In a nutshell, Cloud 66 is an online platform for provisioning, configuring, deploying and managing a full software stack including Webservers, databases and messaging systems. The idea behind Cloud 66 is to build a solution that gives customers the convenience of a PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) but without locking them into the underlying IaaS or hardware layer inherent in most of the PaaS offerings today.
Led by CEO and founder Khash Sajadi (@khash), Cloud 66 is based in London with team members in San Francisco and Istanbul, among other exotic locales. Cloud 66 is also one of the first partners of the Telefonica Cloud: Khash and his team have made it far simpler for customers to develop, deploy and run apps on the Telefonica Instant Servers cloud platform. Here is an edited interview I conducted with Khash in late February.
Q: So why did you start Cloud 66? What niche did you hope to fill?
A: We saw that there is a shift in the software development paradigms that is not affected by cloud computing. With the cloud, you can get a server up and running in minutes. But this hasn’t changed the way we develop software on hardware. We still treat those boxes as servers. We write our code for servers but we push it into the cloud. We saw that PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) is trying to move away from the concept of boxes. They are trying to have a NoOps (no operations) approach. PaaS says, “Don’t worry about infrastructure, give us the code, and we’ll make sure it’s highly available and scalable.”
What we found is that there is a place in the middle where people love the convenience and reduced operations of PaaS but still need some control over their servers or their cloud instances. They might have legacy systems. They might have hybrid processes. They might not want full exposure to one vendor. There are still use cases where you want more control and flexibility. This comes at a cost of losing everything good about PaaS. That’s where we started building Cloud 66 – to make something as convenient as PaaS except that it runs on your own infrastructure or on the cloud vendor of your choice.”
Q: Is it cost or convenience that is driving your user adoption?
We thought it would be about the cost. PaaS is expensive because the paid tiers are supporting the free ones and freemium users dominate. Using a PaaS for production is not cheap. But people that graduate from PaaS don’t do it only because of costs. They also don’t like to the lack of control. So for the largest PaaS, Heroku – you have to be on Amazon because Heroku runs on AWS. It’s nice to run a NoOps application but you are running it not on your own terms and not using best practices.”
Q: So Cloud 66 started as a fully-formed idea of providing the NoOps convenience of PaaS but the flexibility to control your infrastructure layer?
A: Actually, no. We wanted to market and sell the different building blocks of Cloud 66 – scheduling, orchestration, provisioning, management of tasks and configurations. Based on pressure from our customers and our sales strategies, we changed those components and used them ourselves to build the whole platform on top of that foundation. We started with an app store for sysops to do lots of things – one of which was to provision a server to do a specific thing.
Q: How do you integrate with scripting languages like Chef, Puppet and Jenkins? They would seem to do some of what Cloud 66 does.
A: We acknowledge that people use scripting languages and we allow them to use those language within Cloud 66. We have a split of customers and demand when it comes to those languages. There is one part who would love not to do Chef or Puppet or have to use a dedicated person to do it. The other side is people who have such custom requirements that they need some sort of organized configuration management like Chef and Puppet and have a complex existing workflow that cannot be easily replaced. For the first type of people, we are a replacement for Chef or Puppet.
Cloud 66 is a more simple way to handle that. Then we have the advanced side of the market and we can fit into that workflow. If you had to write a lot of Chef and Puppet to scale up a firewall and load balancers and provision a lot of things, you can integrate your entire Chef script with Cloud 66 in one or two calls. We also have pre-built recipes that we can integrate your app into our existing flow.”
Q: Where can Cloud 66 customers deploy their apps in the cloud?
A: We are working with five other vendors as well as Telefonica Instant Servers. We have over 700 customers and do have a significant list of paying customers. And we have partnerships with key vendors such as Logentries (for log-file management) and Dome9 (cloud security). Currently we only support Ruby on Rails application deployment but we plan to expand that to other runtime environments very quickly.
Q: What do you like about Telefonica Instant Servers?
A: Once you have a virtual server up and running, that server tends to be very solid and stable – more stable than virtual servers on other vendors. The connection is always there. The IP addresses don’t change as other vendors might. It’s a very good service.