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Mirantis Announces Flow, A Data Center-As-A-Service Offering

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Guest: Shaun O’Meara
Company: Mirantis
Show: Let’s Talk

Mirantis makes it possible to ship code faster. They provide real choice at every level of the stack, so organizations can use their favorite tools and frameworks to make cloud-native development simpler. And with their latest announcement, Mirantis now offers a vendor-agnostic, centrally operated service that covers virtualization and containerization inside the data center. This new offering called Mirantis Flow—a cloud-native data center-as-a-service offering, is based on the current Mirantis Container Cloud products and is the culmination of many years of working with personalization products, community products, and Swarm products.

According to Shaun O’Meara, Field CTO at Mirantis, “What we’re seeing is a lot of customers are struggling with that journey moving from on-premise data center, into the public cloud, and they’re spending a lot of money on traditional old-school virtualization technologies.”

Mirantis is taking their vast knowledge to help their customers make the transition to save money with data center virtualization and help them through the challenges of going cloud-native and shifting to containerization of their applications. At the same time, they’re using their product suites, like Container Cloud, to make it easier for customers to make the transition from on-prem to the cloud and even support multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud deployments.

The core components the company offers are Mirantis Container Cloud, which is their lifecycle management platform that provides a self-service experience; the Mirantis Kubernetes engine, which is their complete Kubernetes platform; Mirantis OpenStack for Kubernetes, which covers virtualization; Mirantis Secure Registry, for image management and security; and OpsCare for Mirantis Cloud Platform, which is their answer to operating those environments either by the client themselves or clients can have Mirantis take care of the environments on a 24/7 basis.

Mirantis is seeing the very definition of a data center, as a physical building where businesses store servers, changing. This change is brought about by the idea that no one wants to worry about infrastructure anymore. Although companies still need it, developers don’t want to care about where it is or how to consume it. To this, O’Meara says, “So we’re saying if we can offer access to the data center, and the data center no longer has to have a physical boundary…the data center becomes much more virtualized, but still with the same level of control, access rules, everything that you would have had in the data center, but we can extend that into the public cloud.” He adds “More importantly, we’re saying you don’t just have to go to one public cloud provider and get bound in there. What we’re saying is that data centers can be extended to any public cloud provider and all of them should you wish to.”

The idea of edge computing also comes into play because, ultimately, edge is just an extension of the data center. O’Meara makes it clear that “Yes, it has special needs. Yes, quite often we’re going to be using low-powered hardware, or it’s going to be very remote but on slower links. But ultimately what Container Cloud is bringing to the party…is that K8s is going to enable us to have very lightweight deployments right down on the edge, ARM-based hardware, if necessary, all orchestrated and managed from the central point of Container Cloud.”

Mirantis targets very big customers who already have virtualization solutions in their data centers (such as VMware and Red Hat) and are either beginning or are already on that journey towards cloud native. For those customers, Mirantis can bring their services armed to help with the migration process. They’re also targeting customers tight on resources, but need to undertake this journey. According to O’Meara, “We can help them by freeing up those resources, allow them to focus on the applications, and we’ll take on the responsibility for the infrastructure.”

The summary of the show is written by Jack Wallen


Here is the unedited transcript of the show…

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host, Swapnil Bhartiya, and welcome to our newsroom. Today we have with us once again, Shaun O’Meara, Field CTO at Mirantis. Shaun, it’s great to have you back on the show.

Shaun O’Meara: It’s great to be back. Good to see you again.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Yeah, and today we’re going to talk about Mirantis Cloud Native data centers. What exactly are you announcing today?

Shaun O’Meara: So we’re announcing our Cloud Native data center offering, which is a fender agnostic, centrally operated service that covers virtualization and containerization inside the data center based on our Mirantis Container Cloud products.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Why are you announcing this data center service? What unique challenge that you’re seeing these days that you wanted to address with this announcement?

Shaun O’Meara: As you know, Mirantis first spent a long time working within customer data centers over many, many years with our personalization products and with our communities products and swarm products. What we’re seeing is a lot of customers are struggling with that journey from moving from on-premise data center, into the public cloud, and they’re spending a lot of money on traditional old-school virtualization technologies. What we’re seeing and what we’re focusing on is helping those customers make the transition to save money within that data center virtualization. Learn those and to deal with those challenges of going Cloud Native and containerizing your applications. But at the same time, using our product suites like Container Cloud, to make it easier for them to make that transition from on-prem into the cloud and then to support multi-cloud and hybrid cloud deployment.

Swapnil Bhartiya: So this, is more or less, lives on their own on-prem cloud, private cloud, if I’m not wrong?

