A group of ex-VMware engineers have today launched Platform9 – a product and company which fulfils their long-standing vision of building an AWS-like SaaS platform that allows customers to transform existing servers into an “agile, self-service private cloud.”

Platform9 has been completely backed by Redpoint Ventures, which has invested $4.5mn in Series A funding into the cloud project. The product will be released into Beta later this week, and is expected to be officially showcased at the VMware Conference, in San Francisco at the end of the month.

Co-founder and CEO at Platform9, Sirish Raghuram told TechCrunch that the product had been in the pipeline for some time, but design and development only began in October of last year.

The concept came about as the team of VMware veterans looked to create a private cloud system which would be as flexible and as easy to use as public cloud infrastructure, like AWS. The engineers identified the common issue of companies becoming impatient and frustrated with IT service providers, and arranging instead for a public cloud solution.

Platform9 claims to reverse this trend by providing an ‘agile’ private cloud, with intelligent cloud-based management, compatible with any virtualisation infrastructure – KVM currently, and Docker and VMware vSphere shortly – and a 100 percent OpenStack offering.

“Platform9’s big innovation is that it brings the best of the public cloud to our existing infrastructure,” said Gopal Koratana, CTO of Vendormate, who serves 2,000 healthcare providers and 68,000 vendor companies.

According Madhura Maskasky, co-founder and head of product, customers can sign up for the cloud service online and download an ‘agent’ which runs on each server. On signing up, Platform9 creates a dedicated instance of the software running OpenStack, specific to the company, she expalined. Maskasky also stressed, therefore, that Platform9 does not put a company’s data centre information in a shared environment.

The downloaded ‘agent’ then analyses the network infrastructure and reports back with available resources from the server to the cloud platform. When this analysis and feedback is complete, the customer is able to access a dashboard of available resource options, across a range of data centres and geographical locations.

With this tool a user can then browse through the resource allocation pool, create templates and build access to various services. Platform9 suggested for example, if a user wishes to access an Apache webserver, they could download a configured instance and gain immediate access, similar to a public cloud service.

“We believe that just like SaaS revolutionised the world of enterprise applications, it can do the same for enterprise data centres. You can think of us as the Salesforce.com of private cloud management. Our customers come to our web site, sign up and transform their existing infrastructure into a private cloud within minutes. From there on, they can focus on using their infrastructure rather than babysitting the management software,” said CEO Raghuram.

He sees AWS as his company’s main rival. Although Raghuram accepts that the public cloud model has made it easier for companies to manage resources, he believes Platform9’s functionality will place the service first for those looking for a private cloud solution.

Others, however, are more sceptical; “Platform9 might have been totally cool in 2011, but today it just feels like one of many,” wrote Forbes’ Ben Kepes.