Pulumi aims to become standard cloud dev platform

Aiming to help developers build and scale applications for multi-cloud environments, Seattle-based startup Pulumi has delivered a cloud development platform.

Pulumi aims to greatly simplify the hassle for developers to build applications for multiple cloud platforms.

The Seattle-based startup, led by former Microsoft and AWS executives, has devised a new, open source cloud development platform that enables developers to use a single, consistent approach to build cloud-native apps using containers, serverless functions, APIs and infrastructure.

Pulumi CEO Joe Duffy and Chairman Eric Rudder -- both former Microsoft developer tools experts -- conceived the idea for Pulumi in Duffy's basement in late 2016 and founded the company in 2017, after they ran into problems building and scaling apps for multiple clouds.

"There was no real standard approach to modern multi-cloud software development," Rudder said.

Lack of cross-cloud portability of platform-specific scripting and software development kits has long hindered multi-cloud ease of use for developers, said Rhett Dillingham, senior cloud services analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy in Austin, Texas.

Joe Duffy, CEO of PulumiJoe Duffy

"While Kubernetes is addressing this gap through multi-cloud container orchestration, its community is still early in its efforts to address serverless with its CloudEvents project and potentially develop a cross-architecture construct via the Metaparticle project," he said. "Pulumi's open source, multi-cloud coding platform across container and serverless architectures takes an exciting approach to more immediately addressing this developer tools gap."

Kubernetes helps ease some complexity for developers at the very base of the cloud stack, but it scratches the surface, Duffy said. Pulumi fills in some of the gaps to help developers build holistic cloud apps that use containers, serverless, infrastructure and data.

"Multi-cloud is getting more and more important for the development of next-generation applications," said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research. "It's good to see startup activity investing into this space, helping developers to get their code artifacts in multiple languages deployed faster to multiple clouds."

Pulumi platform capabilities

The Pulumi platform consists of two parts. Pulumi Core is a set of open source tools and packages to develop apps and infrastructure for any cloud using familiar programming languages. Pulumi Service is an environment to move code to any cloud, manage deployed Pulumi stacks, and collaborate and integrate into existing workflows, Duffy said.

The platform helps bring developers and DevOps teams closer together with the tools they need to collaborate and build modern apps, and it leaves the decision of whether something is a development or ops task to policy and skills, Duffy said.

Pulumi supports JavaScript, TypeScript, Python and Go languages, as well as the AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform clouds, and Kubernetes.

Pulumi's open source, multi-cloud coding platform ... takes an exciting approach to more immediately addressing this developer tools gap.
Rhett Dillinghamanalyst, Moor Insights and Strategy

Learning Machine, a blockchain-based digital identity and credentials provider, was Pulumi's first customer. Last summer, a Learning Machine client's requirements nearly necessitated a rewrite of thousands of lines of code for each new cloud environment they supported. Instead, with a one-time port to the Pulumi cloud programming model, the firm retired 25,000 lines of code, said Dan Hughes, COO at Learning Machine.

"Pulumi unified our approach to different cloud platforms and made DevOps a feature that the whole team is now a part of," he said. "We have Pulumi baked into everything we do now and consider them a critical enabler of our global expansion."

Pulumi secured $5 million in seed funding from Madrona Venture Group and Tola Capital, after which S. Somasegar, managing director of Madrona and former corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer division, joined Pulumi's board.

A big part of the reason they decided to open source core parts of the Pulumi framework and tools is to build a vibrant community around the platform and let that community evolve it as a standard for how developers can build, deploy and manage cloud-native applications in a multi-cloud world, he said.

Pulumi pedigree

Duffy worked at Microsoft for 12 years -- all focused on developer tools -- and headed up the effort to open source the .NET platform. Rudder held numerous executive technical positions at Microsoft and was once considered a "Baby Bill" and possible heir apparent to Bill Gates as a Microsoft technical visionary.

Rudder also headed up Microsoft's server and tools unit and the exploratory Midori project to create a non-Windows operating system. Meanwhile, the team brought in Luke Hoban from AWS as CTO. They knew Hoban from his time at Microsoft, where he was part of the team that built TypeScript and also worked on Visual Studio Code, two of Microsoft's most successful open source projects. The 13-person team also includes Donna Malayeri, a former senior Microsoft engineer who worked on the F# language and Azure Functions.

"The deep expertise and years of experience in developer-related efforts that the company's [founders] offer should help set Pulumi and its solutions well apart from the crowd," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

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