Leaving Amazon and Savings Millions
Just as the news hit in February that Dropbox had saved almost $75 million by leaving Amazon Web Services, Platform9 was making the same move—for its own applications.
An “open cloud” company, Platform9 hosts open-source cloud frameworks that are typically difficult to install and maintain, and delivers them to enterprises as software as a service. From the time it launched in 2013, the company had hosted its customers’ control planes in the public cloud.
“We were a small startup, so it made logical sense to use the public cloud,” says Platform9 Cloud Architect Cody Hill. “But fast forward a few years, and we’re at the size where public cloud infrastructure is cost prohibitive. Our Amazon spend was growing out of control, so we decided to architect a cloud using our own platform. From there we could move all of our customer control planes and host them on top of our own product.”
At first, the Platform9 team considered other public cloud options. “We thought, is it possible to leverage Azure or Google to put services in different places that would ultimately be more cost effective?” says Hill. The answer, once the numbers were crunched, was no. “We did an exhaustive analysis to determine the best place to move our platform that would save us money, while not losing the operational benefits we enjoyed with the public cloud.”
This analysis pushed Platform9 to evaluate the idea of running everything on their own to achieve the necessary cost and performance benefits. Needless to say, the idea of leasing space in a colocation facility, managing their own physical servers, and dealing with operating a network quickly became daunting. “It didn’t take long for us to realize this was a false choice—we could either stay in the public cloud, or we could do it all ourselves,” says Hill. “But as a software company we want to deal with things at that level—and so we started looking for a partner for the infrastructure layer.”
Finding the Ideal Partner
Platform9 already had a sales and marketing relationship with Packet. If a customer didn’t want to own a data center or run in the public cloud, the Platform9 team would recommend Packet. And if a Packet customer needed virtual machines or containers as a service, that team would recommend Platform9. So when it came time for Platform9 to find a new infrastructure provider, Packet was on already on speed dial.
“Packet has this unique ability to deploy customizable hardware and yet provide it to us with full automation—it literally feels like we are consuming virtual machines, not dedicated servers,” says Hill. With Packet handling everything down below, including a custom Datera block storage deployment, Platform9 was able to focus on deploying and managing its cloud platform.
For due diligence, Hill and his team did an extensive evaluation of Packet and two other solutions. The first criteria was automation: “We didn’t want to have to put in a ticket to get anything done—we wanted absolutely everything from reinstalls to networking to be self-service,” says Hill. The second criteria was support, and “the customer service and the skill set of the people we talked to at Packet were above and beyond,” he adds.
Factor in a competitive price point and flexible financing options, and Packet came out ahead.
What Packet and Platform9 provide together allows any company to exit Amazon and see savings. You don’t need to own a data center, and you don’t need to build a huge cloud team to do what Dropbox did. You can do it with Platform9 and Packet.
The team began running a POC with Packet at the beginning of the year, “we had to make sure we had this rock solid so by the time our production hardware landed, we were ready to go,” says Hill.
The POC was a true collaboration. “Packet helped us build the required capabilities to handle the provider-edge networking that you get by default in the public cloud,” said Hill.
The first customer control plane was officially moved over in early March, just two weeks after the Packet servers landed, with the rest following in subsequent batches.
Do As We Say—And Do
The company’s two primary offerings today are managed OpenStack, an infrastructure as a service layer that’s competitive with Amazon’s EC2, and managed Kubernetes, a container orchestration platform comparable to Amazon’s EKS or Google’s GKE.
“We’re trying to build a platform that helps you get the same experience as a public cloud, but can be run anywhere,” says Hill. “We’re utilizing open source technologies, so our customers know exactly what they’re getting, there’s no hidden proprietary anything behind the scenes, and there’s absolutely no vendor lock-in.”
Many of Platform9’s current customers are technology companies that “understand the value of the public cloud, but are also aware of the price tag,” says Hill. Others, like Cadence Design Systems, are Fortune 500 companies that aren’t interested in staffing up technology and operations teams to build their own cloud.
Ultimately, Platform9 wants every company, no matter its size or scope, to know that they can have the latest and greatest technology—and save money too—even if they’re not a Dropbox, or a Platform9. “Dropbox exited Amazon and saved millions of dollars per year while improving its performance—and frankly we’re doing the exact same thing,” says Hill. “What Packet and Platform9 provide together allows any company to exit Amazon and see savings. You don’t need to own a data center, and you don’t need to build a huge cloud team to do what Dropbox did. You can do it with Platform9 and Packet.”