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Stratoscale tunes Symphony for AWS hyper-converged duet

Stratoscale's latest Symphony hyper-converged upgrade adds AWS S3 object storage, Kubernetes-as-a-Service and an Application Catalog to help developers building cloud-native apps.

Stratoscale updated its hyper-converged software with a focus on becoming a better fit for Amazon Web Services, the hybrid cloud and developers.

Stratoscale Symphony 3 includes support for object storage in Amazon Simple Storage Service S3, Kubernetes-as-a-Service and an Application Catalog that lets customers install and deploy more than 130 prepackaged applications with one click.

Stratoscale built Symphony to turn x86 servers into hyper-converged clusters. The idea is to enable quick implementation of storage for cloud-native and legacy applications. Symphony installs on a master server and aggregates physical and virtual storage across other nodes in a cluster. Customers can connect their legacy storage to a Symphony cluster. Symphony orchestrates compute, storage and networking across the pool. The initial version of Symphony launched in February, supporting block storage.

With S3 support, Symphony enables S3, Elastic Compute Cloud, Elastic Block Store and Virtual Private Cloud services in Amazon Web Services (AWS) Regions. That allows a customer's developers to use AWS DevOps tools for on-premises apps. Developers can also now access the Kubernetes GUI through Symphony.

Stratoscale CEO Ariel Maislos said his goal is to give customers an on-premises AWS complement that allows them to build a hybrid cloud. He said the ability to offer similar features as AWS is critical for on-premises storage.

"The name of the game is to provide parity to the public cloud," he said. "All of our customers have one leg in the public cloud and one in a private environment. We believe if, over time, the two environments are significantly different, the private environment will be left behind and eventually abandoned. People are making their cloud journey about who the public cloud partner will be, and AWS is the 500-pound gorilla in that market."

Stratoscale's cloud strategy isn't unique. Hyper-converged leader Nutanix also bills itself as an enterprise private cloud vendor that provides a complement and/or alternative to AWS storage. Nutanix and Stratoscale both have their own KVM-based hypervisor. But there are differences in the Stratoscale and Nutanix approaches.

Nutanix packages its software on appliances it sells directly or through partners, such as Dell EMC and Lenovo. Stratoscale sells software only, publishing reference architectures for common x86 hardware platforms. While Nutanix supported VMware from the start and most of its customers still use VMware hypervisors, Stratoscale sells Symphony strictly as an alternative to VMware.

"We're saying you don't need VMware at all, because what you really want is AWS," Maislos said. "We're creating an AWS Region out of your hardware."

Gartner research director Julia Palmer said she expects Stratoscale to aggressively add features to Symphony.

"The idea is to watch where the market is going and enable as many features as possible," she said.

If the market goes to the public cloud, add public cloud features. If the market goes to containers, they add container features. Stratoscale doesn't want to be a hardware vendor; it wants to integrate with what you have in the data center.

"Some consider hyper-convergence 'data center in a box.' Stratoscale doesn't say that; it says, 'We integrate with anything you have in the data center.' Some people want storage on premises, some want it in the cloud, some want containers and some don't.  For a software vendor, it's all about having a portfolio of these features."

Maislos said Stratoscale will support other public clouds, with Microsoft Azure next. He would not give a timeline for that support yet. Stratoscale has $70 million in funding, including strategic investments from Cisco, Intel Capital and Western Digital's SanDisk.

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