Platform9 readies edge cloud tech as new CEO joins

Bhaskar Gorti, formerly of Nokia, says telcos are now converted on cloud. The next step is managing those cloud deployments at scale, across multiple environments.

Cloud management software company Platform9 has hinted that it is on the verge of launching software that will enable operators to manage multi-cloud edge deployments at large scale.

New CEO Bhaskar Gorti, four weeks into the job after leaving a senior role at Nokia at the end of 2020, told TMN that the company is already working with customers to roll out deployments of the edge-focussed cloud service product at large scale. One of those includes a large operator that could deploy up to 20,000 nodes with Platform9 technology over time.

“So our customers and our partners already know about it. A couple are already live in a non-telco environment. It is public that we have been working with Mavenir for the past year or so, and from that we built a number of advanced networking enhancements into our stack, creating a containerised platform that is now very suitable for large scale, Tier 1 deployments.”

Gorti joined Platform9 this year after “choosing to leave” Nokia at the end of 2020, where he spent six years building up its software unit – including building a cloud-native software stack – into a $3 billion a year business. He first came across Platform9 when he was building Nokia’s cloud software stack.

“We [Nokia] were evolving our platform to take Open Source components, supplier components, building the stack. And we started running into challenges where we were not able to respond to customers because of the speed and velocity of some of our suppliers. We were thinking about whether we do cloud-native orchestration and container management ourselves, or should we look at an alternative, and that’s when I was introduced to Platform9, in 2019.”

The  biggest issue operators have, is how do they increase the velocity of going to production at scale

In fact, that opportunity came a little to soon for Platform9’s own market readiness, but Gorti had been impressed and kept a watching brief on the company. Now he wants to apply his skills to speed up its go-to-market so that it can support more large scale deployments of its software at major clients.

That includes Tier One telcos that Gorti says are interested in gaining a cloud-agnostic management capability that would enable them to deploy and control CNFs and cloud based applications across public/private and edge environments.

To that end, Platform9 wants to be seen as a neutral party, providing a third option besides telcos building their own cloud orchestration capability or relying on the “walled gardens” of the hyperscalers.

“They [telcos] are no longer evaluating cloud-native, or asking should they go containers-based. They are past that. The  biggest issue operators have, and they are all working in different ways, is how do they increase the velocity of going to production at scale. They have functions in the core or their own networks, some in metro, some in edge. The challenge is to have one common infrastructure or control plane, one pane of glass, where you can put your CNFs on and simply choose the locations you go to. That is the next step.”

Several operators are making their cloud management selections right now. For example,  VMWare and Vodafone recently announced that VMWare would be supporting Vodafone’s cloud deployments.

Gorti said, “The announcement is great; let’s see the rollout. In this particular case, knowing the elements of the stack, a huge amount is still virtualisation and hypervisor, we’ll see how VMWare’s cloud platform will go. So when we see news like anybody making such a giant commitment, I feel excited that they are already converted. We have a SaaS model, very light touch, so that a customer can bring up a cluster in one day, with a plan to bring that down to five minutes. I will take that to any fight, any day. So these announcements only excite us.”

For now then, his task is to channel that excitement to build an enhanced company that can take on those opportunities.

“We are working out how we go to market. We already have almost 100 customers with over 100% net retention, 40,000 nodes under management. We are SaaS and have proven we can land in a company and get a licence enterprise-wide. But now for me the question is ‘How can I bring the right resources in the right places?'”

Gorti said the company has three digit year on year sales growth, plus great proven technology and skills, but “it is resource-constrained.” As it expands it will be recruiting outside the US so that it can service international customers, and it would look to double its R&D over the next twelve months as it further strengthens its investment base.