The title says it all, right? This week, as part of Cloud Field Day 2, I visited Accelerite.

Accelerite is a wholly owned business of Persistent Systems, and they do a bunch of stuff. It’s hard to pinpoint what their core product is, nor do the products align or integrate tightly. In other words, it’s a portfolio company. One with an interesting strategy, though. More on that a little later.

But first, let’s see what this company does.

The Portfolio

In short, they have a couple of core products, and they describe it as follows:

Accelerite’s software suite of cloud, IoT solutions and advanced endpoint management make it easy for enterprises to simplify and secure today’s complex, ever-evolving infrastructure. Fortune 500s, SMEs, operators, service providers and VARs around the world rely on Accelerite products to secure connected enterprises from a single pane view, quickly and easily build private and public enterprise clouds, and bring connected things to life with rapid IoT service creation and enrichment.

Yes, that doesn’t really tell us much. They have a few core products:

  1. Rovius; a CloudStack-based Cloud Management Portal.
  2. Concert; an IoT platform
  3. ShareInsights; enterprise big data and analytics platform
  4. Sentient; endpoint security

During our briefing, we mostly focussed on Rovius and CloudPlatform, so I’ll dive into those a little deeper. I want to explain how Accelerite built this pretty varied portfolio though.

The Strategy

What strikes me most was their acquisition strategy. They acquire undervalued technology or companies that have adjacent value, and build from that. This way, they don’t have to start from scratch with every product, but have a solid base to work with.

As they explained this strategy, I noticed that they find products that are technically o.k., but have lacked proper execution and go-to-market with their previous owner. It’s like training a misbehaving adopted puppy with horrible previous owners to be a good dog.

So they take these technologies, and find a new go-to-market, use case and customer value. This requires them to look at the market very critically: not just finding those dogs up for adoption, but being able to recognize hidden value and potential underneath. This requires a different team than I’m used to at startups, and this showed. The presenters were very articulate and on-point regarding this strategy, and it seems they value software developers as part of the acquisition strategy (i.e. developers are not core to the company, but core to a product or technology). This strategy gives them flexibility to adopt better technology for a given use case or re-purpose adopted technology for a different use case. They distinguish core technology and its productization effectively.

A direct result of this strategy is CloudPlatform, and by extension Rovius. Accelerite bought this platform from Citrix back in 2016.

Open Source

On a side-note, I want to highlight one aspect that surprised me even more. Even though this is a different company than usual, they do focus on Open Source and the communities around those projects (i.e. developers, developers, developers) more than average. As they explained, being co-dependant on such communities to extend and re-focus the acquired products helps to kickstart the development process, increase code quality and speed up the development and release cycle.

But there’s alway a down-side. Specifically, control over the underlying open source project and community. What happens if the community steers the project in a different direction that does not align with the commercial offerings? Accelerite was very explicit about this: they’ll keep their eyes open for change, as open source projects tend to suffer under the shared ownership where multiple companies fight to steer a project resulting in a fish, dead in the water. Let’s not discuss what happened to OpenStack in this blog post (instead, read my post Can Platform9 solve fundamental OpenStack challenges?).

Rovius and CloudPlatform

Back to Rovius. Rovius is their Managed CloudPlatform offering. In other words, a fully managed, turn-key SaaS solution. Not unlike Platform9 and Nirmata, they see the value of hosting hard-to-do-yourself infrastructure management software where the SaaS application hosts the control and management plane, and the data plane (i.e. the hosts) reside on-prem or in the public cloud. Rovius supports managed Docker and Kubernetes besides the more regular IaaS model.

CloudPlatform, in turn, is an Apache CloudStack based Cloud Orchestration platform in a box. CloudPlatform packages up CloudStack in an easy-to-consume, enterprise-ready format to be used on-prem.

I like this three-tiered (CloudStack as the open source base layer, CloudPlatform as the managed on-prem solution and Rovius as the fully managed SaaS solution) approach. This speaks to the flexibility of the Rovius offering, and the option of moving to a different base layer when, say, OpenStack becomes the more stable platform, or when CloudStack community development is abandoned.

CloudPlatform and Rovius support multiple hypervisors (VMware vSphere, Citrix XenServer, KVM, or Microsoft Hyper-V) and has a bare-metal provisioning service.

Hybrid Cloud consumption

With Rovius, it’s important to see that it’s not just a Cloud Management Platform like VMware’s vCloud Director, which is used by Service Providers to offer up resources as an IaaS platform. It’s more akin VMware’s vRealize Automation, orchestrating multiple platforms like a Service Provider’s platform, an on-prem private cloud and various public cloud resources. This is the true power of Rovius: being able to manage workloads across different (cloud) environments and formats (VM’s, containers)

That makes Rovius a solid hybrid cloud offering, allowing organizations to manage all kinds of resources from a single UI, API, tools and scripts. Taking the move to public clouds into consideration, being able to deploy workloads to public cloud from the same UI that manages on-prem resources is a big plus.

Comparing clouds…

What I’m missing here though is a sound solution for comparing and contrasting cloud characteristics. Part of wanting to go for a hybrid cloud strategy is picking and choosing the best platform for any given use case, right? I would want to see options in Rovius to compare clouds based on price, availability, performance and other policy-driven information. I’m sure features like this are on the roadmap, though.

Concluding

I like Accelerite’s vision of acquiring last-years tech and apply it to new problems, as they did with Rovius, based on the acquisition of Citrix CloudPlatform. This out-of-grace technology was deemed still relevant and sound, flexible enough to aid organizations in their hybrid cloud strategy execution. Thus, Accelerite bought it and put it to good use.
And with success, it seems. Rovius is a solid offering and takes all the pain out of deploying a hybrid cloud management platform, which is what organizations want. Managing workloads across different cloud environments is becoming commodity, not a differentiator, and what’s better than having a turn-key solution for a commodity, right?
Certainly comparing to other, more complex to deploy solutions, like VMware’s vRealize Automation, Rovius seems to be the right solution.

I wonder, though, how long Rovius will stay relevant, as new deployment and operational models for workloads are emerging. The trending topics are no longer the Virtual Machine and IaaS, but serverless, Functions-as-a-Service, Containers and Kubernetes; all of which solve the application modernization problem from a more inside-out approach (microservice architectures, containerization, etc.) and other hybrid cloud platforms, mainly Azure Stack, are emerging, and where Rovius will have fierce competition from Platform9 and other Managed OpenStack providers.

Lastly, I fear that Rovius will be used as just a point solution to single-pass migrate workloads from on-prem to public clouds, instead of being used on an ongoing basis to move workloads around based on performance, price or other metrics.