Surgient has been one of the first startups to build value on top of virtual infrastructures in the early days of hardware virtualization, well before VMware led the technology to mainstream adoption.
Compared to its competitors, for a long time Surgient offered a hosted virtual lab automation platform.
Only in September 2008 it extended its business model, allowing customers to install the product on-premises.
That first change in strategy possibly depended on the limited interest that the market demonstrated so far in virtual lab automation solutions, despite Surgient has to compete with a really low number of vendors.
The fact that VMware is among those competitors doesn’t help: another company in this space, StackSafe, disappeared leaving no traces in March 2009 after just 15 months of activity.
Nonetheless Surgient managed to raise a revenue of $1 million per month in 2007 and was fortunate enough to raise a new round funding for $4.3M in August 2009.
The radical change of direction we are seeing today maybe has its roots in late 2008 when the company launched Virtual Automation Platform (VAP) 6.0, removing specific references to virtual lab automation and featuring a new policy-drive self-service portal that can be used for any sort of virtual machines lifecycle management activity.
Surgient even registered some patents to protect this new part of its platform.
Fast forward to 2010, the company launches a service to build an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) private cloud in less than 30 days for the discounted price of $50,000.
The offering doesn’t say that this private cloud is for virtual lab automation (because it isn’t) and doesn’t even mention which hypervisor will be used (Surgient supports both VMware vSphere 4.0 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V).
The only explicit detail is that their Cloud Express includes 30 managed CPUs.
Implementing a private cloud infrastructure at that price is challenging for anybody. As virtualization.info detailed in one of the first posts of 2010, the whole idea of cloud computing implies not just automation, where Surgient has expertise, but also service level agreements, chargeback, strong security and interoperability.
It must be seen how the company has been able to pack multiple products together to provide all of these capabilities and deliver something that can be really called cloud.
This post will be updated as soon as we’ll have more information.