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Mirantis Charts Course Far Beyond OpenStack

Mitch Wagner

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- A recent agreement around Kubernetes and OpenStack lays the foundation to change Mirantis's direction in a big way, CEO and co-founder Alex Freedland tells Light Reading.

Mirantis Inc. announced a plan late last month to rearchitect OpenStack to run on Kubernetes, in conjunction with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC). Mirantis is looking to solve the problem of maintaining and upgrading OpenStack after installation, as well as making OpenStack workloads easily portable between private and Google clouds. (See Mirantis: 'We'll Probably Piss Off' OpenStack.)

The Kubernetes support for OpenStack allows Mirantis to deliver more than just OpenStack, Freedland said in a hallway conversation with Light Reading at OpenStack Days Silicon Valley 2016 this week. Kubernetes will help Mirantis deliver any service, not just OpenStack.

Freedland compared the Mirantis business model to how Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) got its start in retail. The online merchant launched in 1995 selling books. Selling books would allow Amazon to learn the business of selling other merchandise online. Books are inexpensive, easy to store and ship, they're available in a variety of titles and demand is worldwide. Once Amazon learned to sell books successfully, it could move on to other things.

Similarly, now that Mirantis can deliver OpenStack, it can move on to other services. Freedland's exact word was that Mirantis will deliver "innovation" to its customers. OpenStack, VMware and other cutting-edge technology today will be obsolete soon, but the ability to deliver services (or "innovation") will always be in demand, Freedland said.

Kubernetes will enable Mirantis to deliver services by encapsulating services in containers, Freedland said.

And what kind of services will Mirantis deliver? Could be anything. Freedland cited Ceph, AI and machine learning as examples.

"I don't have to worry about being commoditized," Freedland said. "We believe in the world of the future, which is outcome-based. There will be no differentiation on technology. Everything will be open and popular."

He added, "The differentiator will be delivering innovation."

But Mirantis isn't abandoning OpenStack -- far from it, Freedland said. In order to be trusted to deliver anything else, a company needs to excel at its core business, and for Mirantis, that's OpenSack. OpenStack is to Mirantis as books are to Amazon, he said.

"If we can be the delivery agent of change, it gives me a fighting chance," Freedland said.

Freedland's statement of direction for Mirantis doesn't come from out of nowhere. The Mirantis CEO directed Light Reading to a June blog post by Boris Renski, Mirantis co-founder and CMO, titled "Infrastructure Software Is Dead."

Renski says companies face a limited future if their business is selling licenses or subscriptions to infrastructure software.

Mirantis was late to OpenStack and faces stiff competition, but succeeds nonetheless, Renski noted. That's not because Mirantis's OpenStack is better than its competition. "Everybody's OpenStack software is equally bad," Renski said. "It's also as bad as all the other infrastructure software out there – software-defined networking, software-defined storage, cloud management platforms, platforms-as-service, container orchestrators, you name it. It's all full of bugs, hard to upgrade and a nightmare to operate. It's all bad."

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He adds, "But none of this matters, because today customers don't care about software. Customers care about outcomes. And the reason Mirantis has been successful is because, despite ourselves, outcomes are what we've been able to deliver to our customers by complementing crappy OpenStack software with hordes of talented infrastructure hackers that made up for the gaps. We didn't win because of the software. We won because we've been shouldering the pain associated with turning OpenStack software into customer outcomes."

Says Renski, "At Mirantis we entered the market with a services-first approach, focused on helping customers build and operate OpenStack before ever releasing an OpenStack software distribution."

And that's a model that Mirantis plans to take to a broad array of services in the future, Freedland says.

Related posts:

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

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