Over the last few years the service mesh has drawn increasing amounts of attention from the cloud-native computing world, and Buoyant just raised $10 million in new funding led by a company affiliated with a rival technology.
GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) led the new round, which included funding from previous investors Benchmark and A.Capital and brought the total amount of money raised by the company to just under $25 million. Google’s involvement is interesting given how hard Google Cloud is pushing a different service-mesh technology called Istio as the solution to the complexities caused by the adoption of microservices.
“The reason why GV would want to invest in something is because they believe in the technology and the product, they believe this is the right long-term path for the service mesh,” said William Morgan, co-founder and CEO of the startup. Morgan and fellow ex-Twitter engineer Oliver Gould launched Buoyant in 2017 around the linkerd open-source service mesh hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.
Modern cloud applications are often built using microservices, which allow developers to use lots of lightweight services that communicate with each other to build their applications instead of writing one big block of code like in the old days. This means those applications can be rolled out and updated much more quickly than older approaches allowed, but that convenience becomes complicated pretty fast.
Technologies like linkerd and Istio help companies manage that complexity, and Istio has assumed the role played by Kubernetes a few years ago as one of Google Cloud’s biggest selling points. The main difference between the two is that Google intends to manage Istio for its customers while linkerd users are expected to do a lot of that work themselves, Morgan said.
That also means linkerd was designed to be lighter and easier to use, while Istio has all the features that you’d want if you were running the service mesh at Google’s scale. “Linkerd is the less-complex Istio, and that’s by design,” he said.
Buoyant intends to add some engineers to the 20-person company but doesn’t intend to grow aggressively in 2019. It also doesn’t plan to roll out a managed version of linkerd any time soon, relying on support and services revenue as its business model while it continues to build out the project, Morgan said.
And it sounds like linkerd won’t be the only project on Buoyant’s plate by this time next year, as while the company doesn’t plan to release a managed version of that project it is considering other product-development areas that it could offer as a revenue-generating cloud service, Morgan said.
Buoyant’s latest round comes the day after three of the people who worked on Istio during its early development within Google, IBM, and Lyft announced a new startup called Tetrate that will also tackle the service mesh.