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Red Hat moves tectonic plates, buys Core OS

Copyright: Swapnil Bhartiya
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“The next era of technology is being driven by container-based applications that span multi- and hybrid cloud environments, including physical, virtual, private cloud and public cloud platforms. Kubernetes, containers and Linux are at the heart of this transformation, and, like Red Hat, CoreOS has been a leader in both the upstream open source communities that are fueling these innovations and its work to bring enterprise-grade Kubernetes to customers.” –  Paul Cormier, president, Products and Technologies, Red Hat.


Red Hat is acquiring Core OS, one of the most innovative and disruptive startups in the container space, for $250 million.

Core OS was founded by Brandon Philips and Alex Polvi in 2013. Core OS was the first company that introduced an enterprise solution based Kubernetes (Tectonic).

An innovative & disruptive company

Core OS has been a major disrupter in the distributed system space. They created many technologies that changed the computing landscape.

Container OS: They created Container OS (formerly Core OS) that defied the conventional wisdom followed by enterprise Linux distributions of ‘don’t fix if it’s not broken’. Unlike LTS releases, Container Linux introduced the atomic update approach that also formed the foundation of GIFEE (Google’s Infrastructure for Everyone Else). Later, all three major Linux vendors – Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical – introduced their own distributions that offered atomic updates.

Rkt: CoreOS created its own standard based container engine rkt that competes with Docker engine. It was created after Core OS failed to influence Docker to address some of the concerns they had with the Docker engine.

Etcd: Brandon calls it the brains of Kubernetes. Etcd is a distributed key value store that provides a reliable way to store data across a cluster of machines.

Tectonic: Core OS was the first company to introduce a Kubernetes based enterprise solution called Tectonic.

In addition to these disruptive technologies, Core OS also created Quay, a container registry solution and Clair, a tool for the static analysis of vulnerabilities in application containers.

When asked what makes Core OS so disruptive and innovative, Brandon Philips, the co-founder and CTO of the company told me that their secret sauce is “just being a couple of years ahead of the curve.” He pointed out that besides virtual machines there is no other technology that all major cloud providers agree upon. Kubernetes is the only exception that has been embraced by virtually everyone.

“It really goes back to us working really closely with the early pioneers and customers who were working on these technologies and thinking hard about what it looks like two or three years out for these customers and these users. We guess that’s been our laser focus from the very beginning,” said Philips.

Red Hat is now acquiring all of that technology talent pool and product portfolio. In fact Red Hat and Core OS are among the leading contributors to Kubernetes . They have already been working together. They complement each other.

Red Hat & Core OS are a perfect match

With this acquisition, Red Hat gets a Kubernetes powerhouse and Core OS gets a well known Open Source player that believes in upstream first. Most Core OS technologies are Open Source, and whatever closed source pieces it has, may eventually get open sourced under Red Hat.

It’s good news for the Kubernetes ecosystem as well as customers. Core OS customer base includes Ticketmaster, Campaign Monitor, Concur, eBay, Salesforce, and more. Over time, Red Hat will integrate Core OS products with its own offerings.

Red Hat said that CoreOS will continue to honor subscriptions and provide service and support as required through and following the closing of the acquisition.

“We believe this acquisition cements Red Hat as a cornerstone of hybrid cloud and modern app deployments,” said Paul Cormier, president, Products and Technologies, Red Hat.

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