which is a Serverless platform which runs on Kubernetes.

I am hugely interested in Serverless and firmly believe it is the way software will be written. I recently did a London VMUG presentation on Serverless to help VM infrastructure people understand what it is all about. In the same way that the creation of VMs allowed cloud to be created using VMs as a utility, containers as a utility is the destination that allows Serverless. If the focus is on the apps rather than infrastructure then Serverless is the pure instantiation of apps as microservice functions, infrastructure is all abstracted away. There is much work to do but Serverless is the quickest way to add business value.

I’d love to see more information about Fission. Fission has been written by Platform9 but there is the IBM and now RedHat backed OpenWhisk which also runs on Kubernetes. It seems OpenWhisk which is now under the Apache umbrella would compete against Fission although it isn’t cloud managed. OpenWhisk is also part of the Serverless Framework which is about writing cross platform services including AWS Lambda, Azure Cloud Functions, GCP and OpenWhisk I’d like to hear how Platform9 sees the competitive marketplace for Serverless even though its very very early days. Is it a scramble to build anything that isn’t Amazon? Why would you chose to invest in Fission rather than Lambda or OpenWhisk?

As event triggers are what makes actually Serverless so important rather than the fact that it happens to be containers underneath, what on-prem event triggers can Fission tap into? If it offers managed OpenStack and Kubernetes does this offer it any advantages tying the infrastructure more closely to the apps.

I’m hoping Platform9 can continue to inspire the Serverless movement. Please can we have some cool Fission demos to show us how innovative serverless can be.

Can’t wait to hear more from Platform9.

Gestalt IT is paying for travel, accommodation and things to eat to attend Cloud Field Day but isn’t paying a penny for me to write anything good or bad about anyone.

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