Jun
24
2020
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Databricks acquires Redash, a visualizations service for data scientists

Data and analytics service Databricks today announced that it has acquired Redash, a company that helps data scientists and analysts visualize their data and build dashboards around it.

Redash’s customers include the likes of Atlassian, Cloudflare, Mozilla and Soundcloud and the company offers both an open-source self-hosted version of its tools, as well as paid hosted options.

The two companies did not disclose the financial details of the acquisition. According to Crunchbase, Tel Aviv-based Redash never raised any outside funding.

Databricks co-founder CEO Ali Ghodsi told me that the two companies met because one of his customers was using the product. “Since then, we’ve been impressed with the entire team and their attention to quality,” he said. “The combination of Redash and Databricks is really the missing link in the equation — an amazing backend with Lakehouse and an amazing front end built-in visualization and dashboarding feature from Redash to make the magic happen.”

Image Credits: Databricks

For Databricks, this is also a clear signal that it wants its service to become the go-to platform for all data teams and offer them all of the capabilities they would need to extract value from their data in a single platform.

“Not only are our organizations aligned in our open source heritage, but we also share in the mission to democratize and simplify data and AI so that data teams and more broadly, business intelligence users, can innovate faster,” Ghodsi noted. “We are already seeing awesome results for our customers in the combined technologies and look forward to continuing to grow together.”

In addition to the Redash acquisition, Databricks also today announced the launch of its Delta Engine, a new high-performance query engine for use with the company’s Delta Lake transaction layer.

Databricks’ new Delta Engine for Delta Lake enables fast query execution for data analytics and data science, without moving the data out of the data lake,” the company explains. “The high-performance query engine has been built from the ground up to take advantage of modern cloud hardware for accelerated query performance. With this improvement, Databricks customers are able to move to a unified data analytics platform that can support any data use case and result in meaningful operational efficiencies and cost savings.”

Jun
22
2020
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HashiCorp to offer managed versions of its developer tools starting with Consul

HashiCorp is well known in the developer community for offering a slew of open-source tools to help build and manage modern applications. Today the company announced a new cloud platform and plans to eventually offer managed versions of those tools, starting with Consul, a tool for connecting and securing services across platforms.

HashiCorp CEO Dave McJannet says that the pandemic has accelerated demand for cloud infrastructure, and he sees a growing role for his company in helping to build cloud native applications. The company offers open-source and commercial versions of several popular tools, including Terraform, Consul, Vault and Packer, among others. These can run on premises or in the cloud, but McJannet says customers have been hankering for SaaS versions of these tools.

“Our customers have told us that it’s a huge challenge running a central shared service like Consul. It requires them to keep it up and running, and they have asked for something they can consume from us where we manage it for them,” McJannet told TechCrunch.

The company has been offering a managed version of Terraform for some time, but it has been quietly working on a cloud platform that could allow it to plug in each of the company’s products over time and offer managed services of all the products.

“What we are announcing today is what we call the HashiCorp Cloud Platform, and you can think of it as just a common chassis to allow us to run our products on any cloud. The first of those products that we’re making available is Consul on Amazon,” he said.

By offering the company’s products as a set of cloud services, it will lower the barrier to entry for customers who want to use their tooling, but don’t have the resources to run and manage on their own. That could potentially increase the company revenue over time. As McJannet pointed out, it’s a lot like what MongDB did with its managed Atlas database service, but for a wider set of products.

Last Fall, HashiCorp announced a $175 million investment on an impressive $5 billion valuation. It has 1,000 employees and is continuing to hire as demand for its product continues through the pandemic. McJannet was not discussing specific customer numbers, but said the customer count has doubled over the last year. As it builds out the new cloud services, and introduces more customers to its products, there’s a good chance that number will keep growing.

Jun
17
2020
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Loodse becomes Kubermatic and open-sources Kubernetes automation platform

Loodse, a German Kubernetes automation platform, announced today that it was rebranding as Kubermatic. While it was at it, the company also announced that it was open-sourcing its Kubermatic Kubernetes Platform as open source under the Apache 2.0 License.

Co-founder Sebastian Scheele says that his company’s Kubernetes solution can provision clusters and applications on any cloud, as well as in a data center running, for example, OpenStack or VMware. What’s more, it can do it much faster by automating much of the operations side of running Kubernetes clusters.

