Ravello promises enterprises cross-Cloud app flexibility

Newly infused with a fresh $28 million in funding, this startup is betting its future on 'nested virtualization' technology.

Part of the reason companies agonize as long and hard as they do over cloud decisions are the potential consequences to be suffered if it later turns out changes need to be made. Write an application and it's good for the particular cloud platform you've chosen; decide to move to a different platform, and you could have a world of pain ahead.

That, in a nutshell, is where Ravello Systems hopes to come in. Offering what it calls "nested virtualization" software, the four-year-old startup aims to allow enterprises to take any application environment -- no matter how complex, and whether it's old or new -- and "spin" it up to any cloud, on demand.

"In the first generation of the cloud, it was mainly cloud providers that told people how the cloud should be consumed," says Benny Schnaider, Ravello's cofounder, chairman and president.

Ravello, on the other hand, is "part of a new, application-centric trend where applications can run on any cloud -- you develop it regardless of where it will run," he explains. "This is a big change in perception."

Ravello announced on Tuesday that it has closed a third round of funding worth $28 million. The company was founded in 2011 by Schnaider along with Rami Tamir -- both serial entrepreneurs and both part of the team, in the form of Qumranet, that created the KVM hypervisor, which continues to offer an open-source alternative to VMware today.

"There are really three islands when it comes to enterprises," says Vab Goel, a general partner with repeat Ravello investor Norwest Venture Partners.

One of those "islands" constitutes companies running a VMware cloud, Goel says; another runs on a public cloud driven by the likes of Amazon. Third are the enterprises that have their own, private clouds.

"The reality is, this is a billions-and-billions-of-dollars market," he notes. "We're talking about a lot of custom apps, lots of new apps -- it's not going to be just about public vs. private cloud, where one cloud company can have 100 percent market share."

In essence, Ravello's value proposition is, "we're going to overlay services so that customers can, with a single click, move workloads from private to public clouds," Goel explains. "That's the disruption. It's not a management tool -- it's a service that runs on top of other clouds."

Of course, every company has competition. In Ravello's case, it may be primarily "enterprises trying to use hundreds of employees to do the customization themselves," Goel quips.

Ravello is "in step with some of the most disruptive trends in the industry today," says Jay Lyman, a senior analyst for enterprise software with 451 Research.

"Its support for mixing newer, agile and DevOps methodologies with legacy and existing infrastructure and process matches the needs of large enterprises that must balance both," Lyman explains.

Ravello's support for public and hybrid clouds, meanwhile, is "timed right," he adds, "as many companies are figuring out how to manage existing, internal public cloud use and so-called 'shadow IT' efforts that bypass or challenge IT departments, but also represent the new way of doing things."

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