CoreOS Gets $8M in VC Cash to Bring Web-Scale Computing to the Masses

Startup raises Series A from KPCB, launches commercial version of Linux OS that updates automatically across any number of servers

Jason Verge

July 2, 2014

4 Min Read
CoreOS Gets $8M in VC Cash to Bring Web-Scale Computing to the Masses
The CoreOS bus and crew at GopherCon, a conference for developers who use Go, the language etcd was written in. (Photo: CoreOS)

CoreOS, a startup with a Linux OS distribution that can update simultaneously across massive server deployments, announced an $8 million Series A funding round and the release of CoreOS Managed Linux, a commercial version of the open source technology that comes with support.

The company, which has in the past raised undisclosed sums from Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, pitches its "Operating System as a Service" as a lightweight OS that automatically updates and patches lots of servers at ones, enabling highly resilient massive-scale infrastructure.

"Not a lot of startups go out an build new Linux distros," founder and CEO Alex Polvi joked. "The original premise was around web security, with the amount of folks getting compromised and hacked [so] ridiculous. We started rethinking things as low as we could possibly go – going down to the Linux kernel.

"If we could deliver the OS as a service, providing a continuous stream of patches so you’re always running the latest version, we could improve the backend security of the Internet."

Taking a note from Google Chrome

Polvi used to work in Mozilla, where his focus was on the front end. He noted that around that time in his career, Google Chrome came out with a feature that allowed Google to patch the browser and push out updates automatically.

This revolutionized the front-end web security. Both Firefox and Internet Explorer are also doing the same now.

"So now we have a secure front end," he said. "On the server side, we have nothing like this at all. State of the art is get running and don’t touch it."

CoreOS helps companies build environments where it doesn't matter if an individual machine goes down. "You can reboot any machine and it’s OK," Polvi said. "If you can handle that extreme, you can handle anything."

Last Linux distro server migration you will ever need

“This is a big day for us," Polvi said. "Not only are we announcing funding from one of the top Silicon Valley venture capital firms, we also have worked hard to deliver Managed Linux” said Polvi. “Businesses today can begin to think of CoreOS as an extension of their OS team, and for enterprise Linux customers this is the last migration they will ever need.”

CoreOS has been around for about one year, but this is not Polvi's first foray into entrepreneurship. In 2010 he sold Cloudkick, a cloud server management and monitoring Software-as-a-Service solution, to Rackspace.

CoreOS has already been tested by a lot of companies. "We haven’t shipped our fully production ready version yet, but we’re starting to support people with what we have now," said Polvi. "We’re tackling it; we have the right team in place."

In the short time since inception, it has had over 150 contributors to its GitHub projects with over 5,000 stars collectively on CoreOS projects. The team has contributed features and fixes to other important open source projects, including Docker, Linux Kernel, networkd, systemd and more.

Support from modern infrastructure leaders

CoreOS images are currently available through Google Compute Engine, Rackspace (including the new OnMetal service) and Amazon.

It is also available on Docker 1.0, the container runtime for application packaging that has attracted a lot of buzz recently.

“CoreOS is providing an innovative approach to running Docker on an exceptionally lightweight, easy-to-update, minimal OS, and we can’t wait to see what is in store for the company in the future,” said Solomon Hykes, CTO and founder of Docker.

The Series A round was led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with follow-on investments from existing investors Sequoia and Fuel Capital. The funding will go towards growing the company, product development and managing the increasing global interest in CoreOS.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers general partner Mike Abbott believes that CoreOS is game-changing. “CoreOS is solving infrastructure problems that have plagued the space for years with an operating system that not only automatically updates and patches servers with the latest software, but also provides less downtime, furthering the security and resilience of Internet architecture,” he said.

Scalable infrastructure for the masses

"CoreOS is not your typical Linux distribution," wrote Kelsey Hightower, developer advocate and toolsmith at CoreOS, on Rackspace's blog. "You won’t find a package manager or have to deploy additional automation tools – they’re built in. Our goal is to make sysadmins’ lives easier by making your infrastructure more stable, reliable and resilient, but we don’t stop there. CoreOS raises the bar by providing a platform that enables organizations big and small to easily build highly scalable infrastructures like those used by Internet giants."

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