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Is this startup better than AWS for grassroots developers?

Qumulus wants to spark a private cloud revolution

Hello there,

Can a new startup change the habits of grassroots developers who currently default to spinning up resources on AWS every time they begin a new project?

Qumulus is about to find out. Scroll down to find out all about them.

– Martin

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Can Qumulus transform the cloud habits of grassroots developers?

If you’re launching a software startup or beginning a development project these days, there’s a good chance you’ll kick off by renting some space from a public cloud provider like Amazon’s AWS or Microsoft’s Azure.

But as accessible as that is, the pricing structure means you have to be very careful what you do and how you do it, lest you find yourself with a painful bill to pay at a point where you probably don’t have a lot of cash available.

To solve this problem, a startup called Qumulus is taking inspiration from the past.

“I come from before the cloud era,” says founder Daniel Niasoff

“Before the cloud era, we used to buy servers and wire them into data centres or into our office. We never had to pay for every single thing that we did. And what cloud has introduced is metering for every little step that you take and that comes with its own stresses. It also works out extremely expensive for certain use cases.” 

Niasoff believes this complexity and cost limits freedom to experiment and innovate.

“You make one small mistake and you suddenly get a bill. Cloud is also, by its very nature, very slow because it's a very distributed platform. 

“I always hankered towards the past, where we just bought our resources upfront. We paid for them and then we had the freedom to operate without the tension of managing costs. And what we're trying to do is bring that back.”

How it works

Qumulus is pitched as “your own managed private cloud—without the headaches”. 

What this means in practice is access to a private server provided by a third-party (customers can provide their own server if they prefer), running the open source OpenStack software, and with Qumulus’ own software sitting on top. 

“We're customising and orchestrating the deployment and management of the cloud, and we have tools that monitor it as well,” explains Niasoff.

He says this can provide significant savings on cloud bills; as much as five times cheaper in some cases.

Qumulus charges a fixed monthly fee, rather than complex and difficult to manage event-based billing.

And the startup also touts significant speed improvements over public cloud

Essentially, it looks like a private cloud offering but without the significant upfront cost and hassle that can come with.

“What we're trying to do is commoditise private cloud by automating it, keeping it really simple, and offering it on a subscription basis, similar to public cloud,” says Niasoff.

“So we're taking a look at the playbook of public cloud subscription–no upfront fee, it's instant, and you don’t have to manage it–and we're trying to apply that to private cloud.”

Who is this for?

The market Qumulus is particularly targeting here is development teams that need a sandbox staging environment for experimentation, but don’t need the global availability of public cloud and don’t want to deal with managing their costs.

“You just want to give your developer the freedom just to play around without having to worry about making one mistake and getting hit with a big bill,” says Niasoff.

“We're targeting the grassroots, to give them freedom, which they don't currently have, at a really low cost where it's a no brainer. They can still utilise public cloud for some of their operations, for their production environment or certain features. However, their go-to playground would be the private cloud.”

The story so far

Manchester-based Niasoff has been working in the tech infrastructure space since the turn of the century, including several years in cloud-related roles and consulting for startups.

“In a previous startup, we used OpenStack as a private cloud. We did it very early on, before public cloud was a thing. And then eventually, because it was taking too much time to maintain, we had to move away,” he says.

“And because we've moved away we lost a lot of the benefits. And that made me realise that if we can find a way to package private cloud, it would solve a lot of problems. It made me realise that there's an opportunity here.”

Niasoff began Qumulus in 2022, and he says the startup is now a team of five. It has just launched its beta product this week.

Go deeper on Qumulus

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