Intel Expands Cloud Efforts With Mirantis Collaboration, Investment

The chip maker, which led a $100 million funding round for Mirantis, will work with the company to make OpenStack more enterprise-ready.


Intel officials are pushing forward with the company's ambitious cloud efforts by collaborating with OpenStack distributor Mirantis to enhance the enterprise capabilities of the open-source cloud stack.

The giant chip maker, which last month unveiled its "Cloud for All" initiative, also is leading a $100 million fundraising round for Mirantis and its 4-year-old subscription-based version of OpenStack. Joining Intel in the funding round were Goldman Sachs and existing Mirantis investors August Capital, Insight Venture Partners, Ericsson, Sapphire venture and WestSummit Capital.

Mirantis has had a strong year, with broader adoption of its OpenStack software among businesses looking to gain efficiency and cost advantages with cloud computing environments—and use cases company officials can now point to—and support among investors; the company raised $100 million in Series B funding in 2014, led by $30 million from wireless technology vendor Ericsson. The partnership and collaboration with Intel is only the latest significant step for both Mirantis and the larger effort in the OpenStack environment, and gives a boost to the idea of using the technology in enterprise data centers, according to Alex Freedland, co-founder and president of Mirantis.

"It is good to see that Intel (which was recently voted a Platinum member of the OpenStack Foundation) is starting to commit substantial resources to the OpenStack ecosystem," Freedland wrote in a post on the company blog. "By making OpenStack an integral part of the 'Cloud for All' initiative, Intel (which owns 90-plus percent of the server market worldwide) sends a strong message to enterprise buyers that OpenStack and Intel-based commodity hardware will constitute a natural union."

Enterprises are increasingly adopting private, public and hybrid clouds, and "they need choices in their infrastructure software," Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager for Intel's Data Center Group, said in a statement. "OpenStack is an ideal open solution for cloud-native applications and services, and our collaboration with Mirantis is well placed to ensure the delivery of critical new enterprise features helping to create of tens of thousands of clouds."

However, while OpenStack deployments have helped some businesses find value in their use of clouds, there are still issues that need to be dealt with, Intel officials said in a post on the company blog. IT managers have told them that OpenStack can be too complex, that it doesn't easily support traditional enterprise applications and optimizing OpenStack for deployment can be a time-consuming process.

"While IT organizations have benefitted from the added effort of deployment, the industry can do better," the officials wrote. "This is why Intel is working with Mirantis to tune OpenStack for feature optimization, and while this work extends from network infrastructure optimization to storage tuning and beyond, there are a few common themes of the work."

The initial focus of the collaboration will be to make OpenStack better at running the traditional enterprise applications, the officials wrote. Many businesses currently are deploying native cloud workloads in their environments, but the legacy applications are still critical to their operations and need high levels of reliability, uptime and infrastructure control.

The second focus will be of enhancing the performance of the stack by optimizing it for the Intel Architecture, including Intel's virtualization and cloud technologies. The final push will be to make OpenStack fully embrace software-defined storage and network resource pooling. There also will be work around support for big data and performance at scale, officials said.

Intel kicked off its Cloud for All initiative in July, with the goal being to "accelerate the adoption of highly efficient clouds for businesses and providers," Bryant said during a press conference at the time.

The first step was a partnership with cloud hosting provider Rackspace to establish an innovation center to create the world's largest cloud for OpenStack developers, drive enterprise features into OpenStack and significantly increase the number of developers working on the open-source cloud platform. The partnership is the first of 15 to 20 announcements Intel will make around its cloud initiative over the next year, Bryant and Jason Waxman, general manager of Intel's Cloud Platforms Group, said during the press conference.