Upbound grabs $9 M Series A to automate multi-cloud management

Kubernetes, the open source container orchestration tool, does a great job of managing a single cluster, but Upbound, a new Seattle-based startup wants to extend this ability to manage multiple Kubernetes clusters across multi-cloud environment. It’s a growing requirement as companies deploy ever-larger numbers of clusters and choose a multi-vendor approach to cloud infrastructure services.

Today, the company announced a $9 million Series A investment led by GV (formerly Google Ventures) along with numerous unnamed angel investors from the cloud-native community. As part of the deal, GV’s Dave Munichiello will be joining the company board of directors.

It’s important to note that the company is currently working on the product and could be a year away from a release, but the vision is certainly compelling. As Upbound CEO and founder Bassam Tabbara says, his company’s solution could allow customers to run, scale and optimize their workloads across clusters, regions and clouds as a single entity.

That level of control could enable them to set rules and policies across those clusters and clouds. For example, a customer might control costs by creating a rule to find the cloud with lowest cost for processing a given job, or provide failover control across regions and clouds — all automatically. It would provide the general ability to have highly granular control across multiple environments that isn’t really possible now, Tabarra explained.

That vision of enterprise portability is certainly something that caught the eye of GV’s Munichiello. “Upbound presents a credible approach to multi-cloud computing built on the success of Kubernetes, and as a response to the growing enterprise demand for hybrid and multi-cloud environments,” he said in a statement.

Companies are working with multiple Kubernetes clusters today. As an example, CERN, the European physics organization is running 210 clusters. JD.com, the Chinese shopping site has over 20,000 servers running Kubernetes. The largest cluster is made up of 5000 servers. As these projects scale, they require a tool to help manage their workloads across these larger environments.

The company’s founder isn’t new to cloud-native computing or open source. Tabarra was part of the team responsible for producing the open source project, Rook, an offshoot of Kubernetes and a Cloud Native Computing Foundation Sandbox project.  Rook helps orchestrate distributed storage systems running in cloud native environments in a similar way that Kubernetes does for containerized environments. That project provided some of the ground work for what Upbound is trying to do on a broader scale beyond pure storage.

The computing world is suddenly all about abstraction. We started with virtual machines, which allowed you take an individual server and make it into multiple virtual machines. That led to containers, which could take the same machine in let you launch hundreds of containers. Kubernetes is an open source container orchestration tool that has rapidly gained acceptance by allowing operations to treat a cluster of Kubernetes nodes as a single entity, making it much easier to launch and manage containers.

Upbound launched last Fall and currently has 8 employees, but Tabbara says they are actively seeking new engineers. The nature of their business is about distributed workloads and he says the workforce will be similar. They won’t have to work in Seattle. He says the plan is to use and contribute to open source whenever possible and to open source parts of the product when it’s available.

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