Virtualization Technology News and Information
VMblog Expert Interview: CIQ Closes $26 Million Series A Funding and Talks Rocky Linux and Roadmap


CIQ, a software infrastructure leader that works in every part of the technology stack to develop stable, scalable, and secure solutions for customers and communities, recently announced a $26 million Series A round of venture capital funding led by Two Bear Capital.  CIQ is also the founding sponsor and services partner behind Rocky Linux, the premier community-maintained and freely available enterprise Linux distribution.

To find out more about these things, VMblog spoke with Gregory Kurtzer, Founder and CEO of CIQ.

VMblog:  Tell us a bit about CIQ's mission, and the journey Rocky Linux has been on so far.

Gregory Kurtzer:  CIQ was founded to drive software infrastructure for enterprise organizations. We started this by building a cloud-native, hybrid, federated computing platform when Red Hat announced that CentOS was being EOLed (End Of Life).

This affected us. It affected our customers. And it affected the community at large. Because of my background in the early days of CentOS, I had experience of what we did right, and what could have been done better, and felt as though that experience would be helpful to kick off another Enterprise Linux distribution.

CIQ was the founding support and services partner of the RESF and sponsored the project monetarily on day one. I personally helped by leading and organizing the initiative as teams and leaders developed organically from the many thousands of contributors that wanted to be part of the project.

The Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation was created as a Public Benefits Organization which is driven and controlled by the community via groups of team leads and shared responsibility and ownership of the different pieces.

To be clear, CIQ does not own or control the project or community. Instead, due to the structure we have created, CIQ, as the founding services and support partner to the RESF, must create value for the community and no organization can hold the project hostage. We feel this is the best and most ethical business model for any company leveraging open source software.

We also think about what it takes to make a stable open source project that everyone can always rely on. Stability doesn't come from a single company, not even a very big and established company. Stability comes from many people, many organizations, and many companies, all standing together to provide a collaborative solution.

That is exactly what we have with Rocky Linux and it is why Rocky Linux will stand the test of time and grow to be a stable, foundational component of every datacenter, cloud, and computing resource.

VMblog:  CIQ has raised $26 million in new funding, what will the capital be used for and what's your market valuation?

Kurtzer:  Our Series A valuation was $150mm which is VERY EXCITING! 

This capital raise is going directly to expanding the development teams and customer success. We are hiring!

VMblog:  What's the current demand for a CentOS replacement right now? Who are the players in the market and how does Rocky Linux stack up?

Kurtzer:  The demand is HUGE. Some analyst reports showed CentOS installation numbers as high as 20-25% across the enterprise, data centers, VMs, containers, and cloud. That is a massive number if you think about it, and all of them were stranded when CentOS was EOLed.

Many large enterprise organizations immediately started plans to move to Debian and/or Ubuntu, and I've gotten lots of connections from these organizations who thanked me personally for creating such a compelling solution where they didn't have to uproot their entire infrastructure. Instead the migration to Rocky Linux is absolutely simple and requires no change in tooling or anything else.

There are other Linux solutions, but based on several analyst reports and surveys, Rocky is almost an order of magnitude stronger on uptake than any other Linux distribution. For example, Intersect360 has said that Rocky Linux has a presence on one out of every 5 surveyed respondents. And that is even higher for many HPC use-cases, which seems like Rocky Linux is the plurality leader based on a survey from Advanced Clustering (

To corroborate these numbers, we are seeing a consistent quarter million downloads or more per month which aligns with the thesis that Rocky is the next major enterprise operating system.

VMblog:  What makes Rocky Linux a credible alternative for the enterprise and what's next the development roadmap?  

Kurtzer:  We decided initially that we want Rocky Linux to be a fully compatible participant in the Enterprise Linux family of Linux distributions. The last thing we wanted to do was to bisect the community further than it has already been, so we are maintaining compatibility in a similar way that CentOS did. This absolute compatibility makes it a highly credible solution for all enterprise use-cases.

But there are many organizations that want more there... So we are additionally adding value around different kernel alternatives, various security accreditations like FIPS, buffer overflow blocking (about 40-50% of all critical CVEs), and support services over and above both what the community and even other distribution vendors provide.

From the Rocky side, we have now developed a completely cloud-native operating system build platform called Peridot. Peridot will make it even easier for anyone else who wants to build or extend an Enterprise Linux distribution. That will be released with the release of Rocky v9 which is coming very soon.

VMblog:  Is Rocky Linux winning any fans? What kind of adoption are you seeing? 

Kurtzer:  It took us a little bit to build the necessary infrastructure to reliably and securely build Rocky Linux. We use 100% open source tooling, and have provided all of our scripts and tools back to the community. Everything we've done is built from the ground up for and by the community. There is no corporate owned or controlled infrastructure, so it took us time to get the first version released. Even our secure boot shim was created for the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation directly with no commercial control.

Because of this extreme transparency and desire to do the right thing, we have received massive support from the community and organizations.

One of the funniest and most telling experiences I've had is when I was speaking with an executive of a very large health care provider, as he walks off camera and comes back wearing a Rocky Linux [Early Supporter] tee shirt.

And that isn't it! When I'm walking around town with a Rocky Linux shirt or sweatshirt, and people come up to me and tell me they use it as well, it's super awesome!

The support we've received from organizations, companies, and the community is so humbling. Check out our sponsors and partners (,, we have some of the most amazing support in the community with so many amazing vendors and organizations all coming together to really demonstrate their support for the project. 

Google even just announced that with a partnership with CIQ, they will be supporting Rocky Linux as a first-party Google offering to their customers. That means, they will be supporting Rocky as Google supports their own products!

Google has your back, and we have Google's back.

VMblog:  Apart from innovation around Rocky Linux, how else will your funding be put to good use? What's next, Gregory?

Kurtzer:  We exist for the community and our customers. This capital is going to build the company up, hire the best people in the world, contribute and be part of open source initiatives that help people, and create the technology to drive global hybrid software infrastructure.


Published Thursday, May 12, 2022 7:30 AM by David Marshall
Filed under: ,
There are no comments for this post.
To post a comment, you must be a registered user. Registration is free and easy! Sign up now!
<May 2022>