Mirantis aims $100m injection at its R&D and OpenStack community efforts

Along with Mirantis' own development work, the OpenStack open-source cloud platform's upstream community should feel the benefit of a $100m series B funding round.

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OpenStack firm Mirantis says the developer community and its own R&D efforts stand to be the main beneficiaries of a $100m injection announced today.

The funding round, which Mirantis is describing as the largest series B open-source investment in history, was led by Insight Venture Partners, joined by August Capital, as well as existing investors Intel Capital, WestSummit Capital, Ericsson, and Sapphire Ventures.

The OpenStack open-source project kicked off in 2010, instigated by Rackspace and NASA, to create components for building public and private clouds on standard hardware.

Now involving a large developer community involved in a range of loosely-coupled projects, OpenStack is backed by more than 200 vendors, including Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Oracle, Red Hat, and VMware.

Mirantis CEO Adrian Ionel said the funding will allow the company to step up work on Mirantis OpenStack as well as invest more upstream.

"We're one of the largest developers of OpenStack upstream in the community. Anybody who downloads OpenStack today benefits from the work of about 100 Mirantis engineers who are working upstream in the community. So we'll double-down on that," Ionel said.

"We'll invest even more there because we think that OpenStack still has to be developed to meet the needs of large cloud users.

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"Then we will also use the money to strengthen our partner ecosystem. We want to make sure our partners are extremely well taken care of so that they have easy and very robust support processes in place that integrate with ours so that customers can get a terrific experience when they run Mirantis OpenStack with some of the plugins of our partners."

The firm will also put money into broadening its coverage in key geographies around the world, he said.

A key specific area for R&D investment relates to making OpenStack more scalable and easier to operate at scale in an enterprise setting.

"There's a big difference where somebody like Expedia or Wells Fargo are running 200 nodes or 500 nodes on OpenStack or whether they running 20,000 nodes across seven datacentres across the globe," Ionel said.

"So we're very focused on making sure that whoever wants to run OpenStack at scale across multiple datacentres can do so reliably and predictably. That's extremely important."

Enabling workload mobility is the second prime area, according to Ionel.

"Key to the success of OpenStack is for people to move workloads onto OpenStack and move workloads from OpenStack very easily. People don't want a lock-in. People want to be able to run a cloud platform that serves their needs best, and workload mobility is key for them," he said.

"The third area for investment is making it easier for people to manage applications on OpenStack — to deploy and run apps on top of it."

Ionel said the scale of the funding round is a vote of confidence for OpenStack as well as for Mirantis, which he aims to take public in 2016.

"It's a vote of confidence in the belief that younger companies are more likely to emerge as the winners in OpenStack, compared with the old IT rust-belt companies that have a lot of challenges internally," he said.

"They are very much still engaged in the traditional enterprise IT business and trying to figure out how do they move to the cloud."

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