OnApp offers one UI to manage virtual, bare-metal and “smart” servers

London-based OnApp has finally released version 3.1 of its software, which aims to help hosts and telcos get into the infrastructure-as-a-service business. Originally due in the summer, v3.1 of the platform is notable for the breadth of control offered through one interface.

Specifically, that unified drag-and-drop interface can now manage cloud infrastructure, dedicated servers, VPS, CDN, DNS, storage, load balancers, autoscaling and templates. In addition to its traditional virtual server territory, OnApp now also offers automation for bare metal servers (for particularly demanding applications) and what the firm calls “smart servers” – dedicated servers that offer a cloud server’s failover, scaling and provisioning benefits through the use of a thin KVM virtualization layer with hardware passthrough.

The new version also brings in VMware(s vmw) blueprints for deploying pre-defined clusters, and Chef-style “recipes” for automating workflows. Service providers can now also manage CDN edge servers in multiple locations in a unified fashion, through a new location groups feature.

OnApp CEO Ditlev Bredahl, who is a 15-year veteran of the hosting business, told me quite excitedly that this – “version 3.1, but to me it’s really 1.0” – was the platform he would have liked to have when running host group UK2.

“It’s really on-demand access to everything you have in your data center,” Bredahl (pictured above, in the center) enthused. “We’ve created this abstraction layer between the workload sitting in your infrastructure, and the infrastructure serving your workloads … Suddenly this notion of workloads being designed for or tied to infrastructure will just disappear.”

It strikes me that this one-panel-to-rule-them-all approach might have applicability beyond OnApp’s service provider audience, perhaps in the enterprise, but Bredahl claims he isn’t interested. “It has to do with our DNA rather than the product’s DNA,” he argued. “If you had to put me in front of the CIO of General Motors(s gm) I don’t know what he’s concerned about. We’ve had systems integrators come to us in the past and say this is what people need.”

“In the service provider market, so far we’re the biggest player. We feel better sticking to where we know how to solve problems, rather than divert into traditional VMware territory. When OpenStack, CloudStack et cetera tried to get into the service provider market, they figured out how hard it was to penetrate. That’s why we have 20 times the number of installs as the number 2, CloudStack. Within the little service provider niche there are only 4,000-5,000 deployments of public cloud, and we sit on more than 2,000.”

In a sense, it seems OnApp is now thinking post-cloud. Suggesting that the whole retail infrastructure market is worth around $60 billion but (proper) cloud itself only $4 billion, Bredahl said service providers need to look past “deploying as cloud silos.”

“We’ve extended from being a cloud business to on-demand infrastructure,” he said. “We give them access to the whole thing.”

Speaking of those other platforms, it sounds like OnApp might soon follow local rival Flexiant into embracing the OpenStack cloud (and others). Bredahl hinted that the next release would “bring in third-party providers” under the unified UI’s management capabilities, so service providers can “deploy on all platforms and move workloads around … like RightScale should have been.” Them’s fighting words.