When pure play isn’t: Mirantis releases Kubernetes distro

My days of describing Mirantis as the most fun, pure-play OpenStack vendor are over. Breadth is the new survival tactic

The vast majority of readers will know the Mirantis story. Lots of drama, the center of many an internet storm, intrigue and a singular focus on making OpenStack really break out and be a thing. Well much of that remains, but much doesn’t. Mirantis’ image as the bad-boy Russian tech company has changed since they consciously decided to move away from the Russian thing. They still no doubt party hard, but they’re no longer purely focused on OpenStack. (Oh, and one other thing has changed, and that is the departure of one of the better tech communications execs out there, Sarah Bennett, y’all should hire her, she’s ace.)

Anyway, recently Mirantis signaled that it was going to work within other open source infrastructure programs, in an effort to build viability for itself as a business. Today sees them deliver the first part of that with the release of the Mirantis Kubernetes Distribution. Kubernetes is, of course, the container orchestration platform that was open sourced out of Google a few years ago. Kubernetes is itself a direct descendent of Borg, the systems that Google uses to run its own infrastructure and, say what you will about the Goog, but it’s hard to deny that they know how to run infrastructure at scale.

Kubernetes seems to have attracted a very vocal following -- with lots of production adoption, lots of initiatives and companies supporting it, and much buzz within the tech commentary community. And so it makes sense for Mirantis to offer a commercially supported version of Kubernetes for all of those large organizations that want someone to hold their hand when using the platform. In the same way that organizations can use OpenStack themselves, without leveraging a commercial product, so to is it for Kubernetes. But, as we all know, large enterprise customers want a hand to hold, a throat to choke or other such metaphors to de-risk their IT decisions.

Mirantis is actually covering its bases pretty well and is offering a single integrated package including both OpenStack and Kubernetes. Depending on your perspective, this either creates a huge tower of turtles -- many of whom have no real reason to be there -- or, if you’re more open-minded, a compelling offering that gives organizations more choice when it comes to the totality of their infrastructure needs. Personally I’m somewhere in the middle but accept that for big, traditional organizations with a large range of physical and virtual, traditional architected or container-based, this consistent offering could be pretty attractive.

As always, we can rely on Boris Renski, co-founder of Mirantis to add some color to the news:

“Today, infrastructure consumption patterns are defined by the public cloud, where everything is API-driven, managed and continuously delivered. Mirantis OpenStack, which featured Fuel as an installer, was the easiest OpenStack distribution to deploy, but every new version required a forklift upgrade. Mirantis Cloud Platform departs from the traditional installer-centric architecture and towards an operations-centric architecture, continuously delivered by either Mirantis or the customers’ DevOps team with zero downtime. Updates no longer happen once every 6-12 months, but are introduced in minor increments on a weekly basis. In the next five to ten years, all vendors in the space will either find a way to adapt to this pattern or they will disappear.”

Mirantis is also introducing an interesting new delivery model, designed (I suspect) to avoid the common situation of disappointment post-implementation. Instead of selling a regular software subscription, the company will onboard customers to Mirantis Cloud Platform through a build-operate-transfer delivery model. The company will operate an open cloud platform for customers for a period of at least twelve months with up to four nines SLA, prior to off-boarding the operational burden to a customer's team, if desired.


Mirantis is a bit of a cat with nine lives. This Kubernetes story sees them, once again, pivot into a more likely area of success for them. The offering makes sense and fulfills a real customer need. As always, the future will be interesting to see.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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