Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Startup Heptio Takes Kubernetes Mainstream 

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Heptio is the latest application container startup, but it's pedigree runs deeper than most: The startup's founders are two Google veterans who created the Kubernetes container orchestrator that is vying to become an industry standard for emerging micro-services.

Kubernetes project founders Joe Beda and Craig McLuckie unveiled Heptio this week, declaring the startup will deliver the container orchestrator to enterprises to "increase infrastructure efficiency and reduce the complexity of managing software at scale."

Put another way, they intend to make application containers ready for primetime by making complex tools like Kubernetes easier to for operators to deploy and developers to use.

The partners said Thursday (Nov. 17) they have so far raised $8.5 million in seed funding in an early round led by powerhouse technology investor Accel. Madonna Venture Group also participated.

McLuckie, who also chairs the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, stresses that Heptio's focus is "making Kubernetes accessible to the enterprise living in a multi-cloud world."

The Seattle-based startup is focused on overcoming teething problems as early adopters of container technology struggle with installation issues along with container isolation and persistent storage. "Heptio’s early focus is on making Kubernetes more accessible to developers running apps on-premises or in the public cloud," McLuckie stated. "In the future we plan to work closely with the open ecosystem to advance the platform, and deliver the features enterprises need to run Kubernetes at scale.”

The startup reflects the steady shift toward cloud-native applications and operations along with what McLuckie calls "logical computing infrastructure" that allows developers to build, deploy and manage applications. Along with container orchestrators like Kubernetes and Mesos, those operations include application containers from Docker, CoreOS and others along with micro-service frameworks designed to tie together discrete infrastructure.

McLuckie further argued in a blog post that "the benefits around consolidation are obvious: I see Kubernetes users reduce their [Amazon Web Services] (NASDAQ: AMZN) bill when they transition to Kubernetes. I have personally seen users report between 50 percent and 80 percent reduction in infrastructure utilization."

The founders also are positioning Kubernetes as an underlying technology for OpenStack deployments, which also have had to overcome lingering installation issues.

Beda said Heptio's goals reflect the evolution of IT operations and DevOps "into a more mature model that works at scale inside of large organizations," or what the founders refer to as "operations specialization." Hence, the startup is focused on making it easier to spin up computing clusters, simplifying their use by application developers once deployed.

"The [goal] here is really going to be in enabling the average user… to get something out of a Kubernetes cluster. That's an ease-of-use area we are going to concentrate on a lot," Beda explained.

McLuckie, who recently left Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), will serve as Heptio's CEO. Beda departed Google to become an Accel "entrepreneur-in-residence" and will serve as the startup's CTO.

The founders said the name Heptio refers to the seven sides of the Kubernetes symbol, as in the Greek word "hept" plus the .io startup domain name.


About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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