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Open Source Cloud Startup Mirantis Continues To See Explosive Growth

In the same way that Linux evolved into a powerful force in the server market, in the rapidly evolving cloud market OpenStack is emerging as the most important open source cloud OS. And within the OpenStack community, Mountain View startup Mirantis has taken a leading role in bringing an open source cloud solution to enterprise IT.

In the same way that Linux evolved into a powerful force in the server market, in the rapidly evolving cloud market OpenStack is emerging as the most important open source cloud OS. And within the OpenStack community, Mountain View startup Mirantis has taken a leading role in bringing an open source cloud solution to enterprise IT.

We originally profiled Mirantis in the middle of 2013, and since that time they have seen massive growth. Mirantis recently raised a massive $100 million Series B and has continued to see explosive growth in customer acquisition. Mirantis has also just recently come out with a very interesting new product which could be best described as an “on-demand private Cloud-as-a-Service for enterprises”. The new web service enables companies to stand up private clouds and make them available to developers and end users in minutes. 

Joining us to discuss more about Mirantis’ latest product, how it plans to deploy its newly raised capital and the general state of the OpenStack OS and the cloud market is Mirantis’ Head of Products and Marketing Dave Van Everen.

IT Specialist Thank you for joining us Dave. To begin with, when did Mirantis come out with this private cloud product?

Dave MirantisOpenStack Express was launched in early June, 2014 after an eight-week beta test with customers like Alcatel-Lucent, General Electric, Liberty Mutual, McAfee, Symantec and Sprint.

ITSpecialist: What is MirantisOpenStack Express?

Dave MirantisOpenStack Express offers a pure-play OpenStack hosted cloud, offering customers unique value in software, hardware, control, and agility (451 Research has called it “An idealized hosted private cloud”.

Express runs on network-isolated collections of customer-dedicated, bare-metal servers, located in multiple datacenters around the world. That means customers can locate their clouds (and storage) according to their business and performance needs, and any customer can scale their server-count up or down -- in minutes for small counts, hours for larger counts -- from a minimum of two to 50 servers or more.

Express is made available to customers at several cost tiers, with ascending capacity, customizability and support. Team Edition provides a bare-metal, customer-redeployableOpenStack cloud on two optimized servers, appropriate for a distributed development team and scalable by adding compute nodes. Enterprise Edition offers a larger-capacity cloud with fully-customizable hardware.

Our “introductory offer” -- MirantisOpenStack Express Developer Edition -- is a private OpenStack tenant on a bare metal shared cloud, ideal for solo developers experimenting with DevOps or learning OpenStack APIs, and with adjustable vCPU, RAM and HDD quotas. Developer Edition, with the standard quota settings, is free for the first year of use.

Regardless of edition, Express provides the most robust, most open, and closest-to-Community version of OpenStack (MirantisOpenStack). It’s managed by Fuel, a web-based management GUI that lets you configure and auto-deploy new OpenStack clouds/clusters onto your dedicated servers (again, literally in minutes). Fuel lets you deploy OpenStack in a wide range of stable, tested reference configurations, with or without High Availability, and with your choice of networking models, hypervisors (KVM, QEMU), storage solutions (e.g., Swift, Ceph, etc.), special projects (Murano application catalog, Sahara Hadoop-as-a-Service), management tools (Ceilometer instrumentation, Zabbix monitoring) and other add-ons.

The combo gives customers ‘instant, pure OpenStack’ with ‘private cloud’ predictable performance, security, and deep control (including root access to OpenStack component nodes) plus tools that let you customize, deploy and scale rapidly and confidently -- all in a pay-as-you-go framework with no long-term commitments. Below is a screenshot of the dashboard:

IT Specialist I've noticed a trend in the market - and certainly in the tech media - regarding private clouds beginning to become more prevalent as a solution. Is this an accurate statement, and if yes, what do you think is driving the developing popularity of a private cloud?

Dave To us, a ‘private cloud’ is a cloud that you control. In one sense, that means a cloud that’s not shared with other tenants, so you can have predictable performance and security. In another sense, it means a cloud solution that empowers self-determination by being non-proprietary -- sticking very close to open source community trunk, and thus avoiding locking-in customers and limiting their ability to innovate and arbitrage costs.

We’ve actually done that with Express -- made it possible to have a private cloud with the pay-as-you-go, CapEx vs. OpEx benefits of hosting. So in fact, users can have the choice between hosting a private cloud at their premise, using MirantisOpenStack, or “in the cloud,” with Express, and can be using the same technology and operating under the same expectations for performance, security, and ability to customize.

So to us, the emphasis on “private cloud” translates to an accelerating movement away from both ‘public cloud’ and proprietary cloud solutions (both premise and hosted), and towards a range of new solutions (again, both premise and hosted) that map better to emerging customer requirements for self-determination/control, agility, and cost-efficiency.

IT Specialist Is this private cloud completely behind the firewall? And if so, what role does Mirantis play in managing this?

Dave MirantisOpenStack Express data centers run on customer-dedicated hardware, hooked to private physical and/or logical networks with guaranteed capacity. So they’re pretty much as private as a datacenter you might build on your premise. But they live wherever you want them to: at any of a range of global datacenters. Mirantis provides several tiers of support, up to 24/7, with guaranteed response-time SLAs. Our operators have full remote control of the service’s hosted infrastructure and share management and service-level operations duties with our infrastructure partner, IBM SoftLayer. Mirantis also provides a full menu of operations and management services to our Express customers.

