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SoftIron’s HyperCloud to ease private cloud deployments

SoftIron claims its technology stack fully automates the provisioning of storage, compute, networking and infrastructure services, providing a fully functioning, multi-tenant cloud

Enterprises looking to deploy their own private clouds often need the technical expertise to put together technology building blocks – such as compute, storage and networking – and orchestrate them to deliver a cloud infrastructure service.

SoftIron, known for its high-performance storage arrays, claims to make it easier for enterprises to do so with a new turnkey offering that removes the complexity of integrating the hardware and software layers needed to build and operate a private or hybrid cloud.

Dubbed HyperCloud, the technology fully automates the provisioning of storage, compute, networking and infrastructure services, providing a fully functioning, multi-tenant cloud that can be deployed in half a day and scale almost infinitely.

Kenny Van Alstyne, SoftIron’s chief technology officer, said the HyperCloud stack was built using open-source components like the Ceph software-defined storage, the KVM hypervisor, Linux containers (LCX) and Firecracker for managing micro virtual machines, among others.

“We don’t really want to reinvent those pieces that the industry considers as standard,” Van Alstyne told Computer Weekly.

“We truly put together a platform for building clouds – we literally deliver the networking switches – which are the only nodes that have state – and from there, everything else is stateless.

“The storage nodes are meant to be plugged in and consumed by the cloud, the compute nodes, whether they’re Arm or x86, the storage, whether they are HDDs [hard disk drives], SSDs [solid-state drives] or NVMe [non-volatile memory express] are also consumed by that cloud and turned into a resource that you can consume,” he said.

Interest from governments

Van Alstyne said SoftIron is already seeing interest in HyperCloud from governments, especially those in the Asia-Pacific region, which are looking to build their own sovereign clouds and reduce their reliance on US hyperscalers, as well as enterprises that are pulling workloads out of public clouds.

“There are several government entities that have already deployed HyperCloud, and they find it extremely compelling versus things like AWS Outposts or Azure Stack, because they get to treat their environment like a consumable resource, and they don’t have to give public cloud providers access to their data,” he added.

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In addition, organisations can choose to run their own application platforms, such as OpenShift, on top of HyperCloud and manage their own Kubernetes workloads. “If you already settled on a PaaS product, you could bring that on top of HyperCloud as you’d expect, and it works just fine,” he said.

For those operating hybrid cloud environments, Van Alstyne said integrations with Azure and AWS are available for customers that want to burst their virtual machine and object storage workloads to those clouds: “We might extend that, for example, to Google Cloud, where we’ve had a couple of business opportunities.”

With HyperCloud, all of the hardware is supplied by SoftIron, which means organisations will not be able to use their own hardware with the platform. He said the biggest reason for that is that SoftIron manufactures its own baseboard management controller, which enables it to do the bare metal provisioning that is unique to its hardware.

That said, Van Alstyne noted that SoftIron is “pretty bold about its open source vision”, with no intention to lock users to its platform.

“We even provide documentation on how to get your data off our platform and import it into another environment like Red Hat Virtualisation or an OpenStack cloud,” he said. “We hope you won’t, and we haven’t seen anybody do that, but we want to get rid of that fear that we’re locking you into our platform. The only reason we require our hardware is to provide that consistent, coherent experience that allows you to scale your cloud out without having the expertise to manage each of those discrete cloud resources.”

SoftIron, which has a manufacturing facility in Sydney, is among the datacentre technology and cloud suppliers that have doubled down on private and hybrid cloud offerings favoured by organisations with strict data residency and security requirements.

Earlier this month, Oracle announced Alloy, the cloud infrastructure platform that partners and enterprises can run in their own datacentres to address regulatory requirements, effectively turning them into cloud providers.

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