Mar
10
2020
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Hitachi Vantara acquires what’s left of Containership

Hitachi Vantara, the wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi that focuses on building hardware and software to help companies manage their data, today announced that it has acquired the assets of Containership, one of the earlier players in the container ecosystem, which shut down its operations last October.

Containership, which launched as part of our 2015 Disrupt New York Startup Battlefield, started as a service that helped businesses move their containerized workloads between clouds, but as so many similar startups, it then moved on to focus solely on Kubernetes and helping enterprises manage their Kubernetes infrastructure. Before it called it quits, the company’s specialty was managing multi-cloud Kubernetes deployments. The company wasn’t able to monetize its Kubernetes efforts quickly enough, though, the company said at the time in a blog post that it has now removed from its website.

Containership enables customers to easily deploy and manage Kubernetes clusters and containerized applications in public cloud, private cloud, and on-premise environments,” writes Bobby Soni, the COO for digital infrastructure at Hitachi Vantara. “The software addresses critical cloud native application issues facing customers working with Kubernetes such as persistent storage support, centralized authentication, access control, audit logging, continuous deployment, workload portability, cost analysis, autoscaling, upgrades, and more.”

Hitachi Vantara tells me that it is not acquiring any of Containership’s customer contracts or employees and has no plans to keep the Containership brand. “Our primary focus is to develop new offerings based on the Containership IP. We do hope to engage with prior customers once our new offerings become commercially available,” a company spokesperson said.

The companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition. Pittsburgh-based Containership only raised about $2.6 million since it was founded in 2014, though, and things had become pretty quiet around the company in the last year or two before its early demise. Chances are then that the price wasn’t all that high. Investors include Birchmere Ventures, Draper Triangle and Innovation Works.

Hitachi Vantara says it will continue to work with the Kubernetes community. Containership was a member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Hitachi never was, but after this acquisition, that may change.

May
28
2019
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The challenges of truly embracing cloud native

There is a tendency at any conference to get lost in the message. Spending several days immersed in any subject tends to do that. The purpose of such gatherings is, after all, to sell the company or technologies being featured.

Against the beautiful backdrop of the city of Barcelona last week, we got the full cloud native message at KubeCon and CloudNativeCon. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which houses Kubernetes and related cloud native projects, had certainly honed the message along with the community who came to celebrate its five-year anniversary. The large crowds that wandered the long hallways of the Fira Gran Via conference center proved it was getting through, at least to a specific group.

Cloud native computing involves a combination of software containerization along with Kubernetes and a growing set of adjacent technologies to manage and understand those containers. It also involves the idea of breaking down applications into discrete parts known as microservices, which in turn leads to a continuous delivery model, where developers can create and deliver software more quickly and efficiently. At the center of all this is the notion of writing code once and being able to deliver it on any public cloud, or even on-prem. These approaches were front and center last week.

At five years old, many developers have embraced these concepts, but cloud native projects have reached a size and scale where they need to move beyond the early adopters and true believers and make their way deep into the enterprise. It turns out that it might be a bit harder for larger companies with hardened systems to make wholesale changes in the way they develop applications, just as it is difficult for large organizations to take on any type of substantive change.

Putting up stop signs

Mar
04
2019
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Scytale grabs $5M Series A for application-to-application identity management

Scytale, a startup that wants to bring identity and access management to application-to-application activities, announced a $5 million Series A round today.

The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners, a return investor that led the company’s previous $3 million round in 2018. Bain Capital Ventures, TechOperators and Work-Bench are also participating in this round.

The company wants to bring to applications and services in a cloud native environment the same kind of authentication that individuals are used to having with a tool like Okta. “What we’re focusing on is trying to bring to market a capability for large enterprises going through this transition to cloud native computing to evolve the existing methods of application to application authentication, so that it’s much more flexible and scalable,” company CEO Sunil James told TechCrunch.

To help with this, the company has developed the open-source, cloud-native project, Spiffe, which is managed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). The project is designed to provide identity and access management for application-to-application communication in an open-source framework.

The idea is that as companies transition to a containerized, cloud-native approach to application delivery, there needs to a smooth automated way for applications and services to very quickly prove they are legitimate, in much the same way individuals provide a username and password to access a website. This could be, for example, as applications pass through API gateways, or as automation drives the use of multiple applications in a workflow.

