Cloud Companies to Watch: Enterprise OpenStack Pioneer – Piston

If you are not familiar with the company called Piston Cloud Computing, chances are you’re going to be within a few years, since the startup is currently developing technology that will give way to the next generation of Internet cloud services. Basically, Piston Cloud Computing is going to pave the way for changes on the Internet on a level never before seen since the Internet itself was invented.

While there are already a lot of startups working on cloud computing, Piston is on an entirely new level for the following reasons:

Piston Cloud Computing’s cofounder. Joshua McKenty, was one of the lead developers of Openstack

Openstack is a new cloud technology that has prompted all the big enterprise players to start another battle for market dominance, with Red Hat, Citrix, and Vmware all developing their own tech.

Openstack works much in the same way as an OS for clouds, but it’s bigger as it includes the storage, the computers, and even the network. It’s also open source, which lead to Rackspace creating an Openstack foundation designed to build a following for the tech, a following that already has 170 companies that include big name players such as AMD, HP, Cisco, and Yahoo.

Openstack was born at NASA

McKenty originally started working on Openstack when he was with NASA and the tech was still under a different name: the Nebula Project.

Piston employs a bunch of ex-NASA engineers to work on the potential of cloud computing, and Openstack in particular

One of the main reasons why this is noteworthy is that you can’t simply make a single NASA engineer quit their job and work for you, you have to convince him that what you’re offering is cooler than working for NASA. Piston did that, many times over.

According to McKenty, cloud computing and Openstack are gamechanging technologies, and the NASA engineers were convinced that they will be working on something that will be a huge part of society in the future. McKenty further predicts that there will be nothing but cloud within Five years.

Piston Cloud has a commercial version of Openstack targeted for enterprises

A big part of Openstack is targeted towards service providers, with Piston working under a business model called “Open Core”, which is similar to the one used by Red Hat, wherein users pay for subscriptions instead of licenses.

Piston managed to strike a partnership with one of its biggest competitors, VMware

This proves that Piston doesn’t let pride or ego get in the way, and will work together with a competitor if it will benefit the technology. With VMware and Piston’s partnership, their two clouds working together could prove to be a gain for the industry in general, as VMware is already enjoying a healthy relationship with enterprises.

So far, Piston has managed to raise $5 million, with $4.5 of it coming from Series A via Hummer Winblad and True Ventures. $5 million may not seem much in the industry, but bear in mind that Piston is only 17 months old. Most no-name startups will struggle to get a single investor that early, much less an investor willing to risk $5 million, unless they see a lot of potential in the company. According to McKenty, they were given a term sheet even though they don’t even have a prototype built yet.

Piston already has a handful of big name customers with its Series A, and we can expect that the startup won’t have any trouble finding backers once Series B comes around.

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