Metacloud remotely manages OpenStack-based enterprise private clouds. Cisco liked what Metacloud was doing and acquired the company in September. A few months after the acquisition, there’s a clearer picture of Metacloud's role in Cisco’s wider cloud ambitions.
Post acquisition, Metacloud said it's still very much doing business as usual, but over the last year the enterprise market has opened up wide for it and OpenStack in general. Enterprise private clouds are not only being launched, they're being used effectively.
Gartner's Tom Bittman recently wrote a blog post on why private clouds fail. Metacloud's vice president of strategy Scott Sanchez said companies have finally fixed a major mistake: not involving the right people.
Companies are finally starting to involve development teams very heavily in deciding what their private clouds will look like. “Private clouds fail when companies don’t involve the dev teams,” he said. When the dev team drives private cloud, this is when it is valuable, since the dev team is who is using the cloud.
Metacloud's Fit with Cisco
Still early in the integration process, Metacloud’s acquisition gave it immediate credibility with Cisco’s customers. “Not surprisingly, there was a lot of pent-up demand from Cisco’s global customer base,” said Sanchez.
The company no longer has to raise funding and has the resources it needs to grow. The big question is how Metacloud will ultimately fit into Cisco. So far it looks like the focus will be on enabling partners.
While Metacloud's bread and butter is remote management of on-prem private clouds, the company did release a hosted version shortly before acquisition. The hosted version was one potential model Cisco could adopt, meaning Cisco potentially offering Metacloud directly to its customers from its data centers.
That is not Cisco’s ambition however. “Cisco has a very large partner ecosystem; Metacloud had one hosting partner,” said Sanchez. “We’re looking to a model where this will be available to partners.”
The company hasn't changed its product, and it's still hardware agnostic, but it's unclear whether the plan is to stay the course. "Our products will be more tightly integrated with Cisco UCS, and we're still evaluating other potential integrations," said Sanchez. "There's no current plans to not support other things.”
Updates are still released every six weeks or so. The next releases are focused on visibility for admins. Sanchez said that, while Metacloud completely runs the cloud for customers, there’s still a desire to log into a box and touch it.
As Metacloud operates the private cloud fully, logging into individual boxes isn't something customers do in the model. However, giving these admins deeper visibility is in demand. The company will roll out a dashboard with a deeper view and insight into what’s going on, such as usage stats.
OpenStack in the Enterprise
The OpenStack landscape has changed drastically in just the last year, said Sanchez. There’s been a lot of consolidation — Metacloud and Cisco is only one example — which is a good thing.
“There were a lot of early investments made into OpenStack companies,” he said. “When you look at the landscape today, there’s a number of commercially supported solutions. Even a year ago, things were different. It felt like community editions and early testing. We’re in a different place than 12 months ago. There’s more trust in the model and the vendors behind these solutions.”
Despite a flux of commercially supported OpenStack flavors – Cisco recently partnered with Red Hat on such an offering – Metacloud believes it’s still uniquely positioned. “More of [these offerings] say they’re managed, but that comes from a much different place than fully operated,” said Sanchez.
“Metacloud didn’t build this as packaged software, it was built to be operated at scale. The founders are not software guys, they’re ops guys.”
Co-founder and CEO Sean Lynch was previously on Ticketmaster’s infrastructure engineering team, ultimately running global operations for a company with $9 billion in annual revenue. Co-founder and president Steve Curry was a founding member of the Yahoo! Storage operations team.
The company has been deeply involved with OpenStack the open source project and arguably had one of the first viable enterprise private cloud offerings in the market. Metacloud has built a repeatable private OpenStack cloud ready for the enterprise. “We’re not building snowflakes for customers. We push the same code at the same time to all customers. We treat [them] as one big cloud.”