CoreOS Announces Managed Linux, World’s First “OS-as-a-Service”

CoreOS, the lightweight Linux distribution optimized for massive server deployments, on Monday introduced a new service called Managed Linux that its developers describe as the world’s first OS-as-a-Service.

The announcement of the monthly subscription service comes on the heels of Series A funding in which the commercial entity that distributes CoreOS raised $8.5 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sequoia Capital and Fuel Capital.

“The big announcement today is we are offering some of our first commercial products beyond CoreOS,” Alex Polvi, CoreOS chief executive and co-founder, told CRN.

[Related: Google Offers CoreOS On Compute Engine Cloud]

Managed Linux is a monthly subscription service that offers updates and patches to CoreOS servers, often running as large clusters, through a tool called FastPatch. Subscribers also get CoreUpdate, a control panel and set of APIs for managing those rolling updates themselves.

CoreOS also integrates Docker 1.0, a popular package for deploying and managing the Linux containers that isolate applications.

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“The novel thing about how we are delivering this is that it’s very much like Software-as-a-Service,” Polvi said.

“You get that rolling stream of continuous updates and patches. You’re always running the latest version,” he told CRN.

Managed Linux eliminates the inconvenience, common with other Linux distributions, of performing migrations when new versions of the OS are released, according to Polvi.

While CoreOS is an open-source operating system, the paid service will benefit enterprises that want to hire a company that will be accountable for the process of ensuring they are running the most stable and secure version, he said.

“The technology behind CoreOS is game-changing,” Mike Abbott, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said in a statement.

“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,” Abbott said.

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Managed Linux is available for CoreOS deployments on multiple platforms. The operating system works exactly the same on bare metal servers as it does when hosted on several public clouds, including Amazon, Google and Rackspace.

Polvi said CoreOS is probably most utilized by companies running big deployments on their own on-premises hardware, the typical customers buying Linux subscriptions today.

Because CoreOS is a relatively new project, it’s still distributing through a direct channel. However, that is expected to change down the road, according to Polvi.
“We’re just getting rolling with system integrators. Haven’t fired up a whole channel program yet, but I think it’s inevitable,” he told CRN.
Polvi believes CoreOS, aided by innovative technologies like Docker, is a leader in the larger trend toward warehouse-scale computing, a concept laid out a few years back in an influential research paper from Google.
The theory goes that datacenters will come to behave as individual computers, with massive clusters of servers connected by high-speed networks working in concert to fulfill the computing requirements of the future.

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