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Virtustream takes aim at complex cloud migrations

Brandon Butler | June 19, 2014
Small IaaS provider is rubbing elbows with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google

Virtustream is one of the most successful - yet least well known - public, private and hybrid cloud computing vendors in the market. While it doesn't have the brand name recognition of the giants of this industry, such as the Amazon Web Services, Microsoft's and Google's of the world, it does have the accolades.

In Gartner's recent Magic Quadrant report it named the company, which began in 2008 and is headquartered in Washington D.C., one of the top 15 revenue-producing IaaS vendors. It received the highest marks out of the vendors analyzed for security and compliance. While it doesn't release revenue figures, it is growing by triple digits annually and was positioned overall mid-pack among its competitors by Gartner. For a 6-year old venture-backed company to be rubbing elbows with some of the big wigs of the industry isn't bad.

Virtustream is taking a unique approach to this market - one decidedly different from the AWS's and Microsoft's of the world. Instead of a massive scale, credit-card swipe, pay-as-you-go virtual machine and storage service, Virtustream wants to act as a consultant with its customers. It revels in complex workload migration into the cloud.

Co-CEO and CTO Kevin Reid describes it like this: You can't just walk into a bank and deposit $100,000; the financial institution would ask questions, making sure the money is not laundered or gained from some illicit activity. Similarly, Virtustream doesn't just allow customers to swipe a credit card and get access to hundreds of thousands of virtual machines holding sensitive data of its large enterprise customers. "We want to know our customers," says Reid, who used to manage a consulting firm that was bought by Capgemini before working at Virtustream. "We run more of what could be considered a community cloud, or a country club cloud. None of the workloads in our cloud are unknown to us - we know where they came from."

Such an approach comes with pros and cons. On the plus side, Virtustream in the past few years has grown up to be one of the leading IaaS providers for enterprise workloads, specializing in complex migrations of workloads, especially SAP and other database applications. On the downside, the company is not AWS, Microsoft, Google, Rackspace, Verizon or VMware - the companies known to be the major vendors in the IaaS market. It's a position Virtustream is trying to balance: Continue to serve its bread and butter customer with a hands-on, consultant-led approach to large enterprise users, while also attempting to grow its base.

The hybrid game
Virtustream's platform is based on custom software it has developed named xStream. It's a cloud management software that the company sells to both enterprises and service providers to build clouds, and it's the same software that the company uses as the basis for its public cloud. Similarly to how Microsoft and VMware offer customers a common software for public and on-premises private clouds, Virtustream does the same with its xStream platform. XStream sits above the hypervisor, but most customers use it with VMware's hypervisor.


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