Briefing Note: Platform9 brings Amazon Class Automation to Traditional Data Centers

For many data centers the most appealing part of the public cloud is the automated provisioning. Users or application owners simply define the type and amount of compute and storage they need and the public cloud automatically provisions the exact resources. Platform9 promises to deliver a public-cloud type of provisioning onto in-house infrastructure for authorized users, while satisfying IT/Ops policies.

Not Another Virtualization Engine

It is important to understand that Platform9 is not yet another virtualization platform with hopes of competing with VMware, Hyper-V, KVM and Xen. Instead, it is a cloud management platform that provides resource pooling, automated placement of workloads and orchestration of those workloads. Most importantly, it provides a self service portal that authorized application owners can access to create their workloads without IT interaction.

Bring the Cloud to where it makes sense

One of the trepidations that data centers have with the public cloud is, well, it’s public. The reality is that they already have an in-house infrastructure, duplicating in the cloud is not really going to save them as much money as it would a start up company that needs to build everything from scratch. Second, there is the obvious lack of control, despite all the work cloud providers have done to provide consistent performance, it’s still that provider’s responsibility. Many organizations would rather have the responsibility of performance and remediation be theirs. There are also the concerns around data locality as data sovereignty laws become more stringent.

Bringing Public Cloud Automation to the Data Center

Platform9 brings several key capabilities to the data center so organizations can easily build their own private cloud. First, it works across virtualization hypervisors. While VMware may be the most complete hypervisor eco-system available, for many workloads KVM and Hyper-V will be good enough. They are also developing support for container technology like Docker.

To pull off this cross virtualization support, Platform9 is delivered as a service on an OpenStack foundation. OpenStack is a service-oriented design inspired by Amazon AWS and it already supports VMware, KVM, Xen and Docker. The challenge with OpenStack is that it is not a finished product, it is more of a framework, making it difficult to implement successfully without substantial time and skills. While there are hosted private cloud models for OpenStack they re-introduce many of the challenges that causes data centers to hesitate when considering the public cloud.

OpenStack as a Service

The Platform9 solution leverages the organization’s existing servers and those servers host the organization’s data. To add a node to the infrastructure requires adding either a virtual appliance under VMware or a package for KVM. From there, Platform9 hosts the OpenStack controller as a service, the controller is dedicated per customer account, and nothing is shared.

Essentially the data center is providing the compute, storage and network, Platform9 is providing the management framework. The result is that users are provided with a self service portal to compute and storage resources, while IT still has command and control over those resources, policies and user management. All of this is delivered through a clean, crisp user interface that can also be driven via OpenStack APIs.

StorageSwiss Take

Part of the challenge with private cloud adoption is understanding the difference between a true private cloud and a highly virtualized environment. OpenStack provides the ability for the data center to span geographies and to effectively provision resources. Platform9 delivers those capabilities without the complexities of OpenStack installation, upgrade monitoring, database setup, and backup of the configuration.

Ultimately, users care about applications and workflows, not which hypervisor is being run. Platform9 allows data centers to decouple the cloud from the virtualization platform creating a truly flexible and agile data center.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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