Companies today want to avoid the lock-in they faced in the past with a single vendor. As a result, they are hedging their bets with a multi-cloud strategy, but this creates a new problem around finding a single tool for managing it all. That's where Upbound comes in with its open source Crossplane multi-cloud management tool.
It's a big problem, and up until now, companies have relied on the cloud vendors themselves to manage each one separately. While some solutions like Google Anthos and Red Hat OpenShift have come along, there was a lack of open source tooling until Upbound released Crossplane in May 2020.
Investors recognized the need identified by Upbound and rewarded the company with a $60 million Series B to help build the open source project while looking to grow the commercial version of the product. Altimeter Capital led the round with participation from GV, Intel Capital and Telstra Ventures.
Upbound founder and CEO Bassam Tabbara said that while the market has attempted to find a solution to this management challenge, he believes that his company is the first to build an open source community with the hope of developing this single management console and single API to manage across cloud tools.
"There's been a lot of efforts around trying to build a single point of control. None of them have attacked this problem from a community perspective, creating a universal control plane that enables that in [a] community, while [building] the convergence around it," he said.
"I think of Crossplane as the first to get to a point where we actually now have a convergence effect around a single universal cloud API. This has never happened before. It's truly the first time that we've gotten to one. You can go to Crossplane right now and you get one declarative API that can be used to address all cloud resources and infrastructure sources across all vendors."
Tabbara points out that the project is fully cloud-native and is managed under the umbrella of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which manages Kubernetes and other key open source cloud-native technologies.
He said that Crossplane allows users to pick and choose the cloud vendors they want to use -- whether cloud infrastructure vendors like AWS, Microsoft and Google or cloud-native tooling like Elastic, Confluent, Databricks and Snowflake -- and manage all of that from a single API.
The company has grown and helped nurture the open source project and developed a commercial product in parallel called Upbound (like the company), which customers can install themselves in their cloud of choice or use a SaaS version that Upbound will manage for them.
It's not only catching on with users. Tabbara said he has also been seeing major vendors like AWS, Azure, Equinix and IBM building integrations for Crossplane. He believes this is key, and it's similar to the dynamic we saw in 2017 when the major cloud players began to rally around Kubernetes and the CNCF.
"It's truly to the point where there is now a real convergence effect around Crossplane, not unlike the convergence effect that we saw around Kubernetes as a project, and not unlike the convergence we saw around Linux as a project," he said.
It seems to be a project and a commercial vision with tremendous potential, one that investors see as a pivotal piece of the cloud puzzle and are willing to pour in significant capital to help build. If Upbound can execute on this vision, it may be onto something truly transformative, but only time will tell if they can make that happen.