“We wanted to really have a cloud native way to run and manage Kubernetes. And so it’s running the Kubernetes master itself, which is completely containerized on top of Kubernetes, rather than being run on VMs. This helps provide you with better scalability, but also because it’s running on Kubernetes, we get all of the resilience and auto scaling out of Kubernetes itself,” Scheele told TechCrunch.

He says that he and his co-founder Julian Hansert have always had a strong commitment to open source, and offering Kubermatic platform under the Apache 2.0 license is a way to show that to the community. “One of the big [things] we can bring to the table is making Kubermatic completely open source, while following the Open-core model, and having a strong commitment to open source to the world and also to the community,” he said.

Image Credit: Kubermatic

As for why it’s rebranding, he says that the original company name is a German word that means navigation pilot for a ship. The name is a nod to its Hamburg base, which is a hub for container ships. It makes sense to Germans, but not others, so they wanted a name that more broadly reflected what the company does.

“Now that we are open-sourcing Kubermatic, we also thought that people should understand our vision and what’s our DNA. It’s Kubernetes automation, helping our customers to really save money on Kubernetes operations by automating as much as possible on the operation level, so our users can really focus on building new applications,” he explained.

The company launched four years ago and has taken no funding, completely bootstrapping along the way. It’s worth noting it was one of the top five committers to the open-source Kubernetes project in 2019, along with much bigger names including Google, VMware, Red Hat and Microsoft.

Today the company has 50 employees, most of whom are working remotely by choice, rather than due to the pandemic. In fact, the company has employees working in 10 different countries. He says that has allowed him to work with people with a broad set of skills, who don’t necessarily live in Hamburg where he and Hansert are based.

Jun
09
2020
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Yugabyte lands $30M Series B as open source database continues to flourish

It’s been a big period of positive change for Yugabyte, makers of the open source, cloud native YugabyteDB database. Just last month they brought on former Pivotal president Bill Cook as CEO, and today the company announced it has closed a $30 million Series B.

8VC and strategic investor WiPro led the round with participation from existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Dell Technologies Capital. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $55 million, according to the company.

The startup also announced that former Pivotal co-founder Scott Yara would be joining the company’s board. Along with Cook, that brings a distinct Pivotal influence to the company.

Kannan Muthukkaruppan, who was CEO, now holds the title of president. He says that the company has built “a fully open source, high performance distributed SQL database meant for transactional workloads in the cloud.”

Today, in addition to the open source product, it offers a private Database as a Service platform to enterprise customers. This can run on a variety of platforms including public, private, or hybrid cloud or Kubernetes infrastructure. The company also offers a fully managed cloud service, which is currently available on AWS and Google Cloud Platform with Azure support coming in the future.

The founders have quite a pedigree. Muthukkaruppan spent 13 years at Oracle helping build Oracle’s relational engine. Then he moved onto Facebook in the early days where he met co-founders Karthik Ranganathan and Mikhail Bautin. The founding team worked on database technology that helped scale Facebook from 40 million users to over a billion.

It was that background that really caught the attention of Cook. “First of all, there’s a huge market opportunity here that we think we fit into, and it is unique in the sense of the pedigree that this team has, and what they built and the expertise they have across that whole spectrum of being able to scale and have [a database that is] performant across [geographic] zones,” he said.

As the company gets this investment, it’s not only a period of change inside the organization, it is against the backdrop of the worldwide pandemic and economic fallout from that event, but Muthukkaruppan sees momentum here in spite of the macro conditions.

“With COVID-19, we actually saw an increased sense of urgency across many enterprises, wanting to move businesses to the cloud and improve their operational and go-to-market efficiency around the product that they were bringing to market,” he said. He believes that the company’s database can be a key part of that.

The company currently has 50 employees, but sees doubling that number in the next 12-18 months as interest in the products continues to grow. Cook says the company has a diverse workforce today, and he will continue to build on that in his hiring practices.

“The more inclusive you can be ties to all our principles and values [as a company] already so we’re not changing how we operate,” he says. He says diversity is not only the right thing to do from a human perspective, it also makes good business sense to have a diverse workforce.

