CFD19 - A True Private Cloud with SoftIron

You’ve likely heard stories and whispers of “on-prem” being sexy again, not that it ever wasn’t, right? But public cloud had a lot of promises, some of which it lives up to, some of which it doesn’t, and some of which it does but it’s just painfully expensive. If you’re considering a refresh of your on-prem solution, or are looking to move some or all workloads back to a solution you manage, its a great opportunity to revisit your requirements, and look at implementing an actual private cloud, rather than just a virtualisation platform which oh so many of us have seen and managed.

SoftIron presented on this very topic at CFD19, and believe they have a solution that could meet your requirements - HyperCloud.

SoftIron were founded in 2012, have a US based executive team with over 80 people on the wider team, and have $60M+ raised via equity.

Everyone likes the operating model public cloud platforms have brought to organisations and technology teams, I don’t think there’s any arguing that. But should you try to replicate this functionality on-premises to build a private cloud, typically you’ll find its a myriad of products, configurations, blood, integrations, sweat, janky scripts and “it sorta works”, and tears. Oh so many tears.

This is where SoftIron propose they HyperCloud solution, and to pinch their tagline; “A True Private Cloud in Every Data Center”. SoftIron says a true private cloud is having the ability to deploy, scale, manage, and consume, and I couldn’t agree more.

Here’s a snapshot of what’s in the solution:

HyperCloud is a hardware and software solution, and interesting it is all designed and manufactored from the component level up, all in house. The easy consumer example I think of here is Apple, who like to own the design and build of the hardware and the software, to provide the ultimate outcome for the customer. SoftIron are also targetting their solution for heavily regulated environments, and owning the design and build of the entire solution here has a lot of benefits, such as even building their own Baseboad Management Controller (BMC).

They have two manufactoring sites, one in the USA and one in Australia. Both sites have identicle equipment, and are 100% based off the same designs and guideleines which they store in git, to ensure if one of the teams makes and update or change during their working day, it is automatically and immediately available to the manufactoring team on the other side of the world.

The minimum size of a HyperCloud deployment today is 8RU, which is a fully contained private cloud solution with storage, networking and compute, and it can scale out from there. SoftIron’s average customer today is ordering at about a rack scale, or beyond. If you’re a smaller shop with 4 or 6 physical servers, then maybe this won’t be a good fit, but it would be worth reaching out and asking, as that 8U footprint will need to account for network and storage servers, as well as some control plane components.

Here’s a snaphot of the building blocks for HyperCloud:

During the presentation we briefly touched on the replication and recovery capabilities of HyperCloud. This sounded like something where this is capability within the product to do it interanlly, but they do also have a marketplace where other providers such as Veeam and Commvault can offer integrations, which cover both protecting the systems running on HyperCloud, and also potentially using the object storage in HyperCloud as a target for protection of other systems in your environment.

A fellow delegate, Maciej LeluszView, did ask about the procurement and whether this is perpetual or subscription based, and the response was simply along the lines of “it’s a combination of that, and it depends on what you need” :)

One of the things I’m always interested to hear about with “Private Cloud” solutions, is around the felxibility and offerings of “platform as a service” capabilities within the public cloud. One benefit of the hyperscalers is the ability to be able to pick a soltuion off the shelf, whether it be a load balancer, firewall, message bus, database, so on and so forth, and then quickly provision that as part of my application architecture. That’s the same capability I want to be able to offer my cloud architects and software developers on premises in a private cloud solution, ideally deploying those components with a flavour of Infrastructure as Code. I brought this up right towards the end of the session, and I totally get none of that gets built out overnight, and SoftIron have had other areas of the platform to get to market. Charles from SoftIron noted that they would be looking to leverage their marketplace to offer these solutions to customers, and ideally be able to bring in partners to help with providing those offerings on the HyperCloud private cloud platform.

I overlooked giving this feedback to Jason and Charles while at Cloud Field Day, but some hands-on with the solution would have been fantastic, but I know the presenters have limited time and need to pick and choose at what they show us. The inner technologist in me was wanting to see a bit of the nuts and bolts, but I’m sure some of that material is also available to see in some of SoftIron’s public material.

If you’re in the market for a fully integrated private cloud solution, where you don’t have to pour days and weeks in to building and integrating components only to “sorta kinda get there”, I’d strongly recommend checking out HyperCloud from SoftIron.

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