It’s fascinating being a close observer of the OpenStack ecosystem. To be honest, the machinations and posturing among the different players feels almost like a John Le Carre novel with friends, enemies and seemingly dozens of shades in between.
Two companies that epitomized this are Mirantis and Red Hat. Red Hat, the 800-pound gorilla in the open source world, has had long-term success commercializing various open-source projects, initially Linux, of course, but a host of others since.
For its part, Mirantis is a much newer player and was borne after the advent of OpenStack. Mirantis is essentially trying to “out Red Hat Red Hat.” The two were, back in distant memory, close partners, with Red Hat investing in Mirantis and talking of potential acquisition plans. Red Hat went in a different direction, however, acquiring competing OpenStack service provider eNovance and embarking on a war of words with the upstart. In fairness, I have to point out that the war of words between the two has been mutual, with Mirantis doing its part to fuel the flames.
I also have to offer up a bit of a mea culpa along with other OpenStack watchers in that we’ve been part of the continuation of the battle. A pitched, running battle with its fair share of Molotov cocktails and protest banners is exciting and, if nothing else, it makes technology journalists, usually the individuals who have to apologize for the boring-ness of the beat they cover, able to tell a more interesting story.
Anyway, all of that background sets the scene for another interesting OpenStack Summit next week and a pair of announcements from the two protagonists. Yesterday, Red Hat announced its global partnership with telco vendor Ericsson, and today Mirantis’ announced a deal with Japan-based NTT Communications.
Mirantis and NTT Communications partnership
Mirantis and NTT say they are joining forces to offer managers OpenStack as a service via NTT’s enterprise cloud and delivered from the company’s global data center network. This is an important milestone for Mirantis, as NTT is its first data center services partner, and as such, this is a broadening of product offering for the previously purely services player.
Until now, Mirantis has been all about helping various organizations build their OpenStack cloud. Scuttlebutt within the industry, however, suggested that this is a difficult business to scale because with the increasingly robust and stable state that OpenStack is in, ongoing revenue from these services gigs is limited. By entering into this partnership, therefore, Mirantis gets to become a product company—at least to a certain extent.
It’s also a great feeder to Mirantis’ service funnel. Large organizations are, sadly though it may be, conservative and often unwilling to adopt their own on-premises cloud. By partnering in this way with NTT, Mirantis gives them the option to try cloud via an off-premises model in a fully services manner. That may then give them the confidence to invest more broadly in an on-premises cloud. While this might sound counterintuitive and something akin to a “false cloud” acceptance, it is a pragmatic reflection on the status quo.
Of course NTT sees this as less of a progressive step and more of an end game.
“OpenStack is an essential component of tomorrow’s private cloud architectures, and Mirantis has industry-leading technology and processes in its OpenStack software and services, enabling them to manage OpenStack infrastructure as code,” said NTT Com VP of Cloud Services Hideki Kurihara. “Our technical and go-to-market collaboration will enable true experience of operationalized OpenStack, delivered as a service globally.”
I guess when you’re a player with almost $100 billion in revenue and 140 global locations, you can be so bullish. I don’t perceive it as quite so cut and dried and believe that even Mirantis sees this as a progression. Ever the diplomat (at least when he needs to be) Mirantis CMO and co-founder Boris Renski talks up the NTT value in this deal:
“With direct presence in 87 countries and regions, NTT Group commands the largest data center footprint in the world. Through this partnership, we’ll be able to deliver instant-on, hands-off managed cloud experience for our global customers with compelling economics."
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