May
13
2020
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VMware to acquire Kubernetes security startup Octarine and fold it into Carbon Black

VMware announced today that it intends to buy early-stage Kubernetes security startup Octarine and fold it into Carbon Black, a security company it bought last year for $2.1 billion. The company did not reveal the price of today’s acquisition.

According to a blog post announcing the deal, from Patrick Morley, general manager and senior vice president at VMware’s Security Business Unit, Octarine should fit in with what Carbon Black calls its “intrinsic security strategy” — that is, protecting content and applications wherever they live. In the case of Octarine, that is cloud native containers in Kubernetes environments.

“Acquiring Octarine enables us to advance intrinsic security for containers (and Kubernetes environments), by embedding the Octarine technology into the VMware Carbon Black Cloud, and via deep hooks and integrations with the VMware Tanzu platform,” Morley wrote in a blog post.

This also fits in with VMware’s Kubernetes strategy, having purchased Heptio, an early Kubernetes company started by Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, two folks who helped develop Kubernetes while at Google before starting their own company,

We covered Octarine last year when it released a couple of open-source tools to help companies define the Kubernetes security parameters. As we quoted head of product Julien Sobrier at the time:

Kubernetes gives a lot of flexibility and a lot of power to developers. There are over 30 security settings, and understanding how they interact with each other, which settings make security worse, which make it better, and the impact of each selection is not something that’s easy to measure or explain.

As for the startup, it now gets folded into VMware’s security business. While the CEO tried to put a happy face on the acquisition in a blog post, it seems its days as an independent entity are over. “VMware’s commitment to cloud native computing and intrinsic security, which have been demonstrated by its product announcements and by recent acquisitions, makes it an ideal home for Octarine,” the company CEO Shemer Schwarz wrote in the post.

Octarine was founded in 2017 and has raised $9 million, according to PitchBook data.

May
06
2020
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Confluent introduces scale on demand for Apache Kafka cloud customers

We find ourselves in a time when certain businesses are being asked to scale to levels they never imagined. Sometimes that increased usage comes in bursts, which means you don’t want to pay for permanent extra capacity you might not always need. Today, Confluent introduced a new scale-on-demand feature for its Apache Kafka cloud service that will scale up and down as needed, automatically.

Confluent CEO Jay Kreps says that elasticity is arguably one of the most important features of cloud computing, and this ability to scale up and down is one of the primary factors that has attracted organizations to the cloud. By automating that capability, they give DevOps one less major thing to worry about.

“This new functionality allows users to dynamically scale Kafka and the other key ecosystem components like KSQL and Kafka Connect. This is a key missing capability that no other service provides,” Kreps explained.

He points out that this is particularly relevant right now with people working at home. Systems are being taxed more than perhaps ever before, and this automated elasticity is going to come in handy, making it more cost-effective and efficient than was previously possible.

“These capabilities let customers add capacity as they need it, or scale down to save money, all without having to pre-plan in advance,” he said.

The new elasticity feature in Confluent is part of a series of updates to the platform, known as Project Metamorphosis, that Confluent is planning to roll out throughout this year on a regular basis.

“Through the rest of the year we’ll be doing a sequence of releases that bring the capabilities of modern cloud data systems to the Kafka ecosystem in Confluent Cloud. We’ll be announcing one major capability each month, starting with elasticity,” he said.

Kreps first announced Metamorphosis last month when the company also announced a massive $250 million funding round on a $4.5 billion valuation. In spite of the current economic situation, driven by the ongoing pandemic, Confluent plans to continue to build out the product, as today’s announcement attests.

May
05
2020
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Cockroach Labs scores $86.6M Series D as scalable database resonates

Cockroach Labs, the NYC enterprise database company, announced an $86.6 million Series D funding round today. The company was in no mood to talk valuations, but was happy to have a big chunk of money to help build on its recent success and ride out the current economic malaise.

Altimeter Capital and Bond co-led the round with participation from Benchmark, GV, Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Capital and FirstMark Capital. Today’s funding comes on top of a $55 million Series C last August, and brings the total raised to $195 million, according to the company.

Cockroach has a tough job. It’s battling both traditional databases like Oracle and modern ones from the likes of Amazon, but investors see a company with a lot of potential market building an open source, on prem and cloud database product. In particular, the open source product provides a way to attract users and turn some percentage of those into potential customers, an approach investors tend to favor.

