​Mesosphere unveils Mesos-based datacenter OS plus $36m injection

On top of announcing $36m in new funding, Mesosphere has taken the wraps off its DCOS platform, designed to pool resources across a datacenter as if it were a single machine.
Written by Toby Wolpe, Contributor
Benjamin Hindman: True evolution of cluster management.
Image: Mesosphere
Mesosphere is planning to put most of a new multimillion dollar funding injection into expanding the inhouse engineering team behind an ambitious Mesos-based platform, launching next year.

The $36m series B funding round, announced today, is being led by new investor Khosla Ventures, with investments from Andreessen Horowitz, Fuel Capital and SV Angel among others, and takes the total raised by Mesosphere to $50m.

The San Francisco-based company, which hired Mesos co-creator Benjamin Hindman as chief architect from Twitter in September, has about 30 engineering staff split between Hamburg and California.

It plans to expand to between 120 and 140 employees by the end of 2015, of whom at least 100 will be engineers. Leading Stanford cloud systems researcher Christos Kozyrakis also recently joined Mesosphere's management team.

Early next year, possibly in the first quarter, the company intends to go to general availability with what it calls Mesosphere datacenter operating system, or DCOS.

According to the company, DCOS pools datacenter compute resources and automates common operations, making it easier to manage and run massive distributed applications.

"In some sense of the word, the software that we're building is in the realm of cluster management but it's far, far beyond that. What we've done is a true evolution of cluster management. Cluster management is yesterday's way that people manage distributed systems in clusters," Hindman said.

"What we've done with DCOS is the way that you run your software, your distributed applications, in your datacenter and cloud, is based on technology that gives you the same kinds of primitives and abstractions that an operating system would give you on a single machine - except across all the machines and across all the resources in the datacenter. That's very different from cluster management."

The Mesos open-source distributed systems kernel on which Mesosphere is based is being to run a number of major websites, including Twitter, Airbnb and HubSpot.

"The first interface that we've built is a command-line interface [because] it's the standard interface you want to engage with something like an operating system. It's also especially useful for the development crowd who tend to prefer something like a CLI versus a graphical user interface," Hindman said.

"Then we've also started to build out a lot of the other functionality around the DCOS that people will want to consume. Things like other graphical visualisation components as well as some products that you could imagine will be part of an operating system - things around security, authentication and authorisation."

The company said as well as enterprise-grade security, DCOS offers a set of core system services, including Marathon for distributed init, Chronos for distributed cron, DNS for service discovery, HDFS for storage, and others, all capable of launching containers at scale.

DCOS has native support for a number of datacenter technologies, including Spark, Cassandra, Kafka, Hadoop, YARN, HDFS, and Google Kubernetes. Operators can also to deploy third-party and inhouse datacenter services from a public and private repository using a single command.

"Hundreds of companies are using Mesos open source and the tools we built around the ecosystem, which are also open source. What those guys are using at places like Twitter and Airbnb, it's like to they went to Kernel.org and just downloaded the Linux kernel," Hindman said.

"They're using that and they're using some duct tape and some glue to put those pieces together. What we've done at Mesosphere with the DCOS is we've built the OS X that you go download and you get the entire package. They'll continue to be able to use that stuff but it's significantly more difficult to run your software that way."

The Mesosphere product comes with a software development kit, which is designed to speed up the creation of scalable applications with built-in high availability and fault tolerance.

It supports modern versions of Linux, including CentOS, CoreOS, Red Hat, Ubuntu, as well as running on cloud services such as those from Amazon, DigitalOcean, Google, Microsoft, Rackspace and VMware.

A group of large companies in fields ranging from finance to consumer goods are already employing DCOS in and out of production as part of a closed beta scheme.

While Mesosphere is aiming DCOS at the largest 2,000 companies worldwide, a community edition of the platform will be available free, consisting of a mixture of the open-source and proprietary components.

The company says it remains committed to close collaboration with the Mesos open-source project, which Hindman chairs, and to making significant continued contributions.

"We're going to invest heavily in the open-source kernel, Mesos, which is really the foundation for a lot of what we're doing. Everything we do in Mesos will continue to be pushed out open. We work very closely with the open-source community. We have a great relationship with all the big players that are using it and all the engineers that are continuing to contribute to Mesos outside Mesosphere," Hindman said.

"A significant portion of the funding that we've raised will go into building out many of the products and engineering work that are required around the DCOS. There's a lot of work that we want to continue to put into our operating system to enable all the types of features that we take for granted in operating systems today. But it really took a lot of engineering effort to get them to where they are today."

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