There’s a lot of talk across the industry about the promise of the software defined data center. ProfitBricks is one provider that believes it is on the forefront of this movement, but also believes in the power of brawny cores and a fast network to ensure its software delivers on that promise.
ProfitBricks seeks to differentiates itself from what it calls first generation IaaS. It is a cloud provider that touts the ability to provide both vertical and horizontal scale, flexibility in the network, and a data center design tool with an interface that makes building a virtual data center a fairly easy and straightforward endeavor. ProfitBricks calls itself the "second generation of cloud infrastructure," and it has been growing at a quick clip since launching earlier this year.
ProfitBricks was founded in 2010 by Achim Weiss and Andreas Gauger, previous cofounders of 1&1 Internet, with funding from the founders and United Internet. It launched in the U.S. last September.
“We spent around 2 years in development of making it work correctly at high speed,” said ProfitBricks USA CEO Bob Rizika. “There’s 14 guys just doing kernel modifications.”
The end product is a virtual data center (VDC) offering that provides dedicated cores, and bigger, customizable instances. It offers free software defined networks, firewalls, double redundant storage and 24 hours a day, seven days a week of system administrator engineer-level personal support.
Scaling up Staff, Customers
ProfitBricks had about 1,000 customers as of late November. The company started with 30-40 engineers; now that number is up to 110 in Germany, and almost 30 in the US. ProfitBricks has beefed up the whole marketing organization, and is in the process of hiring an evangelist. It announced about a month ago that MIT, Stanford and CalTech are using their infrastructure, and it is looking at areas when they can partner.
ProfitBricks has targeted customers that need high performance, and has been attracting a combination of ISPs, software vendors, gaming startups, and big data customers. It has also done well with customers running older applications, as horizontal scale does not work with older applications."A lot of applications have unique network requirements and custom sized (CPU/RAM) hardware requirements; the cloud seems like a scary place to these folks," said Rizika. "We provide the flexibility they need."
What exactly differentiates ProfitBricks from other cloud providers? Rizika compares what they do to Amazon Web Services.
“AWS has a lack of customized instances, with AWS you have to buy set server instances," he said. "Forced horizontal scale and lack of security made a lot of guys sit on the sidelines.” The company touts its network flexibility, with user-defined network configurations, as a key differentiator.
“This is second-gen infrastructure, for the data center crowd," said Rizika. "The goal is delivering the true data center. ProfitBricks allows the design of servers and clusters exactly the way the customer wants. You can have different size servers in different areas. In the end of the day you apply it all at a patch panel."
Software Tools Gaining Notice
Another key part of ProfitBricks' offering is the Data Center Designer, its software management tool, which has won some fans among early customers. “The Data Center Designer allows our team to focus on our product and not on learning and implementing a string of acronyms and complex setup configurations,” said Profitbricks customer and USpin Founder Ethan Bagley.
The company says that its usage of Infiniband truly allows it to separate itself from the cloud pack, and create true vertical scaling. You can scale up to 48 cores (which the company disclosed is about to increase).
“If you look at the top 15 providers, we are the first or second least expensive,” said Rizika. “We’re looking to democratize the whole industry. "
When asked if he's worried about the commoditization of cloud computing, and whether price wars would negatively affect ProfitBricks, Rizika was clear that, all though they were competitive in terms of price, they compete “solely on technology features and value, not price."
"This is just a new level of pricing," said Rizika.”I don’t want people to think there’s hidden stuff. It doesn’t matter if a user uses for a day month, year."