Are there alternatives to mesospheres DCOS

Cloud computing

Mesosphere was founded in March 2013 by the three founders and friends Tobi Knaup, Florian Leibert and Benjamin Hindman in San Francisco. More than $ 120 million in venture capital has now flowed into the company. The most important donors include IT giants such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Microsoft, but also venture capitalists such as Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures and Fuel Capital.

Florian Leibert, CEO and Founder, is "burning" for his product, that quickly became clear in a conversation with the COMPUTERWOCHE editorial team. The first ideas too Mesosphere DC / OS were created in 2010 in San Francisco, where Leibert worked on Twitter and Knaup on Airbnb.

At the time, the news service Twitter had massive server and stability problems. In order to get the company out of the technical difficulties, Leibert worked with Hindman on the introduction of mesos. Convinced of the technology, Kaup also introduced the system at Airbnb in 2013. Inspired by the success, the three friends got together and founded Mesosphere in 2013.

The technology behind DC / OS

Mesosphere DC / OS is a "Data Center Operating System" that is rooted in the Apache Mesos system kernel. It includes a cluster manager, a container platform and an operating system. From an architecture perspective, DC / OS is a cluster platform that executes distributed container software such as apps, jobs or services and thus virtually standardizes data center operations. The operating system is completely separated from the infrastructure layer. The infrastructure can consist of virtual or physical hardware, but should include computing, storage and network components. An Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) stack is also an option here. For Leibert, the infrastructure is a "commodity".

The "Platform Services" that lie above the DC / OS layer are decisive for him. This structure goes beyond Platform as a Service (PaaS), says Leibert. This level can contain, for example, a database, a message queue or machine learning as a service such as TensorFlow or MXNet. Mesosphere maps this on a cross-hardware and cloud basis - for both public and private cloud infrastructures.

The main attraction of the technology is that it is scalable, highly available, fault-tolerant and behaves like a single computer, even though it is made up of several systems. DC / OS takes on the management of resources independently and across systems, manages the internal work processes and facilitates process communication between the systems. For example, if a service requires more computing power, the system automatically allocates more computing instances and vice versa. It also simplifies the installation and administration of system services. The system also supports microservices and container technologies such as Docker.

The communication to the DC / OS stack takes place either via a web interface or an administration-friendly command line interface (CLI). This not only enables the system to be managed remotely, but also to monitor the cluster and its services.

What the software does

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape and the venture capital company Andreessen Horowitz, recognized the potential of Mesosphere and invested heavily in the project. "Back then, Marc asked us: If money were not important, whether we could build a technology that could do the same thing as the platform services from AWS - only much cheaper," said Leibert. The Data Center Operating System DC / OS emerged from this consideration.

In principle, it is a construction kit for modern applications. The basis is a layer with various open source components, which is similar to the platform offerings from AWS, but can be based on any IaaS infrastructure. With Mesosphere or DC / OS, we are able to use open source components to recreate what AWS offers in terms of platform services or what the user wants in terms of services, emphasizes Leibert. Special knowledge is not required, you can simply use the software.

But mesosphere also has its limits. Monolithic applications such as SAP are not suitable for this architecture. However, data generated from these applications can be processed further with a Mesosphere service.

Over 100 technologies are now integrated on DC / OS. In the area of ​​data services, machine learning and AI you can find, for example, Apache Spark, Hadoop, Cassandra, Elastic, Kafka or Alluxio. Jenkins and GitLab are available as development tools for container orchestration, Kubernetes and Marathon can be used.

According to Leibert, the user does not have a vendor lock-in effect with this technology. In addition, customers paid according to the flat rate principle - an "all you can eat" for IT: "You pay an amount and can consume or use as much Cassandra as you want". According to Leibert, the platform services at AWS are proprietary and expensive, so that many companies could not afford to move their databases to the AWS cloud.

Qua Vadis Mesosphere

Mesosphere now has almost 300 employees worldwide. In addition to the headquarters in San Francisco, the company has further branches in New York, Beijing and Hamburg.

The startup relies on partners such as HP, HCL, Dell, Hitachi Data Systems and Microsoft. Other well-known companies are to be added. Mesosphere already has numerous customers in America as well as in Germany, including Verizon Wireless, Time Warner, Ebay, PayPal, Twitter, but also in this country the Federal Employment Agency as well as large automotive groups and suppliers.

Leibert looks confidently into the future, as DC / OS has all the properties that would be expected of an agile and scalable IT infrastructure in the future. The entrepreneur wants to see his software solution continue to grow strongly and in this context does not rule out strategic partnerships or even a takeover. But it is still too early for that. For now, he wants to expand in key markets such as China.

Leibert believes that the digitalization pressure and especially the trend towards Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will help Mesosphere. In the future, more and more computing "at the edge" will be required, for which the platform is ideally suited. In addition, the large carriers favored mini data centers in the distribution centers for the upcoming 5G standard - DC / OS is predestined for this.