Sometimes Dragons

New Client Profile: Solace

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About

Solace was founded in 2001 (as Solace Systems) by Craig Betts as a specialized provider of low-latency messaging hardware for capital markets, competing with software only solutions from the likes of IBM. Solace has since expanded its client base across multiple industries providing event streaming and management in its PubSub+ product line. The name PubSub+ comes from publish/subscribe (or pub/sub), one of the canonical message oriented middleware patterns.

Headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, the Solace team is currently led by CEO Denis King (who recently stepped up from the COO role to replace former CEO Les Rechan), CTO Shawn McAllister, CMO Mychelle Mollot, and CFO Ken Wigglesworth. 

The Solace elevator pitch: “We provide a complete platform for event streaming and management. From distributed event streaming across an event mesh, to tools that help developers and architects discover, manage and govern events across the enterprise.”

Size 

  • 280+ employees in offices located around the world including London, Hong Kong, Mumbai, New Delhi, New York, Paris, Santa Clara, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Zurich.
  • 24 patents
  • The company is privately held and has raised multiple rounds of funding over the years;  Bridge Growth Partners LLC acquired a majority interest in Solace in April 2016.
  • 350+ customers
  • Global sales distribution:
    • North America: 40% 
    • Europe: 30% 
    • Asia-Pacific: 30%

Products

PubSub+ Event Broker comes in 3 deployment models: 

  • PubSub+ Event Broker: Softwarecan be deployed on a variety of virtual or containerized infrastructure, PaaS layers (Red Hat OpenShift, VMware Tanzu, etc.), or in any of the three major public cloud providers; a free standard edition is available (with max message rate limits) as well as an enterprise edition (priced per core).
  • PubSub+ Event Broker: Appliance–a hardware appliance with two configurations available. 
  • PubSub+ Event Broker: CloudSaaS offering available on all three major cloud providers (AWS, Azure, GCP) and Huawei; 3 paid plans are available, as well as a free plan in some regions.

Each event broker works to translate messages published by the entities (a service, application, etc.) producing the event so that the corresponding subscribing entities can consume them. 

Customers can link multiple instances of any combination of the hardware, software, and cloud forms of PubSub+Event Broker together to form what Solace calls an “event mesh.” Think of an event mesh as a distributed layer that receives messages generated by a slew of different sources and source types across a customer’s on-prem and/or cloud infrastructure, and then dynamically routes them to where they need to go. 

PubSub+ Event Broker offerings support multiple messaging protocols including AMQP, MQTT, REST, and Websocket as well as Solace’s own SMF protocol. Multiple APIs and programming languages are also supported.

PubSub+ Event PortalWith general availability announced this past April, PubSub+ Event Portal is a new type of offering in event tooling. Billed as “an API portal for events,” it offers users event design, lifecycle management, cataloging, discovery and governance. 

PubSub+ Event Portal can be used with Solace’s own PubSub+ Event Brokers, but can also be used with third-party brokers such as Apache Kafka. 

PubSub+ PlatformSolace also advertises a PubSub+ Platform that assembles the Event Broker and Event Portal offerings outlined above with additional pieces such as a cloud-based management console.

Diagram of PubSub+ Platform

Go to Market

Solace’s existing client base stretches across various industries including financial services, gaming, retail, and telecom. Typical buyers are application architects and middleware teams.

Solace has partnerships with the likes of Dell Boomi, SAP, ASAPIO and F5.

Over the last year, Solace has overhauled their developer resources and created a community site, indicating an increased bid for developer mindshare. This also comes across in the developer-friendly design and messaging around its PubSub+ Event Portal. 

The free Standard Edition of the software version of PubSub+ Event Broker as well as the availability of a free plan on all three major public clouds makes Solace’s core offerings more accessible to developers.

Competitive Landscape

As both event-driven architectures and the need to handle high-volume event streams become increasingly more common, demand is increasing for improved tools and management, and competition is fierce. 

All three major public cloud providers have offerings that compete with Solace’s PubSub+ Event Broker: Azure Event Grid, Google Cloud Pub/Sub, AWS Simple Notification Service (SNS) and Simple Queue Service (SQS). Other competitors include IBM MQ and open source option RabbitMQ. And then there is Apache Kafka on the streaming side. 

Kafka is an open source distributed log platform for streaming, with high throughput and low latency, which has become an industry standard (to learn more, check out this post). With companies like Confluent and TIBCO offering various managed and supported options for Kafka, as well as cloud providers like AWS throwing the likes of its Amazon Managed Kafka Service (MKS) in the mix, there is a lot of Kafka to go around. Solace argues that it is complementary to Kafka, seeing its strengths more in transactions. Indeed, Solace appears to be embracing Kafka as indicated by its early-on support for Kafka in its PubSub+ Event Portal.

Disclosure: Solace is a RedMonk client, but this is an independent piece of research (not commissioned by Solace) and all opinions are our own. AWS, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware are also RedMonk clients.

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