Webscale companies like Google and Netflix have developed mechanisms to make this work in-house, but it’s been out of reach of most large enterprise companies. Scytale wants to bring to any company this capability to authenticate services and applications.

In addition to the funding announcement, the company announced Scytale Enterprise, a tool that provides a commercial layer on top of the open-source tools the company has developed. The enterprise version helps companies that might not have the personnel to deal with the open-source version on their own by providing training, consulting and support services.

Bain Capital Venture’s Enrique Salem sees a startup solving a big problem for companies that are moving to cloud-native environments and need this kind of authentication. “In an increasingly complex and fragmented enterprise IT environment, Scytale has not only built Spiffe’s amazing open-source community but has also delivered a commercial offering to address hybrid cloud authentication challenges faced by Fortune 500 identity and access management engineering teams,” Salem said in a statement.

Based in the Bay Area, Scytale launched in 2017 and currently has 24 employees.

May
02
2018
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Upbound grabs $9M Series A to automate multi-cloud management

Kubernetes, the open source container orchestration tool, does a great job of managing a single cluster, but Upbound, a new Seattle-based startup wants to extend this ability to manage multiple Kubernetes clusters across multi-cloud environment. It’s a growing requirement as companies deploy ever-larger numbers of clusters and choose a multi-vendor approach to cloud infrastructure services.

Today, the company announced a $9 million Series A investment led by GV (formerly Google Ventures) along with numerous unnamed angel investors from the cloud-native community. As part of the deal, GV’s Dave Munichiello will be joining the company board of directors.

It’s important to note that the company is currently working on the product and could be a year away from a release, but the vision is certainly compelling. As Upbound CEO and founder Bassam Tabbara says, his company’s solution could allow customers to run, scale and optimize their workloads across clusters, regions and clouds as a single entity.

That level of control could enable them to set rules and policies across those clusters and clouds. For example, a customer might control costs by creating a rule to find the cloud with lowest cost for processing a given job, or provide failover control across regions and clouds — all automatically. It would provide the general ability to have highly granular control across multiple environments that isn’t really possible now, Tabarra explained.

That vision of enterprise portability is certainly something that caught the eye of GV’s Munichiello. “Upbound presents a credible approach to multi-cloud computing built on the success of Kubernetes, and as a response to the growing enterprise demand for hybrid and multi-cloud environments,” he said in a statement.

Companies are working with multiple Kubernetes clusters today. As an example, CERN, the European physics organization is running 210 clusters. JD.com, the Chinese shopping site has over 20,000 servers running Kubernetes. The largest cluster is made up of 5000 servers. As these projects scale, they require a tool to help manage their workloads across these larger environments.

The company’s founder isn’t new to cloud-native computing or open source. Tabarra was part of the team responsible for producing the open source project, Rook, an offshoot of Kubernetes and a Cloud Native Computing Foundation Sandbox project.  Rook helps orchestrate distributed storage systems running in cloud native environments in a similar way that Kubernetes does for containerized environments. That project provided some of the ground work for what Upbound is trying to do on a broader scale beyond pure storage.

The computing world is suddenly all about abstraction. We started with virtual machines, which allowed you take an individual server and make it into multiple virtual machines. That led to containers, which could take the same machine in let you launch hundreds of containers. Kubernetes is an open source container orchestration tool that has rapidly gained acceptance by allowing operations to treat a cluster of Kubernetes nodes as a single entity, making it much easier to launch and manage containers.

Upbound launched last Fall and currently has 8 employees, but Tabbara says they are actively seeking new engineers. The nature of their business is about distributed workloads and he says the workforce will be similar. They won’t have to work in Seattle. He says the plan is to use and contribute to open source whenever possible and to open source parts of the product when it’s available.

Oct
31
2017
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IBM Cloud Private brings cloud native computing to your data center

 As companies search for ways to modernize their technology stacks, they struggle with managing the legacy software (and hardware) inside their own data centers. IBM introduced a new private cloud product today that is supposed to ease the transition to cloud computing and containerization and place those legacy applications in a more modern IT management context. IBM Cloud Private wants to… Read More

Sep
13
2017
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Heptio raises $25M Series B to help bring cloud-native computing to the enterprise

 Heptio, the startup founded by Kubernetes co-founders Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, today announced that it has raised a $25 million Series B funding round led by Madrona Venture partners. Lightspeed Venture Partners and Accel Partners also joined in this round, which comes less than a year after the company’s $8.5 million Series A round. Read More

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