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Could you make a Google-grade data center OS? For $10.5m?

Apache Mesos startup rakes in cash to bring megacloud guts to private server barns

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The starting gun has been fired on the race to build the fundamental software for modern cloud data centers, and Mesosphere is running ahead with an armful of dollar bills.

The company announced on Monday that venture capitalists had thrown $10.5m at it to help it share the inner secrets of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook's data centers with the world.

Mesosphere builds services and technologies based around Apache Mesos, an open source project that gives companies some of the same data center capabilities as Google.

The company announced on Monday that top VC firm Andreessen Horowitz has led a $10.5m Series A round along with investors Data Collective and Fuel Capital. Mesosphere previously raised $2.25m in a seed round.

What Mesos (and some of Mesosphere's add-ons) amount to is an operating system for thousands upon thousands of servers, making it as easy for companies to run multiple bits of software in raucous, changing IT environments as it is for a modern computer operating system to support multiple applications and share resources between them without the user noticing.

Mesos was first created by a team at UC Berkeley, but it quickly caught the eye of Twitter, which hired its creator, Benjamin Hindman. Since then, Twitter has been a significant developer and user of the tech.

"We partner with Twitter as part of the Apache Mesos community," a Mesosphere spokesperson told El Reg via email. "One of the most important aspects of Mesos is that it is purpose-built to be 'pluggable,' creating opportunities for companies to build commercial products that augment the open source and eliminate the need to create fragmentation via forking."

The inspiration for the creation of Mesos was a secret Google system named Borg. Borg was created to deal with some of the chaotic "emergent behavior" that Google had started to see in its millions of computers.

Mesos uses Linux containerization to provide "a cluster manager that provides efficient resource isolation and sharing across distributed applications, or frameworks. It can run Hadoop, Jenkins, Spark, Aurora, and other applications on a dynamically shared pool of nodes," according to its website.

Besides Mesos, Mesophere has created add-on technologies like Marathon, which makes it easier for admins to manage and run long-lived apps on the tech, among others.

The technology has many similarities to secret systems deployed at companies such as Google (Borg/Omega), Facebook (Tupperware), and Microsoft (Autopilot), and expensive – and arguably less sophisticated – commercial software like IBM's Platform Resource Scheduler. The key difference is that where these technologies are closed, Mesos is open.

The company plans to use the funding to "invest heavily in the open source Mesos, while also building products and services that plug into and add value to Mesos – making it consumable by virtually any size/type of company," the spokesperson said.

Some of Mesosphere's customers include Airbnb, Twitter, and HubSpot. ®

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