Stratoscale ramps up its challenge to VMware and AWS

The three-year-old startup is releasing an updated version of Symphony, its cloud data storage software.

There's no question that Amazon Web Services has set the standard for enterprise cloud services and that other public cloud providers are taking note. The startup Stratoscale, meanwhile, says it's gaining traction with customers who want the simplicity of AWS without having to rely on the public cloud.

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"What we're seeing today is people are trying to move away from the outdated VMware infrastructure," said CEO Ariel Maislos. "They love what they're seeing in AWS -- they want to have more of that, but in their own environment, on their own terms."

Stratoscale has offered that solution since December with Symphony, a hardware-agnostic, hyperconverged software layer designed to manage a collection of x86 servers together as a single cloud infrastructure. Now, with a couple dozen customers under its belt -- coming from both legacy systems and the public cloud -- and $70m in funding from backers like Cisco and Qualcomm, the three-year-old firm is rolling out an updated version of Symphony.

"In order to set up a cloud infrastructure, it used to be a huge project," Maislos said. "What we've managed to do in Symphony is transform it into a simple experience."

The updated version has new capabilities to support significant investments already made in storage infrastructure. It supports storage arrays from EMC, NetApp, IBM, Nimble, Pure Storage, Infinidat, Oracle, HDS, and Dell. Stratoscale has also added built-in data protection, ensuring the cloud infrastructure, applications, and data are always available.

Maislos said the new version also adds the ability to easily scale up the infrastructure. Customers, he said, are looking for "not only the agility of deploying applications quickly, but also the ability to scale up and down so your costs don't get out of control". Version 2 of Symphony also provides for remote management capability, allowing for "worry-free IT".

The firm has also invested in a sleeker UI, eliminating the need to certify engineers to use complex datacenter technology.

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"There's an expectation among the iPhone generation that software should be self explanatory," Maislos said. "People who have no desire to spend months in training to be up and running."

It took Stratoscale more than two years to deploy Symphony and just eight months to roll out its first update. The next update should come even more quickly, Maislos said.

In the meantime, its competitors are updating their own hyperconverged systems. Thanks to its merger with EMC, Dell has a number of new hyperconverged infrastructure additions it's offering to datacenter buyers.

Maislos chalked up the Dell-EMC merger as a "class case of one plus one equals one". Meanwhile, he said, the entire theme around hyperconvergence -- merging one box with another -- becomes irrelevant in a software-based environment.

"The entire box business is shrinking entirely, and people are fighting over the shrinking pie," he said. "We're helping people... move toward a more agile environment that transcends the boxes."

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