Mesosphere Snags OrlyAtomics In Talent Acquisition Deal

Mesosphere bought OrlyAtomics, a database technology company today in what appears to be a straight talent acquisition deal. The four OrlyAtomics engineers will become part of the Mesosphere team immediately.  No terms were available.

Mesosphere, which is based on the open source Mesos project, wants to build what they call a datacenter operating system that allows companies to operate at web scale inside the datacenter while achieving much greater efficiency than is possible using traditional datacenter management techniques. OrlyAtomics is a highly scalable database technology. On the face of it, the two may not seem like a perfect match, but under the surface they have a lot more in common than you might think, Mesosphere co-founder and CEO Florian Leibert told me.

First of all they both have roots in open source and both are written in C++. That means the OrlyAtomics personnel can come in and hit the ground running as they get incorporated into the Mesosphere team, but it was more than just compatibility, Leibert said. The programming skills were important, but their understanding of scalable databases was even more so.

“Managing things at scale and managing the state of distributed systems at the scale we are talking about is inherently difficult,” he explained. He said the guys from OrlyAtomics brought a unique and desirable set of skills. It’s worth noting they didn’t actually buy any of the OrlyAtomics intellectual property, although of course they still have access to the open source project. Patrick Reilly, who was CEO at OrlyAtomics says they will look for ways to incorporate that technology into Mesosphere, even if the database project will play a vastly different role.

“We still love our vision of graph storage and what it can do to help people envision new creative uses of their data, but now we’re building in those capabilities as primitives—and, of course, we have plans for the Orly open source database running on Mesos,” Reilly explained.

Regardless, Leibert said Mesosphere was more interested in the team’s ability to work well together and their expertise than what they actually built. “The product was not directly applicable, but the experience they gained [building it] is valuable to us. It’s really about organizing disorganized states in a big distributed system,” he said.

Since they are both written in C++, Mesosphere believes the OrlyAtomics team can take what they learned from building their product and apply it to the Mesosphere products. “Everything they are working on is about low latency and high throughput. These are the same values we rely on for a massively scaled system,” he said.

And that is precisely what intrigued Reilly’s team. “We love high performance C++. Within the first few hours of diving in we found so many areas where we wanted to meld the code of Orly and Mesos. I’m really excited to help create a world where “apps” consist of thousands of specialized containers running across dozens of datacenters that all coalescence to behave like one massive computer,” he said.

Leibert added they started talking to the Orly team 4 weeks ago, but hinted they have been working at the company for several weeks already and that that was how they determined they would be a good fit. Before adding the four OrlyAtomics employees, Mesosphere had 27 employees and in a small group like this, it was especially important that the new employees fit in.

Leibert said they evaluated them in the same way as any new employees they bring on and they liked what they saw.

Reilly said his team was excited by the scope of the Mesosphere project and what they could bring to it. “Engineers love challenges, and no challenge is more ambitious or ridiculous than building an operating system at the scale of the datacenter. From the moment we first started exploring the Mesosphere codebase it felt just like home,” he said.

For Mesosphere, it was about bringing in a team, they felt could meet their long-term goals. “What we saw was expertise we really needed to have. Specifically, on our road map to build an operating system for the data center, the type of abstractions you need to build, data coordination needs to be a first class citizen and that’s what they were working on,” Leibert said.

OrlyAtomics was an open source project originally started at the social discovery site Tagged, which reportedly has 330M users worldwide. It was born out of a need for massive scalability, which is precisely what made it appealing to Mesosphere.