MirantisOpenStack Express cloud lives behind industrial-grade network and top-of-rack router/gateways and firewalls, and you manage them via secure/encrypted internet connections (https, ssh/scp, etc.).

In deploying clusters, you can choose from among a broad set of networking models (e.g., ‘Flat DHCP,’ Neutron SDN networking with VLANs or GRE tunneling, etc.) and have full control of IP address assignment, VLAN labeling and other details. Within your clusters, you can create new networks, subnets, routers, and complex, fine-tuned Ingress and Egress policies on a Project basis, so you have enormous flexibility. And MirantisOpenStack Express includes a Neutron networking facility that lets you quickly create IPSec VPNs on demand to connect Projects across multiple OpenStack clouds, including premise OpenStack clouds -- powering “hybrid cloud” use-cases.

So in fact, if you want, you can set things up with VPNaaS so that your Express cloud is “behind your corporate firewall” in a logical sense -- with your OpenStack VMs and your premise machines on VLANs that map across a VPN tunnel. And there are interesting hybrid cloud applications that use exactly this kind of architecture. 

IT Specialist How easy would it be for an existing Mirantis public cloud customer to move to a private cloud, i.e. how hard would this be for an IT pro to manage this? Also, could a public cloud customer on AWS, for example, also move to a Mirantis private cloud?

Dave To be clear: MirantisOpenStack Express isn’t a ‘public cloud,’ except in the limited sense that it doesn’t live on your premise. It’s more like a private OpenStack cloud that has some clever behind-the-scenes software and networking adaptations that let you add and remove servers quickly. And Express customers will be able to keep their Express Icehouse-generation clouds alive and manage them as Express itself advances to OpenStack Kilo and beyond. I mention this, because portability/migratability of OpenStack assets is historically somewhat version-bound -- although tools like Pumphouse are gradually making this less of an issue.

If you had workloads running on MirantisOpenStack Express, and had a matching OpenStack cloud running on your premise data center (the optimal solution, today, would be to deploy a MirantisOpenStack 6.0 cloud with Fuel), an IT person familiar with OpenStack would be able to extract workload snapshots, volume snapshots, component images, contents of object storage, etc., from Express, and port them directly into your premise OpenStack cloud.

If your premise cloud were a later version of OpenStack than the version you were running on Express, you would be able to use Pumphouse, which is an open source tool now being incubated by MirantisLabs, designed to facilitate migration of workloads between different OpenStack versions (and also allow upgrade-in-place of OpenStack clouds).

If you’re talking about migrating from MirantisOpenStack Express to a VMware or other non-OpenStack cloud, that should also be possible in some cases, using the cloud provider’s tools.

IT Specialist More broadly speaking, in the last 15 months since I originally interviewed Mirantis, how much traction has OpenStack gained in the market? And, does Mirantis continue to play a central role in the development of OpenStack?

Dave The OpenStackuserbase keeps growing, and this trend will continue. Most players in the OpenStack space are increasing investment in OpenStack products and services, and in headcount devoted to OpenStack development. The largest incumbent proprietary cloud provider, VMware, has recently announced their intention to provide an OpenStack distribution. HP, another huge OpenStack player, has purchased and added Eucalyptus to its portfolio. All the largest companies involved in OpenStack, save perhaps for RackSpace, have increased the scale and scope of their investments and commitments. Over the past 18 months, a host of OpenStack-based private cloud services have come onto the market from big vendors.

Meanwhile, the OpenStack customer space is expanding: global carriers, for example, have started making major commitments to OpenStack around Network Functions Virtualization, and Mirantis is playing a key role in serving the needs of that market.

More and more infrastructure vendors are creating drivers for OpenStack. This year, we’re seeing growth in all divisions: building more clouds than ever, training more OpenStack admins than ever. Below are some of the apps that can run:

 

IT Specialist Finally, at the corporate level, how is Mirantis as a company performing overall - is there any other additional news you'd like to share? For example, any news about revenue growth, additional money raised, major partnerships etc.

Dave Mirantis raised a $100 million Series B round in 2014, right as we saw a number of acquisitions in the ecosystem, and it has catapulted us into a leadership position in the OpenStack community. We now have technology, customer traction and community influence to help OpenStack become the best platform for building cloud-native web applications.

For example, in 2014, Mirantis was the largest provider of OpenStack services to the telecommunications industry, with customer wins including Ericsson, Orange, Pacnet, Huawai, Tata Communications and more.

Mirantis was also a top 3 contributor to the Juno release of OpenStack (see http://www.stackalytics.com) and continues to incubate new projects like Pumphouse, and provide guidance and ongoing contributions to projects like Sahara (now an OpenStack project) and Murano.

Meanwhile, our team is expanding. In the past year, we opened offices in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Grenoble.

IT Specialist Last year, Mirantis raised a huge $100 million dollar round. Can you highlight who were the core investors for this round and what does Mirantis plan to use the money for? Is there an IPO in your future?

Dave Insight Venture Partners led our Series B, and was joined by August Capital, as well as existing investors Intel Capital, WestSummit Capital, Ericsson, and Sapphire Ventures (formerly SAP Ventures). We're thrilled to have Insight and August on board - they are two of the most successful firms in the business with portfolios that include Twitter, Sun, Skype, New Relic and Splunk, among many others.

Our priorities are our product, customers and the OpenStack community. We plan to double our engineering team, with a focus on developing MirantisOpenStack and Express, contributing upstream to OpenStack, and offering world-class technical support to our customers. We also plan to expand internationally and build our partner ecosystem.

IT Specialist Thank you for your time Dave, and best of luck going forward.

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