Just a few years ago, the cloud cognoscenti guffawed when Oracle CEO Larry Ellison introduced his "cloud in a box." The general consensus was that anything tied to a particular piece of hardware can't be regarded as a real cloud. Cloud tends to sit on faceless, nameless commodity hardware, or so the orthodox view held. But in recent years things have gotten a little more nuanced, and a number of vendors are now offering cloud appliances. The growth of so-called converged infrastructure offerings has been a pragmatic response to the fact that, for a number of enterprises, a known logo on the box, a packaged offering, and vendors who support both hardware and software are attractive.
So it is little surprise to see the news today that Mirantis, perhaps the most successful pure-play OpenStack vendor, is launching a program to cover the increasing number of offerings that match Mirantis' OpenStack solution with hardware.
Mirantis Unlocked Appliances is a portfolio of converged offerings certified and delivered by partners. The appliances are single or multi-rack converged solutions, which are delivered as turnkey offerings. They also have the tick of approval that comes with pre-validation by Mirantis and pre-integration by the partner.
The use of appliances may go against the purists' view of the cloud, but it is still rampant. Alex Freedland, Mirantis' president and co-founder, explains that approximately 20% of infrastructure is consumed through the appliance form factor. Delivering OpenStack as a cloud-in-a-box may be a bitter pill for many to swallow, but it makes perfect business sense.
The way the program works is simple. Through the Unlocked Appliance program, Mirantis collaborates with Unlocked Technology Partners, including hardware and software vendors, to design and pre-validate an architecture configuration that uses Mirantis OpenStack. Rack Partners then build, deliver, and certify appliances for customers.
The first cab off the rank into the program is Redapt, Inc., a cloud-focused systems integrator based in Redmond. In addition to building and certifying the appliance, Redapt pre-validated the reference architecture in an engineering collaboration with Mirantis.
The first iteration of the succinctly named Mirantis Unlocked Appliance for Cloud Native Applications is powered by Dell and Juniper and aims to enable agile development of cloud-native applications and production deployments of container-based services. The solution offers both flexibility and scalability, with configurations ranging from six compute nodes and 12 TBs of usable storage, to a full rack comprised of 24 compute nodes and 24 TBs of usable storage, and a maximum of two racks sustaining over 1,500 virtual machines and 48 TBs of usable storage. Compute and foundation nodes are based on Dell R630 servers. Storage nodes are based on Dell R730xd servers with Intel SSD-based cache. Obviously, Mirantis OpenStack provides the infrastructure foundation.
Larry Ellison will be feeling vindicated today. It may not be the mass-scale public cloud as we know it, but sometimes, cloud-in-a-box is actually a thing. Who would have thought?
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