Akuity launches to be the Argo enterprise company for Kubernetes app delivery

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A new commercial open source company stems from stealth today with $ 4.5 million in seed funding to provide Kubernetes native application delivery software powered by Argo. Its financing was led by Decibel Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm backed by Cisco, with contributions from a wide range of angel backers, including Elastic co-founder and CEO Shay Banon.

Kubernetes has emerged as one of the world’s most popular and powerful open source projects, helping companies improve their software development speed and agility by automating many of the resource-intensive processes involved in managing containerized applications. Containers are software packages that contain all the necessary components for an application to run across environments, from public and hybrid clouds to private data centers.

Originally designed by Google before falling under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Kubernetes is the orchestration platform that enables companies like Box, IBM, Google and Spotify to easily build, test, implement and scale their containerized applications.

An ecosystem of complementary products

As with almost any successful open source project, Kubernetes has created an ecosystem of complementary products and commercial companies, such as Kubernetes operations management platform Rafay, which recently secured $ 25 million in funding. Similarly, Loft Labs, which last month raised $ 4.6 million in seed funding to bring self-service Kubernetes access to all developers, while Nirmata raised $ 3.6 million to “conquer Kubernetes complexity” with an open source policy engine called Kyverno. There is even a startup accelerator and incubator that wants to “serve as a Kubernetes product pipeline” by nurturing and funding open source software development.

It is from this background that Akuity is launching today from the co-creators of Argo, an increasingly popular open source project to orchestrate Kubernetes native application delivery used by large companies including Google, Tesla, GitHub and Intuit.

Argo was developed and open-source back in 2017 by software engineers Hong Wang and Jesse Suen while at Applatix, a Kubernetes company acquired by Intuit the following year. The duo chose to leave Intuit earlier this year to focus all their efforts on developing and commercializing Argo under a new, independent company.

“Intuit will never be an Argo salesperson as it is not part of Intuit’s business model,” Wang told VentureBeat. “Akuity aims to fill that void and become an Argo salesperson given our experience and deep expertise in the project.”

Cubes native

Argo is essentially a collection of projects for managing clusters, running workflows and “getting more done” with Kubernetes. It also provides all the supporting features that a developer may need, including a real-time user interface (UI), command-line interface (CLI) and APIs.

The platform is Argo CD, a Continuous Delivery (CD) tool that will replace older CI / CD systems such as Jenkins, Circle CI or Spinnaker, although it also looks like another Kubernetes native open source project called Flux.

Above: Argo CD

Elsewhere, Argo Rollouts is a Kubernetes controller that includes Canary and Blue-Green deployments that automate the release process for Kubernetes applications by gradually releasing new software versions step by step. In addition to the rollouts, its features are Argo Workflows and Events, which Wang said are designed for batch scheduling and are most often compared to something like Apache Airflow.

But being a Kubernetes native is without a doubt Argo’s central selling point, as it helps companies circumvent clumsy legacy or homemade solutions and transition to Kubernetes with custom-built tools.

“The fact that it’s Kubernetes native is key because using existing tools is like trying to fit a square stick in a round hole, as they always map to older concepts,” Wang said. “Argo does not abstract or hide anything away from developers so they can take full advantage of Kubernetes.”

In terms of what the commercial Argo landscape looks like on Akuity, there will be two important offerings. Akuity Enterprise, available today, includes all elements of the Argo project with enterprise-quality support thrown into the mix, along with a range of tools that “make Argo even more useful and ready for business,” according to Wang. These include disaster recovery (backup / recovery), high availability, notifications, among other automation tools to manage multiple Argo CD applications.

In the future, Akuity will also launch a fully managed and hosted version of the Argo CD, which is currently still under development.

Argos competition

It is worth noting that as an open source project, other commercial and open source projects are already leveraging Argo, such as the open source machine learning platform Kubeflow, which has components built on top of Argo Workflows, while RedHat launched Argo CD-powered OpenShift GitOps back in February. This helps highlight the growing prevalence of Argo across the software development spectrum, but Wang does not consider this to be a problem from a competitive perspective. “We do not think companies will have a particular focus on Argo as Akuity does,” he said.

In addition, Kubernetes is growing beyond its original purpose of running containerized applications, such as managing, implementing and managing cloud infrastructure, while also being used as a “large-scale computing network” to power countless machine learning, AI and computing applications. This puts commercial Kubernetes-focused companies like Akuity in a strong position to grow.

“All of these things require Kubernetes native delivery tools to help implement, monitor and manage these resources, and we feel that Argo is uniquely positioned to facilitate this,” Wang explained.

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