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Piston Announces Enterprise Cloud OS

Piston Cloud Computing is throwing its hat into the OpenStack-based open source cloud arena with the release of pentOS (Piston Enterprise OSTM), "an easy, secure and open cloud operating system for managing enterprise private cloud environments." The new company and its initial offering are the inspirations of Josh (Joshua) McKenty, the chief architect of NASA’s Nebula Cloud Computing Platform, which formed the cornerstone of the OpenStack project. McKenty sits on the OpenStack Project Policy Board. The other co-founder, and Piston CTO, is Christopher MacGown, who was technical lead at Slicehost, acquired by Rackspace in 2008.

McKenty says OpenStack was very successful but that the focus was on public clouds. A lot of enterprises were interested in private clouds, he adds, so the company and the OS was created. Today's private clouds require complex configuration and time-intensive installation, and maintenance and scaling are error-prone, he says. Enterprises were also concerned about vendor lock-in, he adds.

OpenStack has more than 1,450 contributors and 110 participating companies, including Rackspace, NASA, Citrix, Intel, Cisco, Arista Networks, Microsoft and Dell. "We are focused on being interoperable with any other OpenStack," says McKenty. Optimized for secure and easy operation of enterprise private clouds, pentOS is built around two major components: the Null-Tier architecture, which offers storage, compute and networking on every node, and CloudKey two-factor-capable physical authentication, says McKenty. The OS can be installed in less than 5 minutes, is massively scalable and has automated complexity, he says.

A preview version of pentOS will be introduced as a limited availability, free trial for early access customers and developers on Oct. 3. General availability will begin Nov. 29.

Analyst Jeff Kaplan, managing director, THINKstrategies, says Piston Cloud is intriguing because it is the first commercial offering of the OpenStack standard. "It will be interesting to see if Piston Cloud can generate the same broad-based following and tremendous financial success in the cloud OS market that RedHat has achieved in the open source world.

It is joining a crowded field with a host of proprietary and non-proprietary cloud standards and offerings. In August, the Open Cloud Initiative published the Open Cloud Principles document. In June, the Open Data Center Alliance released a set of proposed standards for cloud providers, and the Cloud Standards Customer Council announced a project to create a Practical Guide to Cloud Computing.

April saw the latest developments with OpenStack Compute for developing a cloud-based server environment and OpenStack Object Storage for cloud-based storage, while the IEEE jumped in with its Cloud Computing Initiative and the approval of two new cloud standards development projects. And in January, the TM Forum, an association of vendors such as HP and IBM and large service providers, delivered the industry's first set of Enterprise-Grade External Compute Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Requirements.