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Buoyant raises $10 million to manage cloud apps with network meshes

Buoyant, a San Francisco company developing an open source mesh for cloud applications, today announced that it has raised $10 million in a funding round led by GV (formerly Google Ventures), with participation from existing investors Benchmark and A Capital. This comes after a $10.5 million series A round in July 2017, bringing the company’s total venture capital raised to over $24 million, and it will be used to “further propel” its solution’s features and community growth, according to CEO and cofounder William Morgan.

“[Our] momentum has never been higher than it is now, in large part because of users who are frustrated by the complexity and big-vendor nature of other service mesh projects,” Morgan said. “Our focus … is 100 percent on solving real problems and minimizing complexity, not on pushing a particular cloud provider agenda or building technology for technology’s sake.”

Buoyant — which Morgan cofounded with fellow Twitter infrastructure engineer Oliver Gould in 2015 — created, maintains, and contributes to Linkerd, an Apache-licensed, Rust-based network proxy designed to be deployed as a service atop Google’s Kubernetes and other container orchestrators. It’s a lightweight (less than 10MB) abstract layer for managing, controlling, and monitoring interservice communication within apps. The apps tap Linkerd by running instances and proxying calls through these instances, while under the hood Linkerd applies routing rules; balances network load; provides TLS encryption; and instruments reporting metrics like success rate, request throughput, and latency distributions.

In that respect, it’s not far off from Istio, a network mesh that similarly combines load balancing with dynamic routing. Coincidentally, startup Tetrate this week raised $12.5 million to maintain and support Istio and Envoy, its control layer, with open source tools, certified builds, and adapters.

Both Buoyant and Tetrate’s financing rounds come as an increasing share of companies — as many as 86 percent, according to a recent reported published by Dimensional Research — expect services and microservices to become part of their app stack in the next five years. (Microservices are collections of loosely coupled, independently deployable components embedded within apps across private and public clouds.) Analysts at Camunda say that 63 percent of enterprises they recently surveyed are currently using microservices architectures.

Linkerd is hosted by the Linux Foundation’s Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), an industry consortium working toward a blueprint for scalable cloud-based architectures, and it underlies the infrastructure of companies like Ticketmaster, Comcast, Salesforce, Monzo, PayPal, CreditKarma, OfferUp, NextVR, Chase Bank, and Expedia’s HomeAway. Linkerd 2.0 — a major rewrite — was released in September (roughly two years after Linkerd’s debut) and improves the framework’s performance and resource consumption.

“Linkerd is a critical component of our multi-cloud, highly scaled architecture,” said HomeAway principal architect Mark Tyrrell. “The Linkerd service mesh has allowed us to scale microservices and applications to handle incredibly high volumes of traffic in a way that’s secure against failures of individual machines, clusters, or even regions.”

Buoyant recently announced commercial support for Linkerd, which it expects will make up a significant portion of revenue in the coming years. Basic service starts at $100 a month and includes a subscription to the company’s production runbook, while the variably priced premium tier adds on-call support, technical assistance, and architectural and configuration consulting.

“Linkerd’s widely used service mesh is multiplatform, ultrafast, and proven at scale,” said GV’s Dave Munichiello. “The project’s focus on simplicity, speed, and scale has driven rapid adoption among both startups and large enterprises. We’ve been impressed by Buoyant’s execution to date and are excited to help as they enter their next phase of growth.”

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