Mirantis and IBM offer bare-metal hosted OpenStack-as-a-service

OpenStack vendor Mirantis partners with IBM Softlayer subsidiary on Mirantis OpenStack Express pay-as-you-go service

OpenStack, the build-your-own-cloud software adopted as a flagship product by Red Hat, Canonical, and others, has long been seen as difficult to set up and manage. Now IBM (by way of its Softlayer cloud subsidiary) and Mirantis (both an OpenStack vendor and solutions provider) are pairing up to provide OpenStack as a private, on-demand, pay-as-you-go service hosted on bare metal provisioned exclusively for the user.

Mirantis OpenStack Express uses Mirantis' own OpenStack distribution, combined with Softlayer's hardware and data centers, to provide what Mirantis CEO Adrian Ionel describes as "the easiest and most reliable way to stand up and run a private OpenStack cloud." Mirantis has been beta testing the service for two months with Alcatel-Lucent, General Electric, Symantec, and Sprint.

OpenStack Express's big selling points are threefold: predictable pricing, ease-of-use, and direct management of the hosts down to the bare metal.

Pricing is as uncomplicated as it gets, starting at $59.98 a day and another $29.98 per day for each additional physical server. That's it.

As for ease-of-use, OpenStack Express's most basic parameters can be configured from a Web panel, to provision anywhere from two to 50 bare-metal servers available in three different data centers (San Jose, Singapore, and Amsterdam). Mirantis emphasizes that direct control of each host is possible down to the bare metal, and there's no multitenancy. A low-end configuration can support up to 60 virtual machines of 1 vCPU, 1GB of RAM, and 5GB of storage each; the high end can support a little less than 3,000 servers. More data centers are scheduled to be added later this year.

On the management side there's the aforementioned Web panel to get started, along with other boiled-down Web panels for accessing the likes of the Fuel Control Plane, used to perform hardware discovery and configuration (among other items). Mirantis also provides documentation and tools to move an existing workload into OpenStack Express. Users can migrate in standalone VM images, an existing OpenStack setup, AWS workloads, or VMWare workloads.

Before offering its own OpenStack distribution -- upon which OpenStack Express is based -- Mirantis concentrated on building OpenStack clouds for big-name customers like eBay and PayPal. Though rumors of Mirantis jointly developing with Softlayer for public consumption floated around earlier this year, when the two the companies demoed a proof-of-concept OpenStack deployment involving 75,000 VMs booted onto 350 physical machines, all deployed over approximately eight hours.

Gauging the uptake of OpenStack in enterprises has been tricky, whether it's deployed afresh or to replace existing Amazon EC2 or VMware installations. Interest in hiring OpenStack talent is growing, and vendors such as Red Hat are tying in OpenStack closely with their respective Linux distributions. But signs show that the average OpenStack installation is rather modest and OpenStack has struggled to find larger market share -- possibly, as InfoWorld's Dave Linthicum observed, due to its continued lack of robust networking features.

OpenStack Express alone can't fix those problems, but it ought to lower at least one perceived barrier to entry: the simple act of getting it up and running.

Correction: An earlier version of this article noted that OpenStack Express required a minimum 30-day commitment. The service allows use in single-day increments with no minimum number of days.

This story, "Mirantis and IBM offer bare-metal hosted OpenStack-as-a-service," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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