Want to run your own Amazon 'region'? Stratoscale shows you how

Q&A: The CEO of Stratoscale makes the case for his company’s datacenter OS replacing VMware and OpenStack, thus transforming your servers into an AWS region

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We had another customer building out a very large data analytics environment in pharma. We have a customer that is doing payment processing applications and again, because of data sovereignty challenges, it’s behind the firewall in China. It’s one of the largest online banks there. We have another customer that’s a university that is hosting online courses. I was very surprised to see a large variety of use cases. The thing that was surprising to us, we thought it was going to be only a small amount of application verticals, but it turns out that since Amazon has more than a million customers, to a large extent we’re facing the same range and variety of customers as well.

IDGE: What should somebody expect? If I deployed this in a large datacenter, what do I expect in terms of cost savings, time savings, redeploying resources?

Maislos: It would probably be in the order of magnitude of one-third the cost of a public cloud and, from what we’ve seen, one-sixth the cost of an equivalent legacy, VMware-based infrastructure.

IDGE: I want to clarify. When you say one-third the cost, do you mean one-third of the annual cost to operate that datacenter?

Maislos: Yes. Because the idea is that many applications have different behavior profiles, and when you have enough applications running in your environment sometimes they’re idle, sometimes they’re running and so on. In a public cloud environment whether an application is running or it’s idle, you’re always paying for it.

Now the way we’ve built the product and the way we’re pricing it, if you have applications that are not consuming any resources, then you’re not paying for that because our subscription model is based on the capacity, not based on the usage. It allows you to take advantage of the capacity and do something else with it while those applications are idle without paying extra. That gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility, and it translates into huge net savings because typically applications are not running in a high utilization. They’re running at a very low utilization level.

IDGE: How do you price the software? What is that based on?

Maislos: It’s a subscription based on the number of servers that we power. We don’t care about the number of cores or sockets or the number of bits that you have attached or how much memory. It is priced to allow you a very economical mode of operation. If you have very large machines, obviously its cost savings are even larger.

We’re not trying to focus on the cost. Instead we are trying to focus on giving you the power and flexibility and achieving parity with what’s available in the public cloud. Our own method is focusing on that, on adding more and more services and over the coming year in 2017, we’re going to add a lot of capabilities at that front.

IDGE: Is Amazon aware of this, and do they encourage customers to look into this?

Maislos: I personally think we’re too small for somebody to be jealous, but I think we’re providing them great benefits because we’re easing the transition into cloud. Obviously, when people have transformed their environment into an Amazon-like environment, then it’s easier for them to deploy in the public cloud. Again, we’re all about giving them that freedom.

IDGE: When you meet with customers what are some of the kinds of concerns they bring up?

Maislos: Companies have not yet retooled to the cloud; they are still siloed in a traditional manner. We have people taking care of storage, people taking care of network, people taking care of virtualization. They’re facing shadow IT where the users, the business users in the organization and the application owners go directly to the public cloud, circumventing IT.

That happens because many times IT continues to be a roadblock. Instead of enhancing agility in the organization and giving value, there continues to be a roadblock to the build, a problem that slows things down. Most organizations are aware of it and they’re asking: How can we retool so that we’re actually part of the solution, to make IT relevant again? IT can become relevant when it’s offering the right building blocks that the application developer can use. That conversation is fascinating, opening their eyes to that world and making them believe that they are capable of offering those solutions without going bankrupt and without hiring talent that is very smart and very difficult [to find].

There’s a lot of open source completely geared toward developers, which means that it’s not useful from an operations perspective. You need a bunch of rocket scientists to figure things out, and most teams don’t have rocket scientists that are lying around.

IDGE: Are you referring to OpenStack there?

Maislos: Absolutely. That’s a nightmare, even beyond that. Now you have the new kid on the block, Kubernetes containers, it’s the silver bullet. They’re going to solve our problems. I don’t think they’re going to solve our problems. I think it’s another tool in the tool shed, and suddenly that tool shed can become even more complex.

When the enemy is complexity, we’re trying to help them sort that out. We’re trying to give them a solution that works out of the box, that’s easy to deploy. It’s giving them all these tools that they can very easily use because we’ve transformed them into services and we’ve made those services compatible with the leading public clouds. Whatever they’re doing inside, they can use outside and what they’re doing outside they can bring back in.

IDGE: Is there an easy way for someone to trial this? How would you go about testing it?

Maislos: We set up an online lab. It’s very easy to log in and test the device, the platform. We also have a program where you can download the software and install it in your environment and we have teams that can help you do that as well. It’s a relatively simple thing to do.

IDGE: Do you have a name for this? You’re telling people to move to what kind of computing?

Maislos: I think AWS is the 500-pound gorilla in this space, and we’re calling it our private AWS region.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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