Cisco invests in OpenStack company

Participates in $8 million round for Piston Cloud

Cisco has helped fund an $8 million Series B round for Piston Cloud Computing, which is developing OpenStack cloud computing orchestration systems for enterprises.  Other funders include Data Collective, Swisscom Ventures, Divergent Ventures, Hummer Winblad and True Ventures.

The funding will be used for product development, customer engagement and to assist in "mass adoption" of OpenStack. Piston Cloud closed a $4.5 million Series A round in July 2011.

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The company's flagship product is Piston Enterprise OpenStack, which is software for building and managing a private Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud on bare-metal, commodity hardware. The company also offers an OpenStack-based Virtual Desktop Infrastructure product through a licensing agreement with Gridcentric, the virtualization optimization company.

Piston Enterprise OpenStack also features integration with VMware's Cloud Foundry, an open source Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering, to enable that allows Cloud Foundry PaaS to run on OpenStack; and support for Opscode, Puppet Labs and RightScale automation systems. This allows Piston Cloud customers to automate the tasks necessary to manage applications within their private clouds, the company says.

That Piston Cloud and VMware entered into a union to develop the Cloud Foundry/OpenStack PaaS link was unlikely. A year ago, Piston Cloud antagonized VMware when it launched Piston Enterprise.

But VMware did the same to longtime partner Cisco when it acquired Nicira. Cisco might be returning the taunts with its Piston Cloud investment, an equity stake in Parallels, which makes desktop and server virtualization software, and the release of its own edition of OpenStack.

Combine all that with Cisco's increasingly broadening support for non-VMware hypervisors and you can surmise that Cisco is assembling all of the piece parts for a non-VMware virtualization solution - even as the two must uncomfortably co-exist and cooperate for the sake of their joint customers.

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