Shaun O’Meara: Correct. The, core offering that we’re offering here that a part of this offering is we will deliver our Container Cloud product as the core management component into your data center. It’s not bound to your data center, but that’s where we’ll start. We can then offer virtualization services and containerization services on demand in the data center and leverage your public cloud and other private clouds. You may already have to deliver community services.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Yeah. I want to understand the relationship or chemistry or flow from public cloud to private cloud. But before I go there, I also want to understand what are the core components of this offering?

Shaun O’Meara: So the core component is Mirantis Container Cloud itself, which is our lifecycle management, provides for that self-service experience. So that developers and operators can go in and get customers on demand very easily, and very quickly. On top of that, we’re offering Mirantis Kubernetes engine, which is our Kubernetes complete Kubernetes platform. So that includes the ingress networking from a Calico perspective, plus all the lifecycle and identity management components. We’re including Mirantis OpenStack, to cover virtualization. And as you know, we brought Mirantis OpenStack on top of Kubernetes as a workload on top of Kubernetes, we’re including Mirantis secure registry for image management and security.

So that’s what the complete bundle looks like today, wrapped with that, and I think the most valuable component of the solution we’re offering is our Mirantis Ops care. Mirantis Ops care is our answer to operating those environments for you. We offer that in two flavors, you can either operate yourself and we’ll monitor for you, or hand over the full operation for that stack to us, and we’ll monitor it 24/7 and operate it 24/7 on your behalf. Another really cool capability that we’re adding in as part of the offering is Lens spaces, which will allow our customers to get support on Kubernetes clusters and allow us access to those clusters for a limited period of time only when, and if they need it, otherwise we have no access into those environments, so a clone home capability.

Swapnil Bhartiya: So if I look at the [rest of] Mirantis services, offering products, you are offering, it goes all the way back to OpenStack to the latest offerings there. At some point, you also maybe doing something with zero K it says well there.

Shaun O’Meara: It’s coming a lot of great stuff happening in the roadmap with, with K0S, some very interesting things coming down the line as well with Lens and how we’re bringing all those together. We’ve got a great product line coming out and a great plan for the next year. And then wrapping it around and service offerings like this for the customers where they get a complete solution at a very favorable price, where we can help them save money in the data center and then ease that journey into the cloud, that’s very important to us.

Swapnil Bhartiya: I’m also curious about this announcement now, because most of the time we hear about cloud, we hear about No Code, Low Code, just as much as you can take away from developers pipeline. But at the same time, the reality is that even when you talk about serverless, there is a server in the serverless. We hear a lot about bare metal these days. We talked a lot with companies like Equinix these days a lot. So I want to understand from your perspective, the importance of data center into this kind of cloud-centric world, and why are you doing at this point?

Shaun O’Meara: That’s an awesome question. We’re taking the theory that the data center, as we know it today, which is a physical building where you’re storing servers is going to change, the definition of the data center is changing. Part of that core belief is nobody needs to, or wants to, worry about infrastructure anymore. We still need it, still has to be there, but developers don’t want to care about where it is or how to consume it. So we’re saying if we can make access to the data center, and the data center no longer has to have a physical boundary, now all of a sudden you can change the idea of data and your systems are running. The data center becomes much more virtualized, but still with the same level of control, access rules, everything that you would have had in the data center, but we can extend that into the public cloud. More importantly, we’re saying you don’t just have to go to one public cloud provider and get bound in there. What we’re saying is that data center can be extended to any public cloud provider and all of them should you wish to.

So that’s a very core part of the way we look at the data center of the future. And then also you mentioned the work we’re doing with Equinix Metal that’s the same idea. Let’s extend bare metal that we can support in the data center into bare metal on demand wherever you need it, because that has certain capabilities, whilst being able to leverage what the public clouds offer in their services and enable more access and greater scope for our customers.

Swapnil Bhartiya: There was a point where the definition of data center was very well defined, then came edge and we started defining, what is edge? What is Cloud? Now, once again, we have started asking, how would you define data center? Because of edge, we talk about edge data center and Mirantis is doing a lot of work in that space as well. And edge is more about hardware because you have these small devices at the far edge, the developers, they have to worry also about managing bulls because nobody is managing them. So can you also talk about how do you define that edge data center, all data center, and how would you enable these customers who might move a lot of their workloads near users.

Shaun O’Meara: That’s a great one. And it comes back to that same discussion I was having around the different parts of the data center. Ultimately edge is just an extension of the data center. Yes, it has special needs. Yes, quite often we’re going to be using low powered hardware, or it’s going to be very remote but on slower links. But ultimately what Container Cloud is bringing to the party, what we’re doing with a combination of K0S, which we mentioned earlier. K0S is going to enable us to have very, very lightweight deployments right down on the edge, ARM-based hardware, if necessary, we’ll have a CPU hardware, all orchestrated and managed from the central point of Container Cloud. Container Cloud provides us that core central database of resources that it developed can then query you get a list of resources and where they live, and when I say resources I’m talking compute storage, whatever’s accessible through Container Cloud. And then, either request a new communities cluster on those environments, if one doesn’t exist, or just consume what is there, but they will have a list that they can see, and see what the availability is.

