Open source is appealing but it's a lot of work.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

July 5, 2017

4 Min Read
Open Source Is Like a Puppy, Says Platform9 CEO

Implementing open source is like adopting a puppy, says Sirish Raghuram, CEO of Platform9, which provides cloud management services over the cloud.

"It's really cute and appealing, but when you take it home you realize how much work it is," Raghuram says, fresh off the company's $22 million C funding round, announced last week. (See Startup Platform9 Scores $22M Funding for Cloud Management.)

Few people have the skills to run open source in production at scale, providing high levels of service, Raghuram says.

Vendors have traditionally stepped in to fill that skills and personnel gap, but the traditional vendor business model is broken, Raghuram says. In the traditional model, the vendor refines raw open source software into distributions ready to run in the enterprise, which the vendors support.

Figure 1: Appealing, but a lot of work. Appealing, but a lot of work.

Problems with that business model: One distribution can't be a lot better than the other. That's the nature of open source -- the distributions have to retain compatibility, Raghuram says.

Also, IT doesn't have a lot of experience with highly distributed systems, he says.

The model doesn't work. "The number of failed OpenStack projects is evidence of that," Raghuram says. (See VMware Damns OpenStack With Faint Praise and Rackspace: OpenStack's Death Is #FakeNews,

Platform9 believes it has the answer: Platform9 allows users to deploy OpenStack, Kubernetes, and Fission serverless software on private clouds, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform, with Microsoft Azure support coming in September, Raghuram says. Platform9 manages those services for customers remotely -- managing the cloud over the cloud. Or, as Platform9 puts it, "open source as a service."

Platform9 claims that in the past year it has grown its customer base by 360% and revenue by 300% (impressive numbers, but not so remarkable in a startup that's coming from a small base to start); won more than 60 enterprise customers including Cadence Design, Autodesk, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Sony Playstation; and partnered with NetApp, Nutanix, Juniper, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and public cloud providers.

Raghuram's vision is similar to Mirantis's current strategy. Mirantis recently shifted from providing OpenStack distribution and services to providing professional services and software, including OpenStack and Kubernetes, for enterprises moving to the cloud. (See Mirantis Pivots as OpenStack Loses 'Wow Factor'.)

Raghuram also shared his view on the future of the cloud -- and Platform9's future direction. He calls it "cloud arbitrage."

As enterprises look to manage cloud costs, they will want to look for ways to move workloads from one cloud to another to find the best deals, Raghuram says.

Platform9 is developing a cloud arbitrage service, initially targeting Amazon's Spot Instances and Google Cloud Preemptible Instances, Raghuram says. Using those services, the cloud provider offers services at steep discount, with the catch that the instances will disappear if the service sees a surge in in demand.

Platform9's cloud arbitrage service will allow cloud administrators to set policies for deploying workloads on these kinds of temporary services, and then the process will be automated, Raghuram says.

Raghuram says he expects arbitrage to become a trend in 2018.

Raghuram's cloud arbitrage is complementary to the cloud portability vision touted by Microsoft and Google representatives recently. They encourage enterprises to standardize commodity cloud functions using the open source Cloud Foundry APIs, and then use the specialized services offered by each cloud for competitive advantage. (See Google & Microsoft Tout Multi-Cloud, but Where's Amazon?.)

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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