Mirantis Releases Latest OpenStack Distribution With Powerful Plug-In Architecture

Mirantis made generally available on Thursday a new version of its popular OpenStack distribution, one that extends the latest release of the groundbreaking open-source cloud operating system with a number of features, including a powerful installer tool.

Mirantis 6.0 builds off Juno, the tenth and most current version of OpenStack introduced in October. Juno should prove the most stable OpenStack release ever brought to market, Boris Renski, Mirantis' co-founder and CMO, told CRN.

The pure-play OpenStack developer has added powerful functionality to 6.0, including Fuel, an installer that enables third-party infrastructure vendors to build plug-ins exposing their solutions directly to OpenStack users at installation, without the need for drivers.

[Related: Mirantis Chairman: OpenStack Creates Unique Opportunities For The Channel]

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"Anybody downloading can see anyone who built plugs-in and take advantage of their solution right out of the box. This is a big deal for us and important for us -- important because a lot of OpenStack momentum is coming from the vendor ecosystem" developing around the cloud platform, Renski told CRN.

Mirantis, a neighbor of Google in Mountain View, Calif., was born as an OpenStack systems integrator.

Because the company approaches releases in an unorthodox way, withholding the bulk of new features from tech previews, Thursday's general release is the first showcase for Fuel, and much of the advanced functionality introduced with 6.0.

"The tech preview was largely focused on getting people there and getting them to play around with the Juno release of OpenStack and getting us some feedback," Renski said.

Mirantis did get feedback over the last few months, fixed some bugs, and then released the final product with "a bunch of cool features," Renski told CRN. "The coolest one we've been working on for the last 12 months was this notion of a pluggable OpenStack installer," he said.

Fuel's architecture allows infrastructure vendors "to bring the end user a straightforward way to use their solutions with OpenStack," Renski said.

For many of those vendors, their first goal from the partnership is to use the Mirantis product as a channel to bring their own solutions to market. Mirantis has invested so much in the plug-in installer because it makes that channel more effective for those partners, according to Renski.

"It's very important that they have the means to enable the end user to install whatever storage and networking solution they have to use with OpenStack. With this release, we give them the ability to embrace our distribution in a straightforward fashion," Renski told CRN.

Current storage partners that have built drivers for Mirantis' distribution include EMC and NetApp, and networking partners include Juniper, VMware NSX, Midokura, Big Switch and Nuage. Mirantis is now working with those vendors and more than a dozen others to develop plug-ins that will be rolled out onto the market throughout the year, Renski said.

The OpenStack Foundation pioneered a system called DriverLog that tracks all vendors that have built OpenStack drivers. With its new pluggable framework, Mirantis hopes many of those listed in DriverLog will opt to create plug-ins that allow their hardware to be immediately deployed after downloading the distribution, Renski said.

In addition to Fuel, Mirantis OpenStack 6.0 improves interoperability with VMware, and Renski said Mirantis has a large team making sure the distribution is optimized to run on top of a VMware environment. The GA release also adds improvements to the architecture "certifying the downloadable distro to run out of the box on 100 nodes."

OpenStack has been chided in the past for being too focused on the race to add features. Juno, however, was the first release for which the development process focused more on stability, making it well-suited for enterprise workloads, according to Renski.