All of that again, centrally monitored managed with a consistent environment. So I built something on my desktop environment for testing purposes. I test that in the instance, running in the cloud. When I pushed that down to the edge, it’s the same environment, the same security rules, the same setup, as anywhere else. So I know my workloads are going to work, which drives a portability capability as well.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Cloud Native world, or even if you look at data center space, these days, a multicloud, it is becoming kind of very, very crowded space. If you look at this offering, I know you can be diplomatic or you can be totally blunt, who are you competing against? Who are your direct competitors? And what kind of extra edge, no pun intended, are you bringing in there?

Shaun O’Meara: So our direct competitors are for the on-premise companies, obviously Red Hat and VMware in that space. There are smaller players, but those are the big guys that we’re going up against. Our edge is that we’re offering a very simple to understand solution. We offer everything in one go, the single starting point of Container Cloud, which is, put down the Container Cloud cluster, and everything expands out from there, added to our managed services offering. So in fact, we bundle that full managed service and we take away the entire responsibility and ownership of that infrastructure layer down. Essentially it’s an overused term, but give developers that Kubernetes dial tone and all they have to do is worry about applications. So same for the operators, the operators were going to take a lot of that pain, a lot of that stress away. And that’s a big advantage.

Swapnil Bhartiya: And if I ask you, who are you targeting with this offering?

Shaun O’Meara: We’re targeting right now, at least initially, large customers who already have virtualization solutions in their data centers, so that VMwares, the Red Hats of the world. Customers who are on that journey to Cloud Native or either right at the beginning of it or have started and stalling because we can bring in our services armed to help with that migration process, will have experience with that. Customers who have tight resources, but need to make the cloud journey. We can help them by freeing up those resources, allow them to focus on the applications, and we’ll take on the responsibility for the infrastructure.

Swapnil Bhartiya: One challenge that I see and I may be totally wrong is that when we do talk about data centers, we’d also look at a lot of legacy, applicational workload that has been there for a long. How are you going to help them modernize or containerize that kind of work load?

Shaun O’Meara: We have two approaches that we’re taking for that, and they’re tried and tested approaches for us, and we’ve been doing this for years. The first one before that legacy, if we talk about especially virtualized legacy environments, we can migrate from most of the other virtualization systems into our platform. That’s a first step along the journey. Let’s get everything contained, understand where it is. Our platform has been designed to be able to be more resilient, to cater for those types of workloads. The second step is we’ve got a very strong, consultative process. And we can also bring in a service team, which is a DevOps team platform as a service team, that can come in and work with you and guide the process of either just us doing it, we’ll take those virtualized applications where possible, and move them into containers. Or guiding and training and educating and doing the change management within the organization to help you learn how to containerize and then accelerating that process. We’ve done that very successfully for some fairly large customers across the world. And we’re continuing to do that right now, in all industries.

Swapnil Bhartiya: One last question is that we talk about technology a lot, we talk about products is there. But if I asked you, what is the direct impact on a developers, or operators, or customers life to this? Can you talk about that?

Shaun O’Meara: So from a developer’s point of view, developers no longer have to care whether they’re on Amazon or on Azure or on Prem, they have the same experience. They want a cluster, they kick it back and they get a working cluster straight away. So their life is simplified, standardized with a single point of access to that infrastructure, but still with the freedom to choose what they use and how they deploy onto that environment, we’re not going to dictate that.

From an operator’s point of view, they’re getting a single pane of glass into the potential sprawl. We’re taking on the responsibility of things like upgrades, patching, data management of the underlying systems, so that the operators can focus on working with our developers to move forward. And once again, large scale virtualization, containerization environments are complex. So we’re taking on all the Open Source components of that, which is very important. Everything we’re doing is Open Source, but we’re taking on all that Open Source management, which can take up a lot of time and paying for operator. We’re taking on all that responsibility, and then we can continuously update and upgrade those environments, giving you the access to the latest open source technologies.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Shaun, thank you so much for taking time out today and talked about this new offering and also kind of explain the challenges. And also kind of define a data center again and again, and again, it’s like fashion, it keeps coming back in the different format.

Shaun O’Meara: Everything goes in circles, yes.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Exactly. So thanks for the discussion, and as usual, I would love to have you back on the show. Thank you.

Shaun O’Meara:  Thank you very much.

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