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Two OpenStack-Focused Companies Get Bought

Blue Box and Piston are swallowed up by Cisco and IBM.

The momentum around the OpenStack cloud computing platform picked up even more speed today, as announcements came down that two companies providing various services around the platform are being acquired by much larger companies.

IBM Corp. announced that it's bought Blue Box, a managed cloud service built on OpenStack, while Cisco Systems Inc. stated its intent to acquire Piston Computing Cloud. Although the Cisco purchase isn't yet official, both companies are acting as if there's no doubt it will happen. Piston is responsible for CloudOS, which manages server resources on the OpenStack framework.

Cloud Spinning
All the companies involved spun the acquisitions as a step forward in the rapidly growing and evolving world of cloud computing. "Through Blue Box, IBM will help businesses rapidly integrate their cloud-based applications and on-premises systems into OpenStack-based managed cloud," IBM said in its press release. "This acquisition will enable IBM to deliver a public cloud-like experience within the client’s own datacenter, relieving organizations of the burden of traditional private cloud deployments," the release stated.

Cisco trumpeted the Piston purchase as another piece in its larger puzzle to build what it calls the "Intercloud," a global network of connected clouds. Its press release also said that bringing in the engineering talent was a key factor:

"The acquisition of Piston will complement our Intercloud strategy by bringing additional operational experience on the underlying infrastructure that powers Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud. Additionally, Piston's deep knowledge of distributed systems and automated deployment will help further enhance our delivery capabilities for customers and partners."

OpenStack is an open source platform that's generally used for private clouds, although there are public cloud implementations. It's been expanding for years, and releases a new version about every six months that adds functionality.

Economies of Scale
The latest version, 'Kilo,' was released in May, and focused on scalability issues. It introduced a bare-metal hypervisor API for increased speed, and an identity service to federate identity across multiple heterogeneous clouds.

Although it's powerful, OpenStack is extremely complex, making it difficult for organizations to implement, as very few have expertise in it. That's surely at least one contributing factor in the IBM and Cisco purchases -- it's sometimes easier to buy that expertise rather than build it from the ground up.

In fact, OpenStack's growing complexity has had its downsides. Recently, cloud vendor Nebula, which was built around OpenStack, closed its doors, citing the immaturity of the market surrounding the platform.

Virtualization Review columnist and industry analyst Dan Kusnetzky thinks Cisco is making a smart buy: "Cisco, by acquiring Piston, would project itself into the thick of things in the growing OpenStack market. Being part of Cisco would mean that Piston would have stronger funding for its development, marketing and sales efforts."

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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