Blue Box founder Proudman talks OSCON, OpenStack, IBM future!

When IBM announced in June that it had acquired Seattle-based Blue Box, which offers private clouds as a service via OpenStack, analysts and IT experts called it a step forward for IBM’s hybrid cloud capabilities.

Now more than a month into the relationship—and with OSCON fast approaching—we wanted to get a better idea of where Blue Box will fit in the IBM Cloud portfolio. We went back to the source, Blue Box founder Jesse Proudman, to see how the transition is going, and where they’re headed.

Thoughts on Cloud: Blue Box has been an IBM company now for a little over a month. What has that month been like for you and your team?

Proudman: It’s been a blur of ideas and action, fueled by a phenomenal integration team and lots of 5-Hour Energy. The more we dig into the details, the more we realize just how much sense this combination makes. Most importantly, I’m incredibly proud that we’ve been able to recruit 11 new team members to the Blue Box family in the first month under the IBM Cloud umbrella.

ToC: What does the future hold for Blue Box within IBM?

Proudman: We’re staying focused on the immediate future, on getting things done. The second half of 2015 has three priorities. First, we’ll complete the integration of our teams: engineering and go-to-market are the key priorities. Our engineering team will continue building the Box Panel suite of operations tooling that deploys and manages private clouds for our customers. At the same time, they’ll be working in the field to push Blue Box private cloud as a service into IBM client and SoftLayer data centers worldwide. Our marketing team will work with the broad IBM consulting organization to equip them with the knowledge and resources to help IBM customers and clients understand the role that OpenStack-powered PCaaS can play in their overall cloud strategy.

(Related: Jesse Proudman and other cloud experts offer insights in the webcast “Top ways to get the most from cloud management“)

ToC: Has anything surprised you since Blue Box became part of Big Blue?

Proudman: Both how insanely smart members of the IBM team are, and the breadth of expertise and knowledge that exists inside Big Blue. IBM is 430,000 strong, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the caliber of folks we’ve met.

ToC: You’re heading to OSCON next week. What are your expectations in terms of hot topics and trends heading in to the conference?

Proudman: OSCON is an odd duck in the roster of cloud conferences. It’s more about the philosophy and culture of open source than advocating or demonstrating new commercial technologies. In fact, it tends to be a great spot for recruiting engineering talent.

With that as a backdrop, we’re going to be looking for conversations about container management and container cluster management. Enterprises are obviously interested in how containers are managed and operated in production. They want tooling and support that helps them deliver containers reliably and in compliance with policies. Preferably, they’d like to do this within the cloud infrastructure they’re already running, rather than starting over with a new stack. This is a shift in the conversation, where names like CoreOS, Magnum, Rancher and Kubernetes are more important than things further down the stack like Docker itself. It’ll be interesting to continue to watch how this all plays out.

ToC: You recently wrote that you don’t believe there’s consolidation happening within OpenStack right now. Could you expand a bit on your view of why you think the opposite is happening?

Proudman: Consolidation can mean several things. In the context of OpenStack, the term been used recently to suggest that there is oversupply in the market. That’s ludicrous. What we see instead is a market maturing with new business models emerging to support the consumption patterns customers are embracing.

In my blog post about the failure of OpenStack distributions, I make the case that software distributions of OpenStack have failed because the vast majority of enterprises don’t want to touch OpenStack. Instead, they just want to consume it. So, early distro providers who’ve been acquired are helping larger companies build out a more comprehensive suite of services to meet the realities of a rapidly growing market.

That’s not a consolidation. It’s a realignment of resources in the face of an evolving market.

(Related: Read Jesse Proudman’s Thoughts on Cloud article “OpenStack: The myth of the middle“)

ToC: What do you think Blue Box brings to the table with its OpenStack offering that sets it apart?

Proudman: We make it possible to spin up dedicated private cloud resources in a nearly on-demand environment. We can do this in our data centers or yours, across an ever expanding geography. Customers are embracing it, and we’re excited to be building something that’s perfectly positioned for where the market is going. This is truly unique positioning in the marketplace.

ToC: You also wrote recently that “most enterprise buyers want OpenStack without having to touch OpenStack.” How are you addressing this unique challenge?

Proudman: We started by assembling an incredibly talented team of OpenStack and infrastructure experts coupled with a very robust management technology. Then, we combined forces with IBM, an organization with the resources to deliver OpenStack solutions that the market has been demanding since before they knew the name, OpenStack. Now together, we’re developing a highly competitive product roadmap that I look forward to sharing more about in a future interview.Blue Box founder Proudman talks OSCON, OpenStack, IBM future!

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