Q&A: Solo.io brings open-source community to the enterprise

Q&A: Solo.io brings open-source community to the enterprise

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Open-source projects are no longer only a developer’s conversation; they are now also an executive-level discussion.

Companies of all sizes and industries are now considering open-source projects as sometimes even better than proprietary software. Open source proponents say that its not only cost-efficient, but also more portable, flexible and secure. One downside, some executives say, is their support.

Solo.io Inc. has found its niche here. The company is a cloud-native app platform built on projects like Kubernetes, Istio, Envoy and others.

“If you’re looking at Kubernetes, we went there from the beginning; if you’re looking at service mesh Istio, we were all in … and now Cilium is something that we’re also focusing on,” said Idit Levine (pictured left), founder and chief executive officer of Solo.io. “But then once we actually get those parts, we’re basically very good at going and leading those communities. We are basically bringing the customers to the community itself.”

Levine and Brian Gracely (pictured), vice president of product marketing at Solo.io, spoke with theCUBE industry analysts John Furrier and Lisa Martin at the recent KubeCon + CloudNativeCon NA 2022, during an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. (* Disclosure below.)

They discussed Solo.io’s trajectory, CloudNative 2.0, its users, and their stats and values. [The following content has been condensed for clarity.]

Furrier: This whole service mesh and where it fits in … what’s the update? 

Gracely: Our customers have said, ‘For the last two or three years, we’ve been building Kubernetes, we’ve had a certain amount of success with it.’ They’re building applications faster, they’re deploying, and then that success leads to new challenges. So, we call that first Kubernetes part Cloud-Native 1.0, and this show is really Cloud-Native 2.0. For us, Istio now being part of the CNCF is huge, standardized and people are excited about it. We think we are the best at doing Istio from a service-mesh perspective. It’s a perfect equation. 

Martin: Talk about some of your customer conversations. What are the big barriers [your customers] had, or the challenges, that solo.io comes in and wipes off the table? 

Levine: I think that a lot of them very rarely had success with Kubernetes; maybe [they had success with] a few clusters, but then they basically started to on-ramp more applications on those clusters. They need more clusters, maybe they want multicloud. And they mainly wanted to enable the team. I think that that’s where they started to see the problem, because it’s one thing to take some open-source project and deploy it very little, but the scale, it’s all about the scale. How do you enable all those millions of developers working on your platform? How do you scale multicloud? What’s going on if one of them is down? So that’s exactly the problem that they have. 

Furrier: What else did you do differently that you could point to what I would call “a modern technique for an entrepreneurial scale?” 

Levine: We have one team that is dedicated to open-source contribution and working with all the open-source community. And we’re really good at picking the right product. So we are leading by being in the Technical Oversight Committee. We are leading by actually contributing a lot. So if the customer needs something immediately, we will patch it for him and walk upstream. We also push the boundaries, including announcing Ambient a month ago with Google. Finally, we are the extension team of the customer. We are there on Slack if they need something. 

Gracely: The other thing we did, and again this was during COVID, we didn’t want to be a shell-for company. We didn’t want to drop stuff off and you didn’t know what to do with it. So, we trained nearly 10,000 people. We have something called Solo Academy, which is a free online workshop. They run all the time, and people can come and get hands-on training. We’re building an army of people that are those specialists that have that skill set.

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon NA 2022 event:

(* Disclosure: This is an unsponsored editorial segment. However, theCUBE is a paid media partner for KubeCon + CloudNativeCon NA 2022. Sponsors of theCUBE’s event coverage have no editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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