Mesosphere open sources DC/OS data center management platform

The startup is backed in this move by over 60 tech companies, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Microsoft

Cloud computing startup Mesosphere has decided to open source its platform for managing data center resources, with the backing of over 60 tech companies, including Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cisco Systems.

Derived from its Datacenter Operating System, a service that Mesosphere set out to build as an operating system for all servers in a data center as if they were a single pool of resources,  the open source DC/OS offers capabilities for container operations at scale and single-click, app-store-like installation of over 20 complex distributed systems, including HDFS, Apache Spark, Apache Kafka and Apache Cassandra, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

DC/OS is built around the Apache Mesos kernel for distributed systems of different kinds like analytics, file systems and Web servers, which Mesosphere founder  Benjamin Hindman and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley developed in 2009.

But the minimalist approach used to develop Mesos proved inadequate when it came to running most applications as other functionality such as service discovery, load balancing, user/service authentication and authorization, and command-line and user interfaces had to come from components that run alongside or on top of Mesos, Hindman said in a blog post.

The strategy was that Mesos and the components would equal the data center operating system. “While this remains a solid approach to keeping Mesos nimble, it also meant that each organization that was adopting Mesos had to build its own implementation of all these components,” Hindman wrote.

But this model didn’t really go according to the plan the founders of Mesosphere had in 2013, which was to build a complete data center operating system that had Mesos at the core and didn’t require Mesos users to “reinvent and reimplement each of the necessary components themselves.”

“By open sourcing DC/OS we're enabling organizations of all sizes to harness the same computing infrastructure as the Twitters and Apples of the world," Hindman said. While Mesos will continue to add and improve upon its OS-like primitives such as upcoming support for external storage volumes and a universal containerizer, DC/OS will continue to focus on complementary features like service discovery, load balancing, privacy and ease of installation, he added.

While some of the technologies in DC/OS such as Mesos were already open source, others such as the GUI and the Minuteman load balancer were proprietary technologies developed by Mesosphere.

Some of the components that Mesosphere built as part of its Data Center Operating System, and are included in DC/OS are Marathon, a container orchestrator platform, Universe that provides an app store like experience for deploying distributed systems and additional management components, tools for operating the DC/OS from the Web or command line, and GUI based installers for on-premise and cloud.

Microsoft said it had made DC/OS a key component of its new Azure Container Service, which entered general availability on Tuesday.

Mesosphere recently closed a US$73.5 million in a Series C funding round that was led by HPE, with Microsoft as a strategic investor. The investment took Mesosphere’s total funding to nearly $126 million.

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