Think of it this way: ZeroStack can “build” an enterprise cloud, so now it’s gathering partners who can provide storage and computing along with it, says Steve Garrison, vice president of marketing for the Mountain View, California startup.
This isn’t just a case of Dell and HPE adding another startup to a long reseller list. ZeroStack leads the sale with its own products, Garrison says. Now it can provide the software on hyperconverged hardware from familiar names — which could help make ZeroStack more attractive to the value-added resellers that sell to enterprises, he says.
In March, ZeroStack announced general availability of its on-premises stack: an appliance that provides a private cloud, with management software that’s run by ZeroStack on its own, separate cloud. It’s like a plug-in, shrink-wrapped cloud with hands-off management.
ZeroStack is one of a few companies trying to make the cloud easier for enterprises. Platform9, for instance, can set up an OpenStack cloud on an enterprise’s own servers. The agent to do this is available in software-as-a-service form.
Cisco also has a hand in this business, with its 2014 acquisition of Metacloud. It can run an enterprise’s private cloud on-premises or in Metacloud’s data centers.
All of these options have two things in common. They’re meant to combat the perceived complexity of clouds and OpenStack — not only the challenge of setting up the cloud, but the bigger task of maintaining it day after day.
And they provide alternatives to Amazon Web Services (AWS). An enterprise might be happy having developers tinker on AWS but might want to keep production data on-premises. Or, in some cases, a company scaling up on AWS might reach a threshold where the bills become too large.
Moving to a private cloud from AWS isn’t unprecedented. Dropbox did it (although that company’s size admittedly makes it an outlier.)
The challenge is that a private cloud isn’t easy to set up and run. “Smaller brick-and-mortar organizations don’t have the resources to invest in that,” Garrison says.
“One thing I realized while spending time with VMware customers was that everybody loved the ease of use of AWS,” says Ajay Gulati, ZeroStack’s CEO and VMware’s former head of R&D. “The consumption model was great, and they wanted to take that in-house.”
ZeroStack has about 45 employees. The company raised a $16 million Series B in October, bringing its total funding to $22 million.