You may never have heard of Mesosphere, but chances are you'll be hearing more soon. The San Francisco-based startup just closed $10.5 million in series A funding from heavy-weight backers Andreessen Horowitz, Data Collective and Fuel Capital. What's the attraction? Mesophere claims that "scale is broken" in the data center and cloud and it has a solution to fix the problem.
Founded by engineers from Twitter and Airbnb, Mesosphere produces software based on open-source Apache Mesos to help organizations manage their data centers and cloud resources as easily if they resided on a single machine.
“Mesosphere is driving the next-generation data center defined by companies like Google and Twitter,” said Peter Levine, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz and former CEO of Xensource, a virtualization pioneer. “Growing numbers of companies are building reliable and high-performance data centers using Mesos software. This is the direction of the new data center and the shift will be as transformational as virtualization has been over the past decade.”
Look Who’s Powered by Mesos
Here’s some context: Twitter runs its private data centers on Mesos, which has largely eliminated the “Fail Whale" message that appears when the site goes down. Airbnb and HubSpot also manage their Amazon cloud infrastructures with Mesos. What’s more, eBay, Netflix, OpenTable, PayPal, and Shopify are among the big brands that are “powered by Mesos.”
The simplest way to describe what Mesosphere does is this: it treats an enterprise data center just like it’s one giant computer. With this approach, Apache Mesos can optimize how datacenter resources are used, as well as simplify application development and automate IT operations. All this, the company insists, adds up to fault tolerance, better server utilization at virtually any scale, as well as lower total cost of ownership.
As a practical example, Mesos gives developers command-line and API access to compute clusters so they can deploy and scale applications -- without putting in tickets with IT. On the operations side, Mesos promises to abstract and automate difficult low-level tasks related to deploying and managing services, virtual machines, and containers in scale-out cloud and data center environments.
Real Engineering Muscle
“Managing your data center as if it’s a single computer is the holy grail of cloud computing, and Mesosphere actually delivers on that compelling vision,” said Brad Silverberg, a Mesosphere investor and former top Microsoft executive who led the company’s Windows, Office and Internet platform business units. “Managing your data center as if it’s a single computer is a concept that’s been heavily exploited by marketers over the last 20 years, but Mesos is the first technology that actually executes the vision.”
Mesos traces its roots as an open-source project back to the UC Berkeley AMPLab. Benjamin Hindman, a graduate student there, created it. Twitter soon discovered it and deployed it into production. Mesosphere’s seed funding round included $2.25 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Foundation Capital and SV Angel.
“Companies that set out to handle scale as efficiently as Google typically stall out because they don’t have enough engineering muscle or tools to orchestrate compute resources at this level of sophistication and automation,” said Florian Leibert, co-founder and CEO at Mesosphere.
Leibert is convinced that, “the most efficient path to cloud computing is to run on top of Mesos, and Mesosphere is unlocking that opportunity and making it more applicable for mainstream enterprise developer and ops teams.” And plenty of big names seem to agree with him.