Aussie cloud computing startup Joviam takes on the US

Joviam says its cloud platform uses technology that is different to AWS and Azure, and is well-suited to small to medium-size enterprises.
Written by Tas Bindi, Contributor

Gabby Jarrett, co-founder and director at Joviam

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Joviam has announced its expansion into the US for a bigger slice of the cloud computing market.

The two-year-old startup's mission is to make cloud computing more accessible to mid-market companies by providing a platform with "enterprise-grade performance and stability" at a lower price point than Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

Joviam co-founder and director Gabby Jarrett told ZDNet that the startup uses a "fully redundant, hyperconverged architecture" that aggregates commodity servers into a large cluster, as well as InfiniBand, a network technology used in large scale supercomputers, to tie multiple servers together into a large resource pool.

Rather than scaling storage and compute independently of each other, Jarrett said all servers in Joviam's cluster have storage, CPU, and memory resources that the startup aggregates to power its customers' virtual machines (VMs).

"Users are also able to attach and detach disks and IP address, and make live clones of their disks all without needing to turn their VMs off -- this is all done as the VMs are live and continue to run, therefore there is no disturbance to the end user," Jarrett said.

By not investing in proprietary hardware, Jarrett explained that Joviam is able to purchase "better components" such as enterprise-grade solid state drives (SSDs), and offer its services at a lower cost.

"Due to this architecture, we do not buy any proprietary hardware or license any software. We leverage the same commodity hardware commonly used by webscale companies such as Facebook, in addition with our software stack to deliver a high performance resilient cloud platform," Jarrett said.

Joviam claims Microsoft Azure is 65 percent more expensive, while AWS is 30-40 percent more expensive, based on the per GB cost of the Dv2 instance family compared with the per GB cost of disk across the regions supported by the startup.

Companies that run systems on Linux, with 8GB RAM, 1TB SSD storage, 1TB data transfer, and 2 IP addresses would be paying AU$303.30 for Joviam, compared to AU$389.56 for AWS, and AU$517.15 for Azure, Jarrett said.

"On Azure, disks must be purchased in block amounts of 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and so on. Customers are not given flexible increments for disk provisioning. The per GB cost of disk would be far higher for any customer looking to use, say, less than 32GB of disk, or between 64GB and 128GB. Furthermore, Azure limits IOPS based on the size of the VM and the size of the disk," she added.

Jarrett said the company's platform is like a "blank slate", enabling small to medium-size enterprises to build on top of it without being locked into a vendor's ecosystem of products.

"We're also highly configurable so users are able to get into the server and configure it the way that they want it to be based on their needs ... They don't have to work within the confines of a specific cloud provider's box," Jarrett added.

Joviam, which has been self-funded to date, took up residence in Equinix's datacentre in Sydney, and will be expanding into the company's datacentre in Melbourne by the end of the year. Joviam also soft-launched in San Francisco two weeks ago, taking up residence in the Equinix SV2 datacentre.

As to why the US was selected as the startup's next launch location, Jarrett said "it's just a gigantic market", adding that the US will account for half of the global cloud computing market within three years.

"The gap that we've identified in Australia, we also feel is very evident in the US in terms of finding that balance between robust tech that's priced appropriately for the mid-market," Jarrett said.

She admitted that Joviam is a "small fish in a very big pond that is consistently growing", and that competing against big names such as AWS, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and VMware will not be easy.

"The challenge that we face is the hurdle of changing market expectations and the assumptions of what's possible with publicly available clouds. I think the assumption is the things you can do with our cloud, the performance levels we offer, the tech that we offer is only available at an enterprise fee. We have to show them that it's accessible now to everybody," Jarrett said.

"There's a huge propensity for the market to just ... go to the providers whose name comes to the forefront of their minds rather than actually considering technical capabilities of other potentially smaller providers.

"So brand awareness, especially in the US, is where we're concentrating going forward."

The company did not disclose the size of its customer base, but named Travel Massive, Slattery IT, and Sunswift as local customers. Jarrett said the company already has global customers, with some local ones spinning up in the US after being notified of Joviam's expansion.

The company is close to finishing its development on GPU-focused instances and is looking into bare metal dedicated hardware service options for customers, Jarrett said.

Joviam is also eyeing the Asian and European markets, but will focus on the US for the next 12 months.

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