Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Wednesday, September 30, 2020
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Cisco to Acquire Piston Cloud Computing 

A wave of technology industry consolidation continues as established companies coping with market disruptions tap into their cash reserves to both acquire new capabilities while seeking synergies in areas like the steady shift to hybrid clouds.

The latest example comes from Cisco System, which announced Wednesday (June 3) it is acquiring Piston Cloud Computing, developers of an OpenStack cloud operating system used to deploy services and orchestration tools on commodity hardware. The deal builds on Cisco's acquisition last September of Metacloud, which deploys and operates private clouds based on the OpenStack cloud controller.

Both deals are intended to accelerate Cisco's Intercloud Services push designed to speed adoption of its network fabric technology as hybrid cloud services expand.

Terms of the Piston acquisition were not disclosed.

"Paired with our recent acquisition of Metacloud, Piston’s distributed systems engineering and OpenStack talent will further enhance our capabilities around cloud automation, availability and scale," Hilton Romanski, Cisco's senior vice president for business development, said in a blog post announcing the deal. The Piston acquisition "will complement our Intercloud strategy by bringing additional operational experience on the underlying infrastructure that powers Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud."

In a separate blog post, Piston executives said its OpenStack-based technology would help speed "the provisioning, deployment and automated management of large-scale distributed systems" in Cisco's network of clouds.

San Francisco-based Piston Cloud Computing unveiled a new release of its OpenStack software last September designed to automate orchestration of private clouds based on x86 servers. The software is intended to manage groups of servers as a scalable computing resource in order to improve datacenter efficiency while speeding application development and deployment.

In April, it announced the latest version of Piston CloudOS designed to unify clusters of commodity servers in datacenters. The platform is specifically intended to enable deployment of Hadoop and Spark on bare metal, with a later version supporting container orchestration tools like Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker Swarm.

Piston Cloud Computing stack.

 

The CloudOS 4.0 release followed a range of deployments since 2011 when Piston Cloud Computing was founded. The company said the upgraded cloud operating system represented its first foray into the commercial market beyond OpenStack.

Cisco said Piston would join its cloud services unit headed by Faiyez Shahpurwala, senior vice president of its Cloud Infrastructure and Managed Services Organization.

Cisco's $1 billion Intercloud effort is being positioned as an enterprise-class portfolio of technologies and cloud services designed to allow customers to build their own private clouds or use services from an Intercloud provider.

The flurry of cloud deals come as Cisco is transitioning from a networking equipment vendor to a cloud infrastructure and "Internet of Everything" specialist. A change in direction was signaled in May when long-time Cisco CEO John Chambers stepped aside. Chuck Robbins, who previously served as Cisco's senior vice president of worldwide operations, emerged from a succession battle to replace Chambers. Robbins is scheduled to assume the CEO post on July 26.

Since Robbins was named to succeed the 65-year-old Chambers, Cisco announced the departure of Robert Lloyd, president of development and sales, along with COO Gary Moore. Both had been considered front-runners to replace Chambers.

Also this week, reports surfaced that Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior, is leaving Cisco following the management shakeup.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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