Hong Wang

Announcing the Launch of Akuity

Akuity and Argo logos together

We are thrilled to be announcing the launch of Akuity, the Argo enterprise company modernizing the cloud-native toolchain with Argo, the industry-leading open-source suite of Kubernetes-native application delivery software. In addition, we have received a $4.5 million seed funding led by Decibel Partners, with Decibel founder Jon Sakoda serving on our board of directors. We’re also proud to be bringing in some of the top minds and innovators in open source as our angel investors and advisors, including Stephen Augustus (Head of Open Source at Cisco), Shay Banon (Founder & CEO of Elastic), Kelsey Hightower (Principal Engineer at Google Cloud), Mallik Mahalingam (VP at Intuit, Former Founder at Springpath), Alexander Matyushentsev (Argo Co-Creator, Intuit), Greg Schott (Former CEO at Mulesoft), and Pratik Wadher (SVP Product Development at Intuit).

Over the past several years, the software industry has witnessed a seismic shift in how applications are developed, distributed, and deployed, prompted by the advent of the public cloud, containerization, and Kubernetes. Not since Linux and virtualization has a set of technologies transformed developer operations in such a fundamental way.

Argo Team with Kubernetes co-creator Joe Beda @ 2018 KubeCon North America, Seattle
Argo Team with Kubernetes co-creator Joe Beda @ 2018 KubeCon North America, Seattle

Five years ago, Jesse and I were at Applatix, a company that recognized this trend, where we created and open-sourced the Argo Workflows project, a container-native workflow engine for Kubernetes. At the time, it was a novel idea to use a container image as a step in a CI pipeline. It was even more innovative to implement that by extending the Kubernetes API with a custom resource to configure and drive that process.

Intuit, a tech-forward company (and a great place to work!), understood the value that Kubernetes would bring to developer velocity, acquiring Applatix in 2018 to help modernize their SaaS platform. Under Intuit’s stewardship, the Argo project thrived beyond its original scope of workflow automation to enhance all aspects of Kubernetes application delivery. This includes continuous delivery (Argo CD), progressive delivery (Argo Rollouts), and event automation (Argo Events). Argo is now trusted by dozens of leading Fortune 500 enterprises worldwide and is one of the fastest-growing Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) projects.

CNCF project rankings of developer velocity based on project activity
CNCF project rankings of developer velocity based on project activity

Formation of Akuity

As the Argo project matured and gained adoption, Jesse and I realized that it would benefit from commercial backing and a trusted vendor to help take it to the next level. And so, we formed Akuity to do just that.

Akuity founders Hong Wang (left) and Jesse Suen (right)
Akuity founders Hong Wang (left) and Jesse Suen (right)

During our tenure at Intuit, Jesse and I led multiple key teams on both the Kubernetes Platform and Developer Experience organizations. We gained first-hand experience on what it takes to create a successful, self-service developer experience for thousands of DevOps engineers across hundreds of engineering organizations, using Argo as the fundamental underpinning. Not only did we develop the Argo suite, we ran and operated it as well, scaling the solution to handle 13,000 applications across 350 Kubernetes clusters while providing support, solution guidance, and enterprise SLAs to our internal end-users. In addition, we’ve personally met with many external companies, large and small, to understand their use cases and help enable their adoption of Argo.

We felt it was the right time to share this knowledge and expertise to help make other companies just as successful with their Kubernetes journey, using the same great tooling that enabled Intuit: Argo. With Akuity, you’ll receive expert support and guidance straight from the Argo creators and maintainers of the project themselves, in a distribution containing our opinions and best practices implemented out-of-the-box. Our deep understanding of the Argo codebase allows us to prioritize and upstream bug fixes, release hotfixes, or find quick workarounds to issues.

As we enter this new chapter as an Argo vendor, we will never abandon our roots in open source. Our belief in open source is reflected in our choice of VCs, investors, and advisors, all like-minded people who share our conviction that open source and community collaboration is the best method of software development model going forward. Akuity aims to protect Argo as an unencumbered open source project and will continue to invest in what’s needed to foster the Argo project’s growth. This includes continuing our development of the project, supporting users with their issues, facilitating meetings and discussions, and promoting Argo every chance we get.

Our vision for the future

Perhaps potentially more impactful than providing a robust container orchestration system, Kubernetes has pioneered the paradigm of API-centric, declarative configuration, and automation. This has given rise to GitOps, the practice of managing infrastructure and application configurations using git as the source of truth of the desired state of a system, and is the foundation of how Argo CD operates.

We are now starting to see Kubernetes used beyond its original purpose of running containerized applications, but also as a control plane to deploy and manage cloud infrastructure and other complex software systems. For example, following the success of managing SaaS applications using GitOps at Intuit, we extended that practice to declaratively manage and version control our Kubernetes clusters and other AWS resources.

We aren’t the only ones who believe this:

A new crop of projects and patterns are starting to emerge, leveraging Kubernetes APIs and resources to model and orchestrate their lifecycle. All of which will need Kubernetes-native delivery tooling to help deploy, monitor, and manage these resources, and Argo is uniquely positioned to facilitate this.

We believe that containerization and Kubernetes will eventually become ubiquitous as virtualization and Linux is today. But a modernized generation of tooling is needed to address this paradigm shift, with Akuity and Argo leading that charge.

If this is something that resonates with you, get in touch with us! Join the Argo community and find us in Argo channels in the CNCF slack (@Hong Wang and @jessesuen). Lastly, if you happen to be attending KubeCon 2021 in-person this year in Los Angeles, you can find us staffing the Argo maintainers booth or at Jesse’s talk on the Argo ecosystem.

- Hong & Jesse

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