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Spin-out OS33 uncloaks in puff of cloud, lets tools hang out

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Security for virtualized datacentres

A startup called OS33 has just come out of stealth mode and wants to run your cloudy infrastructure from its cloud-based tools. This is what you might call cloud-on-cloud action.

The company, which is based in the unlikely IT hot-spot of Brooklyn, New York, is a spin-out of a managed service provider called, appropriately enough, External IT. Jacob Kazakevich, who is president and chief technology officer at OS33, was one of the co-founders of External IT, which is based in Dallas, and was in fact the MSP's CTO from 2002 through 2008.

In 2006, External IT was unhappy with the tools available to manage its systems and started creating its own tools. In 2009, the MSP decided it didn't want to be in the software tools business even as it was using the OS33 tools internally and word of mouth had spread of the tools, which have been deployed at five other MSPs even before OS33 was formally launched. Kazakevich says there are cloudy server, storage, and network slices being used by several thousand companies that have their infrastructure hosted at External IT.

The OS33 tools are a collection of programs written in C#, JavaScript, and AJAX that run on Windows servers and Web browsers. The program is not open-source and it does not run on Linux, which means some MSPs won't give it a whirl, but it can nonetheless be used to deploy Windows or Linux server instances running on the XenServer, Hyper-V, or ESX Server hypervisors – as well as applications streamed down from them using Citrix Systems' XenApp or Microsoft's App-V.

The tool can also be used to interface with public clouds such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon EC2, Google Apps, GoGrid or Rackspace Cloud (others will come in subsequent releases) and can also be used to provision users on Sage or Intuit online accounting applications. (Again, interfaces to other SaaS-style programs are in the works.)

The OS33 1.0 tools were only used internally at External IT, but the subsequent releases put out this year were also tested by the five other MSPs, culminating in the OS33 2.4 release being announced now.

The OS33 tool has four parts. The Web-based graphical user interface is used by system administrators to gain full access to the features of the tool but can also be presented in a restricted mode and used as a self-service portal for MSPs to peddle their virtual wares as well as links to other cloudy services. This Web-based GUI can be customised so the MSP's brand appears on it, which is important to some of OS33's customers. (MSPs want to look like the smart guys who made the clever tool, like everyone else in the world.) This Web interface to OS33 is designed to work from Windows or Mac clients.

The Cloud Connector is the back-end of the tool that has interfaces into the hypervisors to provision private cloud slices or to the public clouds to manage these instances. (You have to independently create server images on the public clouds before OS33 can see them and take control of them.) The Cloud Control Panel is what is used to manage the multiple-tenant clouds with virtual server slices inside of the MSP, and the Application Delivery module is what interfaces with XenApp or App-V to stream Windows applications or with Web applications running on the server slices and control user access to them.

OS33 is charging around $2,500 for a starter kit aimed at MSPs or internal data centres. The code runs on OS33's own data centres, which are located in Texas, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California. Each Cloud Control Panel licence on top of that costs $695, the Cloud Connector costs $200, and an administrator account costs $100. The software is available now. ®

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