VMware buys Heptio, sets course for cloud native

Heptio Contour

VMware has made a big bet on Kuberbnetes by swallowing Heptio, the two year old company started by two of the container orchestrator’s creators.

Heptio’s co-founders are Joe Beda and Craig McLuckie, two of the three originators of Kubernetes at Google. They decided to go it alone two years ago with Heptio, racking up funding of just over $33.5m on the way. The firm offers a subscription Kubernetes service and professional services, as well as working on a raft of opensource projects, including the Contour Ingress Controller

In a blog post today, co-founder McLuckie said, the company was “incredibly well capitalized and supported by our investors” but that “To realize the greatest possible impact, Heptio would need access to an entirely different level of resources and execution capabilities than we have today.”

“Who is best positioned to lead this transformation?” he continued, rhetorically. “The company that led a parallel transformation—the software defined data center. VMware.”

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For its part, VMWare highlighted both the firm’s product set and contributions to opensource and Kubernetes, as well as its training and services business: “As a result, Heptio will be able to open new channels for VMware to further engage the open source community and harden upstream Kubernetes as well as support the cloud native needs of the largest enterprises in the world upon closing.”

Paul Fazzone, senior vice president and general manager, Cloud Native Apps Business Unit, VMware said in a canned statement. “Heptio products and services will reinforce and extend VMware’s efforts with [Vwmare’s]  PKS to establish Kubernetes as the de facto standard for infrastructure across clouds upon closing. We are thrilled that the Heptio team led by Craig and Joe will be joining VMware to help us guide customers as they move to a multi-cloud world.”

McLuckie added in his blog post, that when it comes to organisations being able to fully exploit cloud native architectures in general, and Kubernetes in particular, “The missing piece is a control plane that shapes the experience in deploying and accessing cloud native technologies. It must address day 2 challenges, integrating technologies into a practical enterprise environment, and instituting policies and management capabilities. It is going to take a hard push from an engaged, enterprise-friendly company to make it real.”

He also said that the two firms were very similar culturally – something that will be important as Heptio is absorbed into VMWare’s existing Kubernetes business.

VMWare’s move sparked comparisons with IBM’s purchase of Red Hat just over a week ago. Not that the two deals are that similar. IBM is paying $34bn for Red Hat, while according to TechCrunch, last year’s funding round valued Heptio at $117m. Rather that both deals see established firms making size-able bets on open source, hybrid cloud or cloud native technologies.

There are still plenty of companies out there trumpeting their cloud native credentials, while shepherding open source projects, so we should hear the sounds of corporate cheque books flapping open for some while to come.

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