Clouds are heavy – both types. Like their meteorological counterparts, cloud computing clouds carry significant water weight (data), internal weather system complexity (network layer connectivity) and huge potential for kinetic and energy exercise (big data analytics, AI machine learning functions, time processing and much more ).
While we could go on with analogies here, the prevailing sentiment that seems to emanate from the cloud computing industry right now is about the complexity of orchestrating and managing the cloud. Clouds (the ones above us and the computer) are often a vortex of forces that we fail to harness as efficiently as we should, especially when we pay for them.
On a mission to revolutionize the cloud computing company currently built by the top three cloud service providers (CSPs) is UK and US based Civo. The company developed its cloud-based initial services based on K3s, a lightweight distribution of Kubernetes, a widely popular open source technology used to organize, deploy, scale, and manage cloud containers (smaller components of cloud functions).
What is lightweight technology?
It’s important to note that Lightweight is an odd term in enterprise software. In technology engineering terms, lightweight usually refers to algorithmically efficient code that is primarily optimized for the task it was created to perform. Lightweight can be very powerful because it’s software designed to perform a fine-engineering function and do it well – hence perhaps we need to talk (above) about orchestration and the concept of bringing together smaller, better-designed software components in order to create more functional and cost-effective cloud computing services .
The CEO of Civo is British born Mark Post Its assembled team of engineers has a proven track record in the hosting, connectivity and data center industry. Now Civo is positioning its technology proposition as more than just a Kubernetes platform, Civo wants it to be seen as a model for how the modern cloud works, with community at the heart of its culture.
“For five years now, our team has been building a cloud platform for a UK cloud hosting company (called LCN.com) which has subsequently been sold. At that time, we identified the need for a cloud platform with a community-led approach based on open source roots, focusing solely on on Kubernetes, so that was the beginning of Civo,” Boost explained. We have turned our attention to a lightweight Kubernetes distribution Rancher Labs K3s Because it suited our goal of creating a quick and easy platform for developers to integrate with their ongoing computing efforts… and was perfectly positioned to capitalize on the future growth of edge computing and the impending explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) on their way to ubiquity.”
Platform development, secure by design
Like any enterprise software offering in the cloud-native space is worth the money, Civo is now turning its attention toward ramping up its already strong security posture. Kubernetes enables strict version control (and allows fast rollback) as vulnerabilities are discovered, but implementing these functions can be complex. Now Civo is extending its platform to provide more baked-in security controls for software application developers to use from the get-go, and Civo talks about the need to build a software pipeline that is “secure by design” using the open source IT stack, i.e. the foundations on which the organization is based.
Having originally pursued a motor racing career even Formula three Level, the CEO of Civo Boost left the racing network to connect to the early days of the World Wide Web and capitalize on his younger hobbyist artwork related to experimenting with bulletin board technologies. Logically moved with the times to emerging internet technologies, then launched a web design agency, which generated a larger scale hosting business and subsequent operation for small to medium sized data centers, owning and operating two data centers in the UK.
“My approach has always been about the relentless pursuit of an unparalleled level of customer service,” said Boost, who admits to being goal-oriented almost to fault. “Civo itself is kind of a reincarnated company born out of love for the hosting business. When we launched our LCN millennium ago, we did it without financing and were probably more stalwarts than pioneers in developing innovative technology. In creating a vision for Civo, I was determined to turn that on its head.” and positioning the company as a leader in innovation, while retaining that obsession with customer service.”
Having once faithfully followed the market as a kind of pragmatic business policy, Boost describes Civo as a company determined to lead change in an industry dominated by only a few—and that means designing the business around a few important core principles.
“We wanted to be the kind of company that people want to work with, work with, and work side by side as customers,” Boost said. “This means that we are transparent about pricing and therefore naturally avoid the hidden fees and installation mechanics typical of large capacitors. We are community focused from the start and have around 15,000 software engineers on our Slack community channel and post a wealth of free training video content. We exist not from Primarily for the profit of our shareholders, but for the prosperity of our team and those who work with us – and we have a definite commitment to sustainability too.”
While this picture of a “perfect world” may seem a bit cliché and fanciful to some, at the other end of the spectrum are some rather market control driven activities that the industry engages in from time to time. A quick Google of “free cloud credit for startups” offers some ideas here — and for startups that can already boast of venture capital funding, a welcome handshake is even warmer. Regulatory bodies such as OFCOM in the UKHowever, the FCC in the USA and similar organizations elsewhere are aware of the sensitivities in this area.
Boost also introduced a 4-day workweek for its employees as well as demonstrating its commitment to sustainability with Civo recently investing in (and starting a pilot project with) Heata, a startup that uses waste heat from servers to provide hot water to homes.
More than just vanilla
To create, engineer, build and support the cloud technology platform you now operate on, the company started with a pure open source software mindset and approach. Using the aforementioned lightweight Kubernetes distribution from Rancher Labs K3s, the company is going to market with a “more than just vanilla” version of K3s.
Civo offers what it calls additional “large-scale” networking power, a variety of storage add-on functionality, and has built its own “Kubernetes operators” — technology designed to take care of features like automatic scaling (when systems need to grow) and key operational aspects like controls High availability for IT systems that should always be on, which is most IT systems these days. Although Rancher was bought by German open source platform company SUSE in 2020, Civo has been able to work with open source K3s all along, especially since it was donated by Rancher to the non-profit Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). ).
“We’re currently less than 50 employees, but we’re beating our weight with respect to voice share, industry recognition, user engagement, and ambition to succeed,” said Boost. “Our largest markets are the USA, but we have a vibrant operating base in the UK and Europe, and have registered offices in all three countries. We describe ourselves as a cloud-native company that grew up in the original era of cloud (but perhaps with a boardroom team that remembers the times ex), and this gives us a proprietary approach and a market-facing technology proposition.”
The latest work from Civo sees the company collaborating with Intel in its new era Intel SGX (Software Guard Extensions), which provide “application isolation” control for advanced security “enclaves” implemented at the hardware level. Used with the chip giant’s next generation Sapphire Rapids server processors, this technology is an emerging technology that remains to be fully developed at the time of writing.
Obviously, AWS will refer to its Graviton3 processors and AMD is also developing technologies in this area, and the point here is not who or what, but if and when.
The cornerstone of new cloud companies
If Civo Boost and the team can provide four building blocks of how cloud-native companies can operate according to the vision and mantra the company has laid out so far, then the next four blocks might make sense.
This is a company committed to No. 1 – customer openness and clarity at the sales level; #2 Developer user experience through skills training, inclusiveness, accessibility, and community support; #3 Secure, cloud-native operations powered by Intel’s hardware-centric security in this case; #4 The customer’s ability to get a cost-effective, faster, and simpler cloud product.
Can Civo really revolutionize the massive cloud and their market dominance? The big three probably aren’t so concerned about their market share and ubiquity, and admittedly Civo is focused on a more mid-market customer base (i.e., contracts that are unlikely to be in the “tens of millions” of dollars, as It’s the standard fayre for Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and AWS) as of now.
While the dynamics of the cloud market may not experience an earthquake as a result of this discussion, there may be some jolts that occurred as a result of what might be a clean and fresh approach.