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Thursday, 29 April 2010 14:44

Cloud.com floats into Australia


Canberra start up Cloud Central has provided an acid test for the open source Cloud Stack Platform developed by VMops,  which will next week formally launch the product and rebrand itself as Cloud.com.

Cloud Central, the brainchild of Kristoffer Sheather, sells access to a cloud of computer infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go basis, starting at 3 cents an hour. One of only two Australian organisations to have beta test copies of Cloud.com's software, the organisation is among the first in the world to roll it out into a production environment.

According to Sheather:  'This came at a very good time for us, and allowed us to get to market faster and without the level of investment we might have needed.'  Sheather said he had also considered the open source cloud platform Eucalyptus, which he felt was not sufficiently mature, and VM Ware, but found that too expensive for his business model.

Although the early VMops stack that Sheather received in November was buggy, it has been improved, and Cloud Central has also developed additional software that allowed it to launch a commercial service in mid March.

Cupertino based Cloud.com is the brainchild of Sheng Liang, who developed the Java Virtual Machine at Sun, and was a co-founder of Teros, a firewall maker sold to Citrix in 2005. In late 2008 he put a team together to develop a suite of tools that could be used to build infrastructure clouds, comprising a hyperviser to allow dynamic provisioning of resources, management tools, and end user administration tools to manage the cloud.

Peder Ulander, chief marketing office of the company, said that in November last year the organisation signed up 40 organisations around the world to trial what was then known as a the VMops cloud stack . Cloud Central was one Australian user, the other being a '$250 million Australian services provider' which Ulander declined to name.

In January the company completed a second round of venture capital funding, receiving $US17.6 million from Redpoint Ventures, Nexus Ventures and Index Ventures. According to Ulander this will allow the company to relaunch and deliver its 'Turnkey preconfigured software stack for corporations and service providers.'

The company currently has fewer than 35 employees, but is expanding and has just hired Kyle Macdonald from Hosting.com as the firm's chief evangelist.

Cloud.com's Cloud Stack Platform comes integrated with Xen and KVM hypervisors, deployed with Ubuntu, CentOS and Fedora distributions. It's also being made available open source through GPLv3 licences.

Sheather today told iTWire he bought the early version of the VMops stack as a proprietary system, and did not realise that it would be made available open source. He believes that the move to open source is nevertheless a good decision as it will provide access to source code allowing people to customise around the stack.

Cloud Central has already developed its own Cloud Centre Control Centre to work with the VMops stack, and Sheather said he was in discussion with a couple of international cloud service providers regarding the components developed in Australia.  Having the Cloud.com product launched as an open source product expanded the opportunity for more development around the stack, he said.

Ulander said that the decision to offer the system as open source code had been urged by the company's venture capital partners. 'From a distribution perspective this puts us in front of more organisations.' It would also build innovation, momentum and loyalty he said.

He also believed that being able to put something that was 'enterprise class and polished' out under an open source licence would help the company leapfrog some of the other open source cloud offerings now available.

Revenues meanwhile would flow from the support services that Cloud.com would offer, he explained.

Ulander said the decision to change the name of the company came after its original moniker prompted confusion among potential customers who weren't exactly sure what the company was about. He said that the domain and name Cloud.com had been held for about a decade by Scott Heiferman the founder of Meetup, the web based network for community organisations.

'We came to terms and acquired the name from him,' said Ulander.


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