CEO and co-founder Spenser Kimball says that the company had been growing fast before the pandemic hit. “I think the biggest change between now and last year has just been our go to market which is seeing pretty explosive growth. By number of customers, we’ve grown by almost 300%,” Kimball told TechCrunch.

He says having that three-pronged approach of open source, cloud an on-prem products has really helped fuel that growth. The company launched the cloud service in 2018, and it has helped expand its market. Whereas the on-prem version was mostly aimed at larger customers, the managed service puts Cockroach in reach of individual developers and teams who might not want to deal with all of the overhead of managing a complex database on their own.

Kimball says it’s really too soon to say what impact the pandemic will have on his business. He recognizes that certain verticals like travel, hospitality and some retail business are probably going to suffer, but other businesses that are accelerating in the crisis could make use of a highly scalable database like CockroachDB.

“Obviously it’s a new world right now. I think there are going to be some losers and some winners, but on balance I think [our] momentum will continue to grow for something that really does represent a best in class solution for businesses, whether they are startups or big enterprises, as they’re trying to figure out how to build for a cloud native future,” Kimball said.

The company intends to keep hiring through this, but is being careful and regularly evaluating what its needs are much more carefully than it might have done prior to this crisis with a much more open mind toward remote work.

Kimball certainly recognizes that it’s not an easy time to be raising this kind of cash, and he is grateful to have the confidence of investors to keep growing his company, come what may.

Apr
21
2020
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Confluent lands another big round with $250M Series E on $4.5B valuation

The pandemic may feel all-encompassing at the moment, but Confluent announced a $250 million Series E today, showing that major investment continues in spite of the dire economic situation at the moment. The company is now valued at $4.5 billion.

Today’s round follows last year’s $125 million Series D. At that point the company was valued at a mere $2.5 billion. Investors obviously see a lot of potential here.

Coatue Management led the round, with help from Altimeter Capital and Franklin Templeton. Existing investors Index Ventures and Sequoia Capital also participated. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $456 million.

The company is based on Apache Kafka, the open-source streaming data project that emerged from LinkedIn in 2011. Confluent launched in 2014 and has gained steam, funding and gaudy valuations along the way.

CEO and co-founder Jay Kreps reports that growth continued last year when sales grew 100% over the previous year. A big part of that is the cloud product the company launched in 2017. It added a free tier last September, which feels pretty prescient right about now.

But the company isn’t making money giving stuff away, so much as attracting users, who can become customers at some point as they make their way through the sales funnel. The beauty of the cloud product is that you can buy by the sip.

The company has big plans for the product this year. Although Kreps was loath to go into detail, he says that there will be a series of changes coming up this year that will add significantly to the product’s capabilities.

“As part of this we’re going to have a major new set of capabilities for our cloud service, and for open-source Kafka, and for our product that we’re going to announce every month for the rest of the year,” Kreps told TechCrunch. These will start rolling out the first week in May.

While he wouldn’t get specific, he says that it relates to the changing nature of cloud infrastructure deployment. “This whole infrastructure area is really evolving as it moves to the cloud. And so it has to become much, much more elastic and scalable as it really changes how it works. And we’re going to have announcements around what we think are the core capabilities of event streaming in the cloud,” he said.

While a round this big with a valuation this high and an institutional investor like Franklin Templeton involved typically means an IPO could be the next step, Kreps was not ready to talk about that, except to say the company does plan to begin behaving in the cadence of a public company with a set of quarterly earnings, just not for public consumption yet.

The company was founded in 2014. It has 1,000 employees and has plans to continue to hire and to expand the product. Kreps sees plenty of opportunity here in spite of the current economics.

“I don’t think you want to just turtle up and hang on to your existing customers and not expand if you’re in a market that’s really growing. What really got this round of investors excited is the fact that we’re onto something that has a huge market, and we want to continue to advance, even in these really weird uncertain times,” he said.

Apr
08
2020
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Mozilla names long-time chairwoman Mitchell Baker as CEO

Mozilla Corporation announced today that it has chosen long-time chairwoman Mitchell Baker to be CEO, replacing Chris Beard, who announced last August he would be stepping down at the end of the year.

Baker represents a logical choice to lead the company. At a time of great turmoil in the world at large, she brings the stability of someone who has been with Mozilla Corporation since 2003. Writing in a company blog post, she certainly recognized the challenges ahead, navigating the current economic uncertainty and the competitive challenges the company faces with its flagship Firefox browser.

