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Mirantis Pivots as OpenStack Loses 'Wow Factor'

Mitch Wagner

With OpenStack losing momentum, that's a problem for Mirantis, which bills itself as "the pure-play OpenStack company."

Or that's how it billed itself until recently. Now, it's "the pure-play open cloud company," and it's branching out to support OpenStack rival technology Kubernetes.

But more than a new product direction, Mirantis Inc. is supporting a new business model: providing professional services and software, including OpenStack and Kubernetes, for enterprises moving to the cloud. (See Mirantis Charts Course Far Beyond OpenStack and Mirantis: 'We'll Probably Piss Off' OpenStack.)

Mirantis Inc. this week launched Mirantis Cloud Platform, providing a single platform for virtual machines using OpenStack, containers using Kubernetes, and bare metal, delivered and monitored continuously. Mirantis adds a Kubernetes distribution to its existing OpenStack distro. Mirantis introduced the DriveTrain lifecycle management service for OpenStack, Kubernetes and other services yet to come. And StackLight monitors the software stack for monitoring service level agreements.

Rather than updating every six to 12 months, as is traditional with enterprise software, Mirantis Cloud Platform updates in minor increments weekly, according to a company statement.

Not That Kind of Platform
Photo by Swinsto101 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Swinsto101 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

The industry is "in the middle of a transition phase," Boris Renski, Mirantis co-founder and CMO, tells Enterprise Cloud News. Relational databases and other applications are designed to run on bare metal and virtual machines. Emerging cloud-native apps are exclusively container centric, but they need to talk with databases and other VM apps in a mixed environment. Mirantis Cloud Platform allows enterprises to combine their VM and container operations teams, Renski says.

"Instead of having two operations teams, one that knows how to do containers and Kubernetes and the other having to do VMs and OpenStack, you can have one do both," he says.

"You can optimize the most expensive resource in the data center -- the operations team," Renski adds.

Mirantis is moving away from a subscription model for software to what it's calling a "build-operate-transfer delivery model," where Mirantis builds a cloud platform for customers, and operates it at least 12 months with up to four-nines of reliability before handing the platform off to the company team, if desired. "The delivery model ensures that not just the software, but also the customers' team and process are aligned with DevOps best practices," Mirantis says.

"Unlike any other solution in the industry, customers onboarded to MCP have an option to completely transfer the platform under their own management," Mirantis says. "Everything in MCP is based on popular open standards with no lock-in, making it possible for customers to break ties with Mirantis and run the platform independently should they choose to do so."

While Mirantis continues to support OpenStack through MCP, it's end-of-lifing Mirantis OpenStack and Fuel by September 2019.

The transition puts Mirantis in competition with some big guns, including Red Hat Inc. and VMware Inc., which offer cloud infrastructure software. It even puts Mirantis in competition with cloud operators like Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), by providing an alternative to running cloud applications.

OpenStack has been taking hits lately. This week, Intel Corp. withdrew financial support for the OpenStack Innovation Center project, which it started with Rackspace in 2015. Last year, Hewlett Packard Enterprise sold its OpenStack assets to SUSE -- though HPE said it continues to support OpenStack and SUSE is expanding its OpenStack commitment. Cisco shut down its Intercloud platform that connected enterprises to multiple cloud providers, which was based on OpenStack. (See Intel Pulls Funding From OpenStack Development Group, HPE: We're Not Dumping OpenStack & Cloud Foundry , SUSE Getting Into Platforms, Cisco Shutting Intercloud Multi-Cloud Platform, )

VMware CTO for cloud and networking Guideo Appenzeller told Enterprise Cloud News he sees limited demand for OpenStack, as enterprises find it too difficult to implement -- though OpenStack continues to have support from service providers. (See VMware Damns OpenStack With Faint Praise.)

Rackspace, however, calls reports of OpenStack's death "#FakeNews," and says enterprises continue to get value from OpenStack if they're willing to put in the work to get it running. (See Rackspace: OpenStack's Death Is #FakeNews.)

Can Google make the grade as an enterprise cloud provider? Find out on our special report: Google's Big Enterprise Cloud Bet.

OpenStack is "absolutely not cool anymore. There is no argument about that. It's not the popular kid on the block like it used to be Kubernetes is the new cool thing," Renski says.

Service providers, who are basically in the business of selling their infrastructure, still find value in OpenStack. But enterprises, for whom running infrastructure is a means to the end of their main business, tried and failed to implement OpenStack. Those enterprises are instead going to a cloud-agnostic, infrastructure-agnostic platform using Kubernetes, containers and going to the public cloud.

But Renski, like Rackspace, emphasized that OpenStack is still valuable used in the right places. "You have to differentiate between the popularity and wow factor, which is a moving target, and the usefulness of something," Renski says. Service providers are finding OpenStack quite useful. "It's going to be there to stay," Renski said.

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— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Friend me on Facebook Editor, Enterprise Cloud News

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