There’s a revolving door heading into Mirantis’ HQ and Adrian Ionel – co-founder and one-time CEO, has just gotten a serious case of motion sickness as he takes another circuit around it to come back as CEO.

Mirantis is, of course, the bad boy of open source cloud computing. once upon a time the “ preeminent “pure play” OpenStack vendor, the company has been buffeted by the changing winds of fortune and moved on from a pure-play OpenStack focus to becoming the pre-eminent player in the open cloud infrastructure space. Basically as the reality that most (many) organizations using OpenStack are doing so under their own steam came home, Mirantis was forced to find a defensible business model.

Beyond being at the center of all the best fights, that is. You see Mirantis has a long history of being edgy – perhaps the first inkling of this was when Mirantis was at the center of a story suggesting that PayPal was dropping VMware in favor of OpenStack. The story, which read really well despite its less than perfect accuracy, helped to wipe more than two billion dollars off of VMware’s market capitalization. No mean feat for a single blog post. And from then on it just keeps going – Mirantis’ CMO and co-founder, Boris Renski, coincidentally pretty much the only exec who has stayed in place over the years, kept finding the perfect gems to create high traffic stories.

But that didn’t change the fact that Mirantis was still searching for a business model that worked, and despite all the fun and cool stories, there were some tough times as staff was drastically cut. One person who jumped ship as things were getting tough was Adrian Ionel. In the middle of 2015, it was announced that he was leaving to launch a new venture and that he would be replaced by Alex Freeland. Another co-founder, Alex was somewhat invisible as Renski was always the central figure in Mirantis’ public appearances.

And so, today things seem to be going full circle as the company announced that Ionel is coming back as CEO. Freeland (who, despite the fact that he’s not had a reported sighting for a couple of years, is still CEO) will remain a board member. If the machinations of Mirantis feel to readers like a cross between Nero, Machiavelli, and the Russian Mafia… you wouldn’t be alone. It’s lucky I don’t eat popcorn because all the popcorn in the world wouldn’t be enough to keep commentators going as they watch Mirantis’ twists and turns.

Ionel is, of course, bullish about Mirantis’ future, saying that:

Technology is constantly evolving, but the rule for building a great company remains constant: a fantastic team caring deeply about customers. It is Mirantis’ culture of genuine curiosity and care towards customers that enabled us to be an excellent OpenStack partner to most demanding business. It is that same culture that makes us a great company to partner with on a multi-cloud journey.

And I have to concur with Ionel, having attended a number of Mirantis’ parties over the year, I can confirm that, as far as excellent hospitality goes, this company pulls out all the stops.

What’s the plan, Stan?

According to Ionel, the company plans to grow its existing cloud infrastructure business, invest to maintain its leadership position, and continue to raise quality and focus on use cases where it can create unique value for the customers. All part of the new look Mirantis which is further evolving from using open source to build private clouds, to using open source to deploy and run apps on any cloud. Plus change. As they say.

Beyond the snark, however, Mirantis seems to be executing on its transformation strategies. In just the past year, Mirantis has launched multiple Kubernetes initiatives, as well as a new multi-cloud CaaS offering supporting enterprises in their transition to containerized, cloud-native applications. Mirantis also enhanced its DriveTrain lifecycle management capabilities in Mirantis Cloud Platform (MCP) to include features that facilitate multi-cloud application deployments that conform to an enterprise’s internal governance and policies.

Mirantis is like a cat with nine lives. It seems its leadership team displays similar traits. Where this will all end up, and what Mirantis’ eventual fate will be, is anyone’s guess. For the moment, however, it’s highly entertaining to watch.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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