“It’s a time of challenge on many levels, there’s no question about that. Mozilla’s flagship product remains excellent, but the competition is stiff. The increasing vertical integration of internet experience remains a deep challenge. It’s also a time of need, and of opportunity. Increasingly, numbers of people recognize that the internet needs attention,” Baker wrote.

Baker has been acting as interim CEO since December when Beard officially left the company. In a blog post from the board announcing Baker’s official new title, they certainly recognized that it would take someone with her unique combination of skills and experience to guide the company through this next phase.

“Mitchell’s deep understanding of Mozilla’s existing businesses gives her the ability to provide direction and support to drive this important work forward,” they wrote. Adding, “And her leadership style grounded in openness and honesty is helping the organization navigate through the uncertainty that COVID-19 has created for Mozillians at work and at home.”

Mozilla Corporation was founded in 1998 and is best known for its flagship, open-source Firefox browser. The company faces stiff competition in the browser market from Google, Apple and Microsoft.

Apr
07
2020
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Cloud Foundry Foundation executive director Abby Kearns steps down to pursue a new executive role elsewhere

The Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF), the home of the Cloud Foundry open-source developer platform, today announced that its executive director Abby Kearns is stepping down from her role to pursue an executive role elsewhere.

If you’ve followed the development of the CFF for a while, it won’t come as a surprise that its current CTO, Chip Childers, is stepping into the executive director role. For the last few years, Kearns and Childers shared duties hosting the foundation’s bi-annual conferences and were essentially the public faces of the organization.

Both Kearns and Childers stepped into their roles in 2016 after CFF founding CEO Sam Ramji departed the organization for a role at Google . Before joining the Cloud Foundry Foundation, Kearns worked on Pivotal Cloud Foundry and spent over eight years as head of product management for integration services at Verizon (which, full disclosure, is also the corporate parent of TechCrunch).

Today, according to its own data, the Linux Foundation-based Cloud Foundry project is used by more than half the Fortune 500 enterprises. And while some use the open-source code to run and manage their own Cloud Foundry platforms, most work with a partner like the now VMware-owned Pivotal.

“I am tremendously proud of Cloud Foundry and of the Foundation we have all built together,” said Kearns in today’s announcement. “Cloud Foundry offers the premier developer experience for the cloud native landscape and has seen massive adoption in the enterprise. It also has one of the strongest, kindest, most diverse communities (and staff) in open source. I leave the organization in the best hands possible. Chip was the first Foundation staff member and has served as CTO for more than four years. There is literally nobody else in the world more qualified for this job.”

During her role as executive director, Kearns helped shepherd the project through a number of changes. The most important of those was surely the rise of Kubernetes and containers in general, which quickly changed the DevOps landscape. Unlike other organizations, the CFF adapted to these changing times and started integrating these new technologies. Over the course of the last two years, the Cloud Foundry community started to deeply integrate these cloud-native technologies into its own platform, despite the fact that the community had already built its own container orchestration system in the past.

As Childers told me last year, though, the point of Cloud Foundry isn’t any specific technology, though. Instead, it’s about the developer experience. Ideally, the developers who use it don’t have to care about the underlying infrastructure and can simply integrate it into their DevOps workflow. With a lot of the recent technical changes behind it,

“We as a Foundation are turning the page to a new chapter; raising the profiles of our technical contributors, highlighting the community’s accomplishments and redefining the Cloud Foundry platform as the best Kubernetes experience for enterprise developers,” said Childers today. “Abby has done a tremendous job leading the Foundation through a period of massive growth and upheaval in the cloud native world. Her leadership was instrumental in building Cloud Foundry as a leading cloud development tool.”

As the CFF also today announced, Paul Fazzone, SVP Tanzu R&D at VMware, has been named Chairman of the Board of Directors, where he replaces Dell EMC global CTO John Roese.

“This next chapter for Cloud Foundry will be a shift forward in focusing on evolving the technology to a Kubernetes-based platform and supporting the diverse set of contributors who will make that outcome possible,” said Fazzone. “In my new role as Chairman of the Board, I look forward to helping guide the Foundation toward its goal of expanding and bolstering the ecosystem, its community and its core of users.”

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