TL; DR: Since its inception in 2011, Mirantis has been the David to many tech-industry Goliaths, overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds through grit, determination, and — of course — coding chops. Today, the privately-held company has victoriously emerged as a leader in OpenStack and Kubernetes contributions and boasts a position as the industry’s top pure-play open cloud provider. We recently sat down with Mirantis VP of Corporate Marketing David Van Everen, who told us how the industry renegades are continuing to build on a history of relentless innovation — including the release of new technology intended to help enterprises take advantage of the cloud at scale.
California-based Mirantis first dipped its toes into the tech market in 2011 with code contributions to the open-source infrastructure platform OpenStack, which had launched in late 2010.
“That’s where Mirantis made a name for itself,” said David Van Everen, Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Mirantis. “We were one of the first companies to adopt OpenStack as a leading contributor to the software base for roughly four years, from 2012–2016.”
At that time, IT operators were attempting to emulate the functionality they could achieve with public cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), on a private cloud.
“OpenStack was initiated to provide that public cloud experience through an on-premises cloud,” David said. “Over the course of that four years, many companies large and small — including RedHat and HPE — contributed to the OpenStack code, adding a lot of features and stability.”
In late 2016, however, the market shifted. David told us companies began realizing that orchestrating their own private clouds was extremely difficult.
“It involved some really heavy lifting, and the public cloud increasingly started to dominate the cloud market overall,” David said. “More and more companies, particularly enterprises, chose to go to public cloud for their cloud infrastructure, leaving telecommunications service providers as the main consumers and beneficiaries of OpenStack technology.”
Mirantis quickly picked up on the shift, which also included a move toward containerized applications and technologies like Kubernetes.
“We saw there was a need to create a more flexible approach to managing the software being used for cloud infrastructure, so we introduced dev-ops principles and tooling into the way that we delivered software,” David said.
In 2016, the company acquired TCP Cloud to extend its managed open cloud capabilities and, in 2017, launched the Mirantis Cloud Platform including Kubernetes and OpenStack. This involved disaggregating into individual services all the software Mirantis was delivering to customers.
“In a sense, it was very similar to what many companies are doing when they’re containerizing their apps: They’re creating microservices for individual parts or services within an app,” David said. “We did the same thing with OpenStack, Kubernetes, and software-defined networking, and came up with this aggregated collection of artifacts — mostly VMs — that were packaged and provided under a repository.”
Today, Mirantis remains a leading OpenStack provider, is one of the top 10 Kubernetes contributors, and touts itself as the #1 pure-play open cloud company — all while retaining the innovative culture startups are known for.
A Multi-Cloud Stack Providing Continuous Open-Source Tech Delivery
Mirantis Cloud Platform (MCP), a multi-cloud software stack, now performs a vital role in helping enterprises and service providers reliably accelerate open-source application delivery. Built using an operations-centric approach, it provides proactive monitoring and analytics to ensure maximum availability while continuously delivering automated infrastructure updates, as well as applications, through a CI/CD pipeline.
“Our customers have a dev-ops toolchain called DriveTrain, a branded name for the lifecycle management part of Mirantis Cloud Platform that is essentially git, Gerrit, and Jenkins,” David said. “It creates a CI/CD pipeline for delivering the packages that we provide for Mirantis Cloud Platform to users so they can consume all of that much more rapidly and do things like updating or upgrading in place with minimum or zero time for workloads, for example.”
The platform can include OpenStack and/or Kubernetes, enabling users to quickly provision VM, container, and bare metal compute resources; along with Ceph, OpenContrail, and Calico for software-defined storage and networking.
It’s a flexible model that allows users to leverage open-source innovation much more quickly — within weeks compared to months or even years.
“Everything boils down to business agility, which can contribute to both higher revenue and lower costs,” David said.
A Turnkey Build-Operate-Transfer Model Free From Vendor Lock-In
The company’s flexible build-operate-transfer delivery model was designed to match the operations and support needs of each client. The build phase, for example, includes a roadmap that outlines how the customer can potentially scale.
“Part of what we do during discovery and implementation is architect the solution in a way that makes sense for them,” David said. “If they have multiple datacenters or need to do multiple clusters, we have tooling that’s going to help us replicate what we build in additional datacenters or additional clusters as needed.”
Next comes the operate phase, including OpsCare. David told us this is a managed service where Mirantis has an SLA with customers and is operating the environment for them.
But, as David noted, the transfer phase is where the benefits of open-source software really shine.
“One of the advantages of open-source for enterprises is that there is greater freedom from vendor lock-in,” David said. “Even if companies don’t take advantage of that, they know it’s there and they have the option. It’s essentially a controlled transition from our managed service and our OpsCare to their operations team taking over and us providing enterprise support.”
Leverage Cloud at Scale with Mirantis App Platform Based on Spinnaker
The company’s newest offering, Mirantis App Platform (MAP), is currently in beta testing.
“MAP is a new offering based primarily on an open-source technology called Spinnaker, and it’s intended to provide tooling and release management for cloud apps,” David said.
The technology works across both private and public cloud providers and is independent from — but complementary to — MCP.
“It essentially provides a way to enable enterprises to achieve cloud ROI at scale, David said. “We’ve been talking with a lot of companies recently about how they’re moving apps to the cloud, how they’re containerizing apps — or not, in a lot of cases.”
Taking advantage of the cloud at scale is a challenge. David told us it’s simple for, say, 10 people to launch an app on Amazon. But, as the number grows, so does the difficulty level.
“When you’re talking about 1,000 engineers across 100 teams, it becomes a lot more challenging to standardize the processes and the tooling around that,” he said. “MCP Apps is designed to help solve that problem.”
MCP Apps also helps users introduce new releases into production with the potential to roll them back if anomalies are detected. And David said Spinnaker is the orchestration engine controlling all of that process.
“The overall arc for Mirantis as a company has been moving from infrastructure toward apps and from classic IT operations toward dev-ops and continuous delivery principles — across both infrastructure software and the application software that we provide to our customers,” he said.
OpenStack & Kubernetes Training & Certification Tailored to User Need
In addition to MCP and MAP, Mirantis helps IT professionals excel in OpenStack and Kubernetes through a comprehensive training curriculum available in 85 locations across the globe. The vendor-agnostic courses include hands-on training, theory, and peer collaboration to ensure student receives the tools they need to become experts.
To date, Mirantis has bestowed its OpenStack and Kubernetes Certifications — recognized as some of the best IT certifications in the industry — upon more than 4,500 students, equipping them with the knowledge to manage any open-source environment.
The company’s instructors are in-house engineers with backgrounds in Linux, networking, virtualization, and storage. By bringing this technical expertise to the classroom, Mirantis ensures students receive a comprehensive educational experience.
In the past, that expertise is just what gave Mirantis a fighting chance against competitors.
“When we were going up against big company names, and we were just little Mirantis, we would often be successful in competing for business because we had the OpenStack engineering chops through all of our code contributions as well as a professional, services-oriented company that could handle the complexity involved with OpenStack,” David said.