Containerized app vendor Mesosphere extends strategic relationships with Dell EMC, Hitachi

The reseller deal with Dell EMC, and OEM relationship around the Hitachi Enterprise Cloud Container program should significantly increase Mesosphere’s growing channel business.

Greg Kirchoff, Mesosphere’s VP of Business Development

LAS VEGAS — San Francisco-based Mesosphere, which makes a platform for building and running containerized applications, has extended their strategic vendor ecosystem with new announcements with both Dell EMC and Hitachi. The Dell EMC deal sees them become part of that company’s reseller program.  The Hitachi relationship makes Mesosphere the engine in Hitachi Enterprise Cloud for Containers, an important new offering Hitachi just announced at their NEXT customer event here,

Mesosphere’s technology commercializes and extends the Apache Mesos open source software project, which manages clusters by maximizing compute, unifying CPUs, memory, storage and other computer resources. Mesos was created by Ben Hindman, one of their co-founders, as part of his PhD work. Mesosphere makes the technology much more available, building and running apps containerized for microservices, across datacentres, and both private and public clouds.

In June at HPE Discover, Mesosphere announced a strategic relationship with Hewlett Packard Enterprise [HPE] which integrates Mesosphere’s technology with HPE Synergy composable hardware, and the HPE OneView’s management software platform. That deal was particularly significant given that HPE is an investor in Mesosphere. These two agreements aren’t quite at that level of importance – but they are close.

“The HPE relationship is a durable one which has gone on for a number of years,” said Greg Kirchoff, Mesosphere’s VP of Business Development. “The Dell EMC relationship was completely organic and customer-driven, but the trajectory is going in the right direction, and the pipeline has grown a lot.”

The Dell EMC makes Mesosphere a formal part of Dell EMC’s reseller program, allowing joint customers to purchase licenses for Mesosphere’s DC/OS platform, as well as services and training, directly from Dell EMC and its reseller partners.

“Historically, we have had more of a field-based relationship with Dell – the purest way a partnership gets created – when field people from both companies are brought together by customers,” Kirchoff said. “This agreement formalizes those relationship. That’s a major net-new for us.”

The relationship will also see the two companies develop and roll over joint go-to-market activities.

“These formal go-to-market activities are in the process of being made now, and will come out in the next few months,” Kirchoff said.

“Dell’s approach focuses on creating a holistic business to drive a vibrant partner ecosystem – whether from within their own federation or companies or outside it,” he added. “This agreement strengthens our joint hybrid play in the enterprise.”

The Hitachi deal is more of a conventional OEM relationship, in an offering that Hitachi spotlighted at their customer event, the Hitachi Enterprise Cloud Container Platform.

“The platform comes from our partnership with Mesosphere and brings our hardware and their software together in a Platform-as-a-service [PaaS] solution,” said Bob Modaio, VP Infrastructure Solutions Marketing, Hitachi Vantara. “Working with Mesosphere makes the data centre much more container-centric. A lot of customers aren’t ready for an all-in approach with the public cloud but they do want that cloud experience, and we can deliver it with PaaS.”

The Hitachi Enterprise Cloud Container Platform provides PaaS element integration and user interface, container engine, scheduling, orchestration and workflow. It also includes more than 50 preconfigured container applications, and options for persistent storage and private repository.

Kirchoff appeared to be as excited about the Hitachi relationship as the Hitachi execs.

“When you run alliances for a software company, you can’t call out a favorite,” he said. “However, watching Hitachi evolve their business into Vantara, addressing pain points we see day in and day out, I think they are setting themselves up for success. I have been blown away by their level of expertise on containers. Bobby Soni [Vanara’s Chief Solutions and Services Officer, who runs the cloud business] has a golden touch. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. With the entire Hitachi lineup of products and all the Internet of Things products they make, they have a huge conduit into that market.”

The go-to-market motion with Hitachi is also in the process of being implemented.

“We are rolling out a GTM to our sales team,” Kirchoff said. “We have a good joint pipeline already with some beta customers. There’s a managed services piece of the alliance, and an on-prem piece.”

Kirchoff, who was Director, Global ISV Alliances and Business Development at Microsoft for 13 years, came to Mesosphere to execute the company’s channel strategy, and sees these two deals as an important component in advancing it.

“Our channel really consists of four segments,” he said. “One is platform players like HPE and Dell. A second is cloud players – Azure, AWS and Google – and we expect AWS and Azure announcements in the next quarter or so. A third is the system integrators, and we are aligned with many of the global SIs. Then we have VARs and and regional SIs, about 25 of these. We are growing that, but not looking to grow it to exponential levels. We are looking for quality and the right fit, around containers, Big Data or hybrid cloud practices.

“A good litmus test for enterprise penetration is seeing how the channel is increasing,” he said. “Are we getting good partners, making good margins? When I considered coming here, I asked were they absolutely set on having a good channel. The channel is the focus now. When I came in [November 2016] we were 95 per cent direct.  Now, it’s about 80 per cent direct. The goal for next year is to get the channel to 30-40 per cent, and into the 50 per cent range in two years.”