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Anyscale, from the creators of the Ray distributed computing project, launches with $20.6M led by a16z

Open source has become a critical building block of modern software, and today a new startup is coming out of stealth to capitalise on one of the newer frontiers in open source: using it to build and manage distributed application environments, an approach being used increasingly to handle large computing projects, such as those involving artificial intelligence or scientific or other complex calculations.

Anyscale, a startup founded by the same team that built the Project Ray open-source distributed programming framework out of UC Berkeley — Robert Nishihara, Philipp Moritz and Ion Stoica, and Berkeley professor Michael I.

The company plans to use the money to build out its first commercial products — details of which are still being kept under wraps but will more generally include the ability to easily scale out a computing project from one laptop to a cluster of machines; and a group of libraries and applications to manage projects.

The funding is partly strategic: Intel is one of the big companies that has been using Ray for its own computing projects, alongside Amazon, Microsoft and Ant Financial.

The problem that Anyscale is solving is a central one to the future of large-scale, involved computing projects: there are an increasing array of problems that are being tackled with computing solutions, but as the complexity of the work involved increases, there is a limit to how much work a single machine (even a big one) can handle.

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