interview CIQ, founding sponsor and services partner of Rocky Linux – a community build of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) – receives a $26 million private funding injection led by Two Bear Capital.
The announcement comes after Red Hat finally announced RHEL 9 this week, which will be generally available in the “coming weeks”. The milestone is significant because Rocky Linux came in the wake of Red Hat’s confirmation that it would drop CentOS in favor of CentOS Stream by the end of 2020.
As we pointed out at the time, CentOS Stream is a free community distribution, but it’s a development build, only marginally ahead of the production version of RHEL, making it unsuitable for live production.
The registry spoke to CentOS project co-founder Gregory Kurtzer, who created Rocky Linux with the goal of being fully compatible (warts and all) with RHEL. Kurtzer is also the founder and CEO of CIQ.
“The first thing we focused on wasn’t building the operating system, but building the infrastructure to build the operating system,” explains Kurtzer The registry“because this infrastructure is so critical.
Rocky Linux has since released two releases, version 8.4 and 8.5, each narrowing the gap between RHEL’s release date and its own. However, there was a long gap between Rocky Linux’s latest announcement and that initial release.
“We built the infrastructure from the ground up, all within the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation, all fully owned and managed by the community,” he says.
“CIQ obviously helped,” he adds, “but we mostly helped with funding, and then basically, you know, in some time as an engineer, but most of that actually came from the community.”
Rocky Linux is built in a cloud-native manner (instead of using the old on-premises cluster approach) and uses a build system called Peridot. “We’re going to do the open sourcing and release it all at the same time as the operating system,” says Kurtzer.
Which is great, but we’re pretty sure the investors led by Two Bear Capital want more bang for their buck than the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with the backing of a worthy open source company.
“We’re building next-generation customer service,” says Kurtzer. Rather than slavishly focusing on tickets and permissions, “we’d rather focus on people.”
“We believe in helping customers and helping them solve problems and working with them,” he says, adding that it’s “not an organization that’s like, ‘What do we have to do to get the job done receive?’ deals.”
We can’t imagine who Kurtzer might be thinking of. However, Kurtzer is keen to emphasize the community ownership of Rocky Linux. However, the cash will be helpful.
“Where does this money go?” He asked, “Are we going to help help the community? Are we going to put that back into Rocky?
CentOS Stream: “I was slow to pick up, but now I understand what they’re doing,” says Rocky Linux founder
“And the answer is yes, to pretty much all of the above.”
CIQ is also a player in the world of High Performance Computing (HPC) with a stack ranging from bare metal deployment to containers, orchestration and federated computing.
It recently partnered with Google Cloud to make Rocky Linux a direct first-party offering from Google.
Speaking of Two Bear Capital, Michael Goguen, Founder and Managing Partner of Two Bear Capital (and now a member of CIQ’s Board of Directors), said, “We’re seeing the Linux landscape change for businesses as customers embrace the best technology from open source demand community without sacrificing enterprise-class responsive support and security.” ®