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Bouyant is feeling Bouyant

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We caught up Bouyant, the commercial company behind Linkerd, a service router for the cloud native era, this week. Linkerd is one a basket of emerging technologies in in the emerging Cloud Native Computing Foundation stack. The CNCF is growing explosively, with adoption being driven by developers and engineers including Kubernetes and Fluentd. Enterprises seeking to emulate Web Companies from a business perspective are also imitating them in terms of technology adoption and deployment. As Fintan says, it’s time to go beyond Kubernetes.

Linkerd recently hit version 1.0 – it’s a modern proxy or router for distributed services-based apps, sitting just above “Layer 3 or 4” of the stack. It overlaps somewhat with the likes of Weaveworks, in that it relies on microservice networking but it’s not about IP addresses so much as higher levels of abstraction. One of the key design points is distributed tracing, with automated failover, and service discovery for distributed services.

William Morgan and Oliver Gould founded the company having worked together at Twitter. They were part of the infrastructure team that drove the transition from a Twitter as a Rails monolith to a distributed microservice-based app, one of the first cloud native architectures.

“At Twitter, we saw the end state, but now we’re seeing companies at the start state apps with a significant level of service to service interconnection. We built finagle for service to service communications. We took the ideas, and some of the code to create Linkerd.”

The tools the team built at Twitter, including Finagle, are extended and packaged as Linkerd.

Buoyant has picked up tech hipsters like one of its earliest adopters, the developer-driven bank Monzo (formerly Mondo).

“The more legitimate they become the better it is for us.”

But Buoyant has also picked more traditional enterprises such as the academic publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which has been around for more than 100 years, and a couple of really interesting high scale SaaS wins i can’t name yet. Key to future enterprise success will be Buoyant focus on companies making the transition to cloud native architectures with “mission critical” low latency transactional systems. Like Spanner from Google, Buoyant plans to differentiate by positioning itself as being about transactions rather than document-based web apps. It’s not going after event-driven asynchronous apps.

Bouyant is currently raising growth capital.It will be interesting to see how the company’s story evolves as cloud native requirements, and microservices architectures do.

“Before companies didn’t understand what we did or what we did. The question now is still – what is this? but they know they need something like it.”

Buoyant has chosen to market the idea of a ServiceMesh rather than an application router. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. A customer engagement model that begins with a long explanation can be a tough sell.

Weaveworks and Treasure Data (Fluentd) are both clients

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