Virtualization Technology News and Information
Q&A: Interview with Jim Sangster of Mirantis, Talking Unlocked Appliances Program and Turnkey OpenStack

Mirantis has emerged as the leading independent OpenStack vendor in the crowded cloud market as competitors shut down or disappear into the maw of giant legacy vendors through acquisition. The Mountain View-based vendor has evolved from its roots in professional services to a pure-play software OpenStack distribution vendor winning some of the largest customers in OpenStack like the Ericsson $50 million deal in 2014. Last fall, Mirantis announced the largest Series B venture investment in open source history, closing a $100 million round. Recently Mirantis unveiled its Mirantis Unlocked Appliances program, delivering turnkey OpenStack appliances to customers that work off the shelf. I spoke to Jim Sangster, senior director of Solutions Marketing at Mirantis, to learn more.

VMblog:  How does the Mirantis Unlocked Appliances program work?

Jim Sangster:  We work with partners. We don't sell appliances to customers or providers directly ourselves. A Mirantis Certified Rack Partner sells the Unlocked Appliance to the customer and the revenue for all the products and support goes to them.  Part of the value is the certification of the Unlocked Appliance after delivery, ensuring a properly configured and running private or public cloud.

VMblog:  Is this the first hardware effort from Mirantis for appliances?

Sangster:  The Unlocked Appliance program is the first turnkey appliance business model for Mirantis, adding to the spectrum of offerings around Mirantis OpenStack. We were already engaging customers with custom OpenStack engineering services and with support for our Mirantis OpenStack distribution. Unlocked Appliances builds on this by offering Mirantis OpenStack inside turnkey Unlocked Appliances - best for customers who want even faster time-to-value and reduced risk in deployment. Everything is pre-tested and certified to work out-of-the-box.  In the Service Provider market, providers can then focus on their differentiation as opposed to expending resources on OpenStack itself.

VMblog:  Why work with Redapt - as opposed to direct with Dell?  What is the additional value/benefit to enterprises?

Sangster:  Redapt has a worldwide footprint and vast integration capabilities to serve their customers with OpenStack knowledge in their Cloud Practice. They know how to help enterprises and cloud providers alike solve IT challenges like building OpenStack based clouds. They can quickly integrate and deliver rack-based solutions (in this case, Mirantis Unlocked Appliance for Cloud Native Applications); and they provide lifecycle services in a close-touch relationship with their customers.

Much of Dell's business goes through partners, too. Redapt was Dell's Enterprise Solution Provider of the Year for 2014.

Having said that, as we build the ecosystem of Certified Rack Partners, it does not rule out the possibility of Dell or others from doing this as well.

VMblog:  How will Mirantis validate or certify other hardware solutions?

Sangster:  Today we are announcing our first appliance, powered by Dell, Intel and Juniper Networks. This is the start of a partner portfolio. We are already working with other companies to build our roadmap towards a larger portfolio. I can't disclose who we are working with on future appliances, however you may notice that our Unlocked Partner program offers a terrific bench of hardware and software vendors that are already integrating with Mirantis OpenStack - they are all likely candidates.

VMblog:  From a competitive standpoint - HP is trying to do this now too (Helion Rack) and IBM (via BlueBox) does as well - where is the differentiation for Mirantis?

Sangster:  Mirantis Appliances are unique on two fronts: First, they include Mirantis OpenStack, what we consider the best enterprise-grade OpenStack distribution. Second, because we are the pure-play OpenStack company, our Appliances can draw from broad ecosystem of best-of-breed technology partners. We don't have to force customers to use the rest of our product portfolio. We only do OpenStack.

For example, let me compare the HP Helion Rack to our first appliance. HP has 5 physical management nodes and independent storage for block, object and ephemeral. It has an 8-node max per rack on compute, and the compute nodes are using expensive dual 18 core CPUs and only 256MB of RAM. If you look at the ratio of how much compute ends up in a rack and how much other stuff is in there to support it, it is an inefficient use of the rack. The 5 physical management nodes increase costs and the amount of space required. By only supporting 8 compute nodes, customers must trade off how much compute they can get out of a rack. Then, giving customers 3 different storage choices for the 3 different kinds of storage is complex. Although I was not part of the design process, it seems that this appliance was born out of a hardware agenda.

By comparison, Mirantis started with an OpenStack use case we see over and over again in customer engagements (cloud-native applications), and worked with partners to build a turnkey appliance that meets this need. We virtualized all the management services into 3 physical nodes (for high availability), thus consuming less physical space and lowering price.  There is one storage option which very easily combines block, object and ephemeral together -- much more efficient.  We have sizes ranging from 6-24 compute nodes in the same rack -- a more efficient range of choice in a customer's datacenter.  The compute nodes we have specified also have a much more balanced ratio of cores to memory, and are less expensive. The result is an extremely efficient, out-of-the-box OpenStack appliance that is tailored to what customers need.


Great information!  A special thank you to Jim Sangster, Sr. Director of Solutions Marketing at Mirantis, for taking time out to speak with

Mirantis Jim Sangster 

Published Wednesday, July 08, 2015 10:15 AM by David Marshall
Q&A: Discussing the NetApp Partnership with Mirantis : @VMblog - (Author's Link) - October 12, 2015 4:46 PM
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