Isovalent CEO: Startup Raises $40M In Funding To Develop The Next Wave Of SDN

‘We’re not just moving from hardware to software networking. We’re adding intelligence, the ability to understand workloads, workload identities, API calls, error codes and more. We’re the networking layer as it goes into the OS,’ says Isovalent co-founder and CEO Dan Wendlandt.


Isovalent CEO and Co-founder Dan Wendlandt

Isovalent, developer of the eBPF open-source observability technology and its Cilium enterprise counterpart, Wednesday unveiled a $40 million funding round that brought in Microsoft and Grafana Labs as strategic investors.

With this new B round of funding, total investment in Isovalent has now reached $69 million.

Microsoft and Grafana Labs, the New York-based developer of a multiplatform open-source analytics and interactive visualization web application, join Google and Cisco Systems as strategic investors.

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Other investors in Cupertino, Calif.-based Isovalent include Thomvest Ventures, which led the new round, as well as Andreessen Horowitz, Mango Capital and Mirae Asset Capital.

Isovalent is an infrastructure layer company focused on networking and security, said co-founder and CEO Dan Wendlandt.

Among the investors is Martin Casado, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz and co-founder of Nicira, the pioneer of software-defined networking that was acquired in 2021 by VMware.

Wendlandt, who was employee No. 5 at Nicira, told CRN that Isovalent is developing the next wave of SDN.

“We’re not just moving from hardware to software networking,” he said. “We’re adding intelligence, the ability to understand workloads, workload identities, API calls, error codes and more. We’re the networking layer as it goes into the OS.”

eBPF, which previously was short for extended Berkeley Packet Filter, allows Linux applications to execute code in the Linux kernel while providing observability, networking and security.

“eBPF teaches the Linux kernel new tricks,” Wendlandt said. “It lets us safely and efficiently load new technologies into Linux and do Kubernetes identity. So it doesn’t just let an application see the connection to Port 80, but sees the API as well. It works with any Linux workload. Even Microsoft is adding eBPF. Two years ago, I never would have expected that.”

Port 80 is the port number assigned to the HTTP protocol.

Cilium, meanwhile, is a higher-level version of eBPF that abstracts the technology to make it easier to use in programming.

“Isovalent contributed Cilium to the CNCF, or Cloud Native Computing Foundation, open-source Linux project,” Wendlandt said. “This makes sure there’s a broader governance to the project. It makes a safe umbrella for those large cloud companies to invest knowing it will remain open.”

Wendlandt said it has been a goal of Isovalent’s to make Cilium a leading technology in the cloud.

“The fact that Microsoft is investing in Isovalent means that all three top cloud providers have Kubernetes managed services,” he said. “Google and Amazon already default to Cilium. While we’re not announcing Microsoft integration, you can see that Microsoft will work with us on Cilium to make sure it connects in an efficient and easy to use way.”

The new funding will help Isovalent rapidly expand its team, Wendlandt said.

“When you have an open-source project, you need to feed the open-source community while supporting enterprise customers,” he said. “We are also investing in expanding the Cilium Service Mesh.”