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Rafay Systems Looks To Ease Kubernetes Adoption With SaaS

Fresh off an $8 million Series A round, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup has introduced a platform for quickly deploying Kubernetes orchestrated apps onto any environment.

Fresh off an $8 million Series A round, Rafay Systems has released a platform that aims to ease deployment of Kubernetes clusters and lifecycle management of containerized apps across any cloud.

The startup based in Sunnyvale, Calif. sees complexity as the biggest roadblock to Kubernetes adoption, and a Software-as-a-Service delivery model as the key to simplification, Rafay co-founder and CEO Haseeb Budhani told CRN.

"Complexity is the big issue," Budhani said. "These are incredible technologies, but they're too hard, too complex for a typical DevOps team to consume."

[Related: Platform9 CEO Sirish Raghuram On The Road From OpenStack To Kubernetes]

Once companies choose containerization as a model for modernizing their applications as micro-services, they typically select Kubernetes, the industry's predominant platform for orchestrating container cluster, he said.

That's when the time-consuming process starts of building DevOps teams that create the automation frameworks sitting on top of Kubernetes to make sure apps are properly deployed and run well across all an enterprise's IT environments.

"Every company is solving the same problem again and again," Budhani said. "Every company has to solve this set of problems, everywhere. Whether Rafay exists or not."

And the challenge is often exacerbated by the gamut of DevOps tools on the market, he said.

That burden encountered by DevOps teams will likely slow Kubernetes adoption and stall transformations to modern software delivery methods.

"Everybody runs many small clusters now, so if you have many clusters you need a much better operational framework," he said.

Rafay's founders saw an opportunity in the market for a SaaS-based service that organizations could lean on to deploy Kubernetes clusters, be it on Amazon Web Services or another public cloud, or in on-premises environments such as Red Hat's OpenShift or VMware's emerging Kubernetes platforms.

The offering rapidly speeds time to market, Budhani said, and reduces the need to hire Kubernetes experts—a skillset increasingly difficult to stock a team with.

Rafay abstracts Kubernetes deployment and management, allowing operations teams to check a box rather than write a YAML script. It offers cluster blueprinting, multi-cluster operations and integrations with other services such as secrets management and metrics aggregation.

The service leverages Rafay's own cluster federation technology and also packages popular open source tools, from fluentd to Prometheus, to make those more consumable.

"We have to make sure we are doing what is best of breed," he said.

Customers can bring in any Kubernetes distro or service, their preferred CI/CD tools and registries, and the "onus is on us to work with that," he said.

Budhani and much of his team started the company in 2017 after leaving CDN heavyweight Akamai, which acquired Budhani's previous company, SOHA Systems, in 2016.

And while Rafay, in this early stage, is still selling direct, its CEO sees a natural channel for his company. Systems integrators, he said, are performing the same function for their customers by throwing people at the problem.

To that end, he hopes to make Rafay's first channel announcement by the end of the year.

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