Mirantis Opens Latest OpenStack Distribution For Technical Preview

Mirantis, a company vying to be the world's preeminent OpenStack developer, has released for technical preview its latest distribution of the open-source cloud operating system that many expect to revolutionize the IaaS landscape.

Mirantis OpenStack 6.0 extends Juno, the 10th release of OpenStack, a technology originally developed through a partnership between Rackspace and NASA.

Once in general release a few months from now, 6.0 will offer an enterprise-grade OpenStack distribution that is flexible and accessible to businesses and comes free of vendor lock-in, CEO Adrian Ionel told CRN.

[ Related: Mirantis Takes On Red Hat, Canonical And HP With Its Own OpenStack Distribution]

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"This is what we do. We've been at it longer than anyone else. We have scale. When you put it all together, when it comes to succeeding with OpenStack, Mirantis is a very good place to start your journey," Ionel said.

Mirantis, based in Mountain View, Calif., only a few years ago was a systems integrator building clouds for big business clients. Under Ionel's leadership, the company leveraged its OpenStack expertise to develop a unique distribution, one focused on solving ease-of-use obstacles associated with the powerful open-source platform that is notoriously difficult to deploy, manage and upgrade. That background is the underpinning of the unique value proposition Mirantis offers customers, Ionel told CRN.

Mirantis released its first OpenStack control plane in April 2013 and followed that October with a full enterprise-grade distribution. The company has won major enterprise clients since then.

Venerable venture capital firms, including Intel Capital, Insight Venture Capital and August Capital, are betting on Mirantis, all having recently contributed to a $100 million Series B funding round. Beyond the cash, "the quality of partners we brought on board is terrific. We're really thrilled," Ionel said of the investors.

OpenStack has been hailed as the future of cloud infrastructure software, and Mirantis' growth and success is testament to the industry's confidence that the open-source software will pose an increasingly greater challenge to proprietary cloud vendors like Amazon Web Services by offering a no lock-in alternative.

But Ionel told CRN that he sees many OpenStack players taking "a closed approach" that focuses development on proprietary add-ons for specific verticals.

"We believe people are adopting OpenStack for exactly the opposite reason," Ionel said.

Mirantis is focusing on differentiating its version of OpenStack in three ways.

The first is making the IaaS solution easier to install. That's "something we tackled first long before anyone else. It’s a 30-minute complete point-and-click exercise," Ionel said.

The second is by offering a highly available architecture, with every version building a distribution that's more resilient from the top down.

"That’s hugely important for the enterprise. You adopt OpenStack to run it on inexpensive hardware that will break. So you need the resilience in the software. The software provides stability," Ionel said.

The third and final differentiator is a commitment to openness, "which is fundamentally the value proposition of OpenStack itself. You buy OpenStack and deploy OpenStack to have an open fabric," Ionel told CRN.

Mirantis supports multiple operating systems and hypervisors, and offers native integration with a number of vendor partners, from VMware and KVM to Juniper and Cisco.

The vision Ionel described is for OpenStack to become to the data center what Google's Android operating system is to mobile devices.

Most sales are still direct because that strategy is favorable for early adoption with advanced technologies, he said, adding now that OpenStack is becoming more common and "the role of partners is now increasing."

Once a system integrator itself, Mirantis now partners with a growing base of solution providers, and the company's "channel strategy is adapting as the technology becomes more mature and the brand becomes more established," Ionel told CRN.

"Now that companies themselves are asking for OpenStack, the resellers are starting to play a more important role," he said, adding some of the funding just raised is earmarked to build a stronger partner ecosystem.