Isovalent Announces $40M Series B as Cilium and eBPF Transform Cloud Native Service Connectivity and Security


Isovalent–the leading company behind the rapidly growing open source technologies Cilium and eBPF, today announced it has closed a $40M Series B funding round led by Thomvest Ventures. M12 (Microsoft’s Venture Fund) and Grafana Labs joined Google and Cisco as existing strategic investors in the company, highlighting the central position that Isovalent occupies in the eBPF and broader cloud native ecosystem. Additional investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Mango Capital, and Mirae Asset Capital.

Isovalent is the creator of the Cilium project and provider of Isovalent Cilium Enterprise. Cilium has become the de-facto standard for secure and observable cloud native connectivity and has been selected as the default in several managed Kubernetes offerings of major public cloud providers including Google Kubernetes Engine, Google Anthos, and Amazon EKS Anywhere. Platform engineering teams at major enterprises such as Adobe, Bell Canada, Capital One, Datadog, Palantir, IKEA, and Sky, are working with Isovalent to enable enterprise-grade connectivity in their cloud native environments.

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A New Layer for Cloud Native Service Connectivity and Security

“Our customers are enterprises and telcos who are now past the ‘Day 1’ phase of Kubernetes. In the ‘Day 2’ phase, the fact that Kubernetes itself does not provide a networking layer with the security, observability, reliability, and performance needed by more mission critical workloads becomes a critical gap”, said Isovalent CEO Dan Wendlandt. “The rapid adoption of Cilium across many verticals including finance/payments, e-commerce/retail, insurance, telecommunications, government, data analytics, entertainment and many more, highlights that we are solving a critical piece of the puzzle for users as they take the next step on their Kubernetes journey.”

These same requirements are driving Cilium into cloud providers’ managed Kubernetes offerings, making it easier for their users to tackle these connectivity challenges.

“As more and more customers are succeeding with Kubernetes on top of Azure, we see a strong demand for advanced networking & security use cases. eBPF and Cilium are leading open source technologies for scalable & secure connectivity in Kubernetes”, said Deepak Bansal, Corporate VP, Azure Core Engineering. “Isovalent is leading the open source communities driving these technologies. Through this relationship between Azure Networking and Isovalent, we will bring the best eBPF and Cilium experience and integration to our customers.”

Since its introduction in 2018, Cilium has experienced explosive adoption as an eBPF-enabled technology. With 463 contributors, 12.8K GitHub stars, and over 12K members in the community Slack, Cilium is the one of the fastest growing cloud native connectivity projects in the Kubernetes ecosystem. It stands alone as the only container network interface (CNI) at the incubation level in the CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation), with full Graduated project status targeted for the first half of 2023.

Isovalent: The Pioneers Behind Cilium and eBPF

The rapid rise of Cilium has been fueled by eBPF, an exciting new Linux kernel technology now broadly available in all mainstream Linux distributions. While the capabilities of Linux kernel have traditionally evolved slowly, with new code taking years to find its way into a release used by enterprise customers, eBPF has unleashed a wave of innovation by providing a safe and efficient mechanism for injecting new intelligence into the kernel already running on any mainstream Linux distribution.

In addition to building Cilium, the most advanced eBPF-based solution in the world, Isovalent co-maintains the eBPF codebase upstream in the Linux kernel and is the leading company driving a rapidly growing open source community around eBPF. Isovalent maintains, hosts the eBPF Summit (the largest eBPF community event), and has led the creation of the eBPF Foundation (along with founding members Meta, Netflix, Google, and Microsoft).

“eBPF and Cilium are critical technologies in a new infrastructure layer that is emerging. The focal point of networking and security has shifted, initially from hardware boxes to software hypervisors, and now into the Linux kernel”, said Martin Casado, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz and co-founder of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) pioneer Nicira, acquired by VMware in 2012 for $1.26B. “With this new layer, connectivity, firewalling, load-balancing, and network monitoring are handled within the Linux kernel itself, allowing for much richer context for both security and observability, and ensuring consistent visibility and control across all types of underlying cloud infrastructure. Isovalent is uniquely well-positioned to be the leading company for this critical new layer.”

Enabling Customers & Ecosystem with Isovalent Cilium Enterprise

Isovalent partners with leading enterprises and telcos via its commercial product: Isovalent Cilium Enterprise, which combines a hardened distribution of open source Cilium, proactive customer support, and additional enterprise-only networking, security, and observability capabilities.

Isovalent Cilium Enterprise capabilities include:
  • Scalable Multi-Cloud Networking
  • Efficient and Dynamic Service Load-Balancing
  • Service Identity-aware Network Firewalling
  • Network & API-layer Observability
  • Transparent Network Encryption
  • Runtime Security Observability & Enforcement
  • Sidecar-free Service Mesh

Enterprises expect these capabilities to work seamlessly with offerings from their other key vendors in the Kubernetes ecosystem. Isovalent partners with the major cloud providers, as well as Red Hat OpenShift, SUSE Rancher, and other leading Kubernetes distributions to ensure compatibility and a simplified operational experience for joint customers when running Isovalent Cilium Enterprise.

Similarly, the investment by Grafana Labs serves as a foundation for providing easy-to-use integrations between the observability data generated by Cilium and the broader open source observability ecosystem.”When we first connected with the Isovalent team we realized that we are highly complementary businesses with shared roots in open source and passion for community collaboration, which made working together an easy choice,” said Raj Dutt, CEO and Co-founder of Grafana Labs. “Once we started diving deeper into the technology, we quickly saw the potential benefits for our mutual customers and community members if we worked together to deliver eBPF-based observability for monitoring, troubleshooting, and security workflows in Kubernetes. So we are excited to support Isovalent’s mission now and as they continue to grow.”

Continuing the Isovalent Journey

Isovalent was founded by Dan Wendlandt and Thomas Graf in 2017, betting big on eBPF as THE transformational technology that would allow them to bring Linux networking & security into the modern era of Kubernetes and microservices. Prior to Isovalent, Wendlandt was one of the first hires at SDN category-creator Nicira, leading product strategy for both Open vSwitch (OVS) and the SDN-controller that became VMware NSX. Graf is a long-time leader in the Linux kernel community, and was at the forefront of many key enhancements to the Linux networking & security layer while at Red Hat and Cisco. Recognizing the revolutionary potential of eBPF, Graf and other Isovalent team members founded the Cilium project in 2016.

“In the past year, many startups and large vendors have started to understand the massive potential of eBPF,” said Umesh Padval, Partner at Thomvest Ventures, “but Dan, Thomas and the Isovalent team were years ahead of everyone else. Their technical vision, combined with a deep understanding of how to build successful open source communities, has meant that leading enterprises as well as all the major cloud providers are standardizing around Cilium. Isovalent has the rare opportunity to lead the creation of a fundamentally new and incredibly strategic layer in the enterprise infrastructure stack, and we are thrilled to be part of that journey.”

Continuing its commitment to open source innovation, Isovalent will use the proceeds from the Series B fundraise to remain the leading force behind the eBPF community, and continue the rise of Cilium as the leading technology for Kubernetes networking, security, and service mesh. The company will rapidly expand its team both to support quickly-growing customer demand for Isovalent Cilium Enterprise and to collaborate with the always-expanding set of ecosystem partners who look to Isovalent as the new standard for secure and observable connectivity within Kubernetes and beyond.

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