Stratoscale bets UX, simplicity can democratize the data center

Stratoscale is up against a few giants with its data center operating system and aims to bring AWS simplicity to internal enterprise operations.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Stratoscale is a startup going after giants like VMware by providing data center management software that aims to "bring an Amazon-like experience to on-prem."

According to Ariel Maislos, founder and CEO at Stratoscale, data center and information technology managers should have a application that manages data centers and cloud resources with an iPhone experience. In other words, Maislos' plan is to simplify data center, private cloud and ultimately public cloud management with the complexity hidden.

Maislos' company uses OpenStack, KVM, networking and storage to create software defined data centers that are easy to consume.

To hear Maislos tell it, what the enterprise lacks is management tools that hides complexity and the technology underneath. In other words, Stratoscale is betting the ranch that it can provide a simple user experience and win enterprises over. Enter the data center scale operating system.

The concept makes sense. In this month's special report on the user experience of enterprise experience highlights the issue. When it comes to comparing enterprise user experiences vs. consumer there's not comparison. Enterprise vendors are closing the design gap, but there's a lot of work to do. Not surprisingly, complexity is the second largest user experience complaint, according to our TechPro Research survey this month.


What's interesting about Maislos approach is that he wants on-premises deployments to be as easy as AWS. AWS's interfaces are very utilitarian and the design beauty is that the cloud giant gives you enough stuff, but not too much. Another analogy to ponder is that Stratoscale is looking to be the Google Docs to VMware's Microsoft Office kitchen sink approach.

Toss in the idea that Stratoscale can commoditize hardware, virtualization and the software defined data center with simple subscription pricing and you see the potential ahead. Stratoscale's roadmap includes a 2.0 version of its Symphony data center operating system in the months ahead and connections to mange public cloud resources.

"Enterprises are asking for two things. They want to stop paying the VMware tax and they want to move from AWS to an environment they control," said Maislos. "We're focusing on enabling the same experience so they can manage 10 servers or 1,000."

Add it up and Stratoscale is looking to combine x86 commodity hardware and the reality that it'll be the infrastructure for everything from storage to compute to networking and AWS' approach for internal deployments. Maislos reckons that only Facebook and Google have that internal simplicity today. You shouldn't need a dozen certifications to run a data center operating system, said Maislos.


Maislos has been able to witness Apple's UX approach up close even though he was in a different unit than the design team. Maislos was president and co-founder of Anobit Technologies, which was acquired by Apple. He was senior director of NAND Flash for Apple for a year after the Anobit purchase.

"I've always been fascinated by the 1+1=3 approach and how the whole is better than the sum of parts," said Maislos. "We looked at the data center and saw something missing."

He argues that VMware gives you 50,000 knobs when you may only need 50 to run a data center. AWS brought a Henry Ford approach to the cloud. "People accepted that you can buy any cloud you want but it's black," he said. "It gave companies agility. The software defined data center should actually be consumable to IT."


At the end of our chat, I asked Maislos how Stratoscale could avoid making Symphony bloated. After all, every application that was successful started as a disrupter and ultimately wound up bloated with features. How do you avoid a bloated data center operating system five years from now?

"It will take a lot of discipline and a better product. You need core functionality of storage, networking and compute, but better may not mean faster storage. Better means more accessible storage and the ability to scale it into the cloud. There are many different degrees of better these days," said Maislos. "We're an investment in democratizing the cloud experience."

ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. As a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet's global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the US.

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