Mirantis Buys Czech Startup to Advance Container Ambitions

Mitch Wagner
9/15/2016

Mirantis said Thursday it will buy TCP Cloud, a specialist in providing managed services in OpenStack, OpenContrail and Kubernetes. The acquisition skips Mirantis ahead nine months in its plan to go beyond OpenStack to providing managed services for a full suite of open source infrastructure software, Alex Freedland, co-founder and CEO, tells Light Reading.

Freedland compares Mirantis Inc. 's current and historical focus on OpenStack with Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN)'s initial focus on selling books. From the beginning, Amazon's goal was to be a retailer delivering any product over the Internet, with books as its first product because books were relatively easy to package, store and ship.

Amazon later focused on cloud in the same way, taking technology bits from open source ecosystems, packaging them and delivering them to customers on a managed basis with APIs, Freedland said.

Amazon has a vast global network of data centers to serve the Amazon Web Services Inc. business model. But the data centers aren't the core value. "The data center and itself and the bits are not really important. The delivery model is. To deliver a managed set of bits is the value," Freedland said.

And that's the business Mirantis wants to get into. "We have the bits as well, the large ecosystem," Freedland said. In addition to OpenStack, Mirantis specializes in OpenContrail, the SDN controller developed by Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), as well as Kubernetes. (See Mirantis Charts Course Far Beyond OpenStack.)

Kubernetes support was part of a recent deal with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC). (See Mirantis: 'We'll Probably Piss Off' OpenStack.)

Despite Google's vast resources, it's like the much smaller Mirantis in that both companies are upstarts challenging the Amazon Web Services Inc. incumbent. (See Why the Evernote Elephant Packed Its Trunk for Google Cloud.)

"Our endgame is to become a full service deliverer of infrastructure innovation -- everything underneath custom applications," Freedland said. "Applications will always be bespoke. But infrastructure will commoditize to open source."

Like AWS, Mirantis will provide that infrastructure. But unlike AWS, Mirantis won't be tied to its own data centers. Mirantis will work with third-party data centers, the customer's own data center or Amazon.

TCP Cloud, headquartered in Prague in the Czech Republic, employs 30 and specializes in managed services for OpenStack, OpenContrail and Kubernetes. The acquisition will support Mirantis's initiative with Google and Intel to allow Mirantis to continuously deliver OpenStack to customer data centers. Mirantis needed to develop those capabilities, which Freedland says would have taken nine months. Now, Mirantis expects to be able to deliver the capability in beta by the end of the year, and general availability in the first quarter.

The TCP Cloud technology will provide continuous upgrades of OpenStack -- or any open source infrastructure software, Mirantis says. Mirantis will integrate TP Cloud's MK.20 technology with Mirantis OpenStack. TCP Cloud's 30 employees will stay on at Mirantis, which is sending its vice president of technology to Prague to run the business. The role of TCP Cloud's current CEO is being finalized, but he will likely stay on in a senior product management and customer-facing capacity.


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Mirantis faces tough competition in its ambitions. It will be up against the "old guard," including VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise , as well as Rackspace , Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) Metapod and IBM Bluemix, Freedland says.

Freedland sees Rackspace as Mirantis's toughest competitor, with a similar business model of running workloads in public, private or hybrid clouds, as well as Mirantis's own OpenStack data center. But Freedland acknowledges that Rackspace will be "slightly confused" for the next 18 months, as it navigates going private through a $4.3 billion deal with potential buyer Apollo Global Management. (See Rackspace Sale Speeds Pivot to Cloud Support.)

Cisco's direction is also "correct," but tied with Cisco gear, Freedland says.

AWS differentiates on breadth of services, he says.

And "IBM doesn't need to differentiate. They're IBM," Freedland says.

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

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