Mirantis' Founding CEO, Adrian Ionel, Returns To Lead The Open Cloud Company


Adrian Ionel, the first CEO of Mirantis, has returned to again lead the pioneering OpenStack vendor as it transforms itself to embrace a broader multi-cloud strategy.

Ionel, who left the Sunnyvale, Calif.-headquartered company in October 2015 to found a startup called Dorsal, returned to the company as CEO in December.

"I never truly disconnected from Mirantis," he told CRN. As a large shareholder, for more than a year he had been holding regular meetings with his former partners, including then-CEO Alex Freedland.

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Freedland, who replaced Ionel after his first tenure as CEO, has since left Mirantis, but remains on the board of directors, where Ionel is now chairman.

Ionel told CRN he wants to build off some major accomplishments at Mirantis over the last 18 months.

"We've taken a bunch of customers to enormous scale," he said.

Those include AT&T, which recently crossed the threshold of hosting 10,000 physical servers, in more than 70 data centers, running Mirantis OpenStack.

Vodafone is another large telecom account, as is Reliance Jio, a mobile operator in India.

Those customers illustrate that OpenStack has found a niche in the market, even as the irrational exuberance that characterized the technology in its early days has largely subsided.

"While the hype around OpenStack has disappeared, actually OpenStack has very much found its place in the world, and for those customers who need it, we are the best possible partner," Ionel told CRN.

There's a large opportunity with OpenStack over the next five to 10 years, he said, in helping customers committed to building and scaling their own infrastructure.

Ionel comes back to Mirantis as the company, having accepted some of the challenges that slowed OpenStack adoption, especially complexity around deployment and management, is transforming to an "open cloud company" – one that is not shying away from a hybrid posture.

Mirantis is betting on a multi-cloud world, as evidenced by an alliance it recently forged with Amazon Web Services, its first with a public cloud provider.

"The vast majority of enterprises around the world will consume public clouds, and in the consumption of those public clouds take a multi-cloud strategy," Ionel said.

Mirantis looks to help those enterprises run apps on those clouds by leveraging its open source components to enable flexible, rapid software delivery with no lock-in.

Kubernetes, the technology developed and later open sourced by Google, is very much at the center of the partnership with Amazon, and the larger strategy.

"Kubernetes enables the orchestration of containers, so it’s a foundational layer for us," Ionel said.

But other open technologies are also important in driving Mirantis business, such as Spinnaker, a continuous delivery platform for releasing software across clouds.

"What you'll see the Mirantis Cloud Platform evolve to is a multi-cloud application delivery platform rather than a just on-prem," Ionel said. The emphasis is evolving from pure infrastructure to higher-level services for running applications across clouds.

While the AWS deal was the first of its kind for the company, Mirantis has since integrated its technology with Google Cloud Platform, and is building connectors to other providers, such as Microsoft Azure and Alibaba.

While, from a technology standpoint, those integrations don’t require formalized agreements, business relationships with those providers could develop organically over time, he said.