OpenStack’s extended family continues to innovate

Two of the core developers of OpenStack, the open-source cloud-computing platform that was launched last year by Rackspace and NASA, are seizing the opportunity they helped forge to create more cloud solutions for enterprises and find more success in the cloud computing industry.

Joshua McKenty and Christopher MacGown have co-founded Piston Cloud Computing, a software company that is developing commercialized OpenStack software for businesses. Piston’s software aims to extend the OpenStack solution to address security, performance and lifecycle management issues of hybrid cloud approaches. The company has been stealthy to date, but its blog says that its software “specializes on the federation of large, complex datasets that have regulatory requirements for authentication and access control.”

Piston certainly has the pedigree to expand upon the innovation of OpenStack: Its co-founders came from the technical teams at NASA and Rackspace, and were instrumental in helping create the OpenStack project in 2010. OpenStack has more than 1100 contributors and, at last count, 82 participating companies—including Rackspace and NASA but also companies like Citrix, Intel, Cisco, Arista Networks and Dell.

McKenty, Piston’s co-founder and CEO, was the cloud architect of NASA’s Nebula Cloud infrastructure, the precursor of OpenStack’s cloud computing component, and holds an appointed seat on OpenStack’s policy board. Piston CTO MacGown, meanwhile, was a technical lead at SliceHost, which was acquired by Rackspace in 2008.

The team’s background and expertise has helped Piston raise $4.5 million in venture capital funding, in a round led by Hummer Winblad and True Ventures, with Divergent Ventures and other firms participating. Lars Leckie from Hummer Winblad, and Puneet Agarwal from True Ventures will join Piston’s board of directors.

Piston’s technology is currently in limited beta, and companies interested in participating can contact the developer at [email protected], it’s difficult to predict how Piston will fit in from a competitive standpoint. What’s certain, however, is that projects like OpenStack have produced some of the most innovative minds in cloud computing and have piqued the interest of the industry (note Citrix’s recent acquisition of Cloud.com). The ideas and companies that continue to spin out of those efforts are sure to go a long way in advancing the development and ongoing refinement of the cloud computing sector.

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