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Aiven, a Finnish company that provides managed open source data technologies on most of the major public clouds, today announced it has raised $150 million in a series C round of funding.
Open source software, by many estimations, has eaten the world, and it now intersects with just about every piece of software from scripts that help servers run faster to systems architecture and APIs. Enterprises are adopting open source software more than ever, a shift accelerated by factors such as the push toward cloud computing and the ongoing pandemic. However, despite the well-established benefits that open source software brings to the table such as lower costs and more flexibility, there remains a lot of friction in using open source software — it can be time-consuming to set up, and it requires specific expertise and resources in related domains such as cybersecurity and maintenance. This is where Aiven comes into play.
Founded in 2016, Aiven manages companies’ open source data infrastructure in the cloud, freeing developers to focus on building applications. With support for AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Azure, Digital Ocean, and UpCloud, users are free to shift data between clouds or even adopt a multi-cloud approach.
“We give our customers the freedom of choice — their data is not locked to one vendor or system, but they can migrate from one cloud to another with a click of a button,” Aiven cofounder and CEO Oskari Saarenmaa told VentureBeat.
Aiven offers fully managed services across nine core open source projects, including Apache Kafka, M3, MySQL, Redis, InfluxDB, Apache Cassandra, Elasticsearch, PostgreSQL, and Grafana, and includes all the necessary support such as end-to-end security, maintenance, and 24/7 monitoring. Additionally, Aiven maintains other open source projects such as Pghoard, a backup and restore service for PostgreSQL.
The Helsinki-based startup works with companies across sectors and claims a number of high-profile enterprise clients, such as Atlassian, Comcast, and Toyota.
“Many of our customers are medium to large companies that generate massive amounts of data and need a modern infrastructure to iterate on this data faster,” Saarenmaa said. “For example, we work with a few large retail companies who are moving data between their physical stores, ecommerce site, warehouse, and more. On the Aiven platform, these companies can build a customized data infrastructure in the public cloud that allows them to move this data quicker and gain insights from their data pipelines.”
Prior to now, Aiven had raised around $50 million across several funding rounds. Its latest funding round was spearheaded by European VC juggernaut Atomico, with participation from Salesforce Ventures, World Innovation Lab, Earlybird Venture Capital, and IVP. With another $100 million in the bank (and an $800 million valuation), the company said that it plans to allocate a “significant part” of its financing to growing its contributions to pure open source projects, as well as bring new products to market and expand internationally. Moreover, the company said that it plans to double its headcount over the next 12 months, and it plans to open a dedicated open source program office to drive its own contributions to open source projects.
“We are recruiting Elasticsearch, Kafka, and PostgreSQL open source developers,” Saarenmaa said, adding that it plans to hire at least 10 full-time open source developers in the next year.
“Our customers come to Aiven to build their data infrastructure on open source, and Aiven will continue to only support software licenses backed by the community,” Saarenmaa said.
Other notable players in this space include Confluent and Redis Labs, which have raised $350 million between them in the past year to commercialize open source projects, while publicly traded MongoDB and Salesforce-owned Heroku are also comparable. While Aiven is setting out to differentiate in several ways, Saarenmaa acknowledged that in the open source sphere, there is a fine line between friends and rivalry in the open source realm.
“We stand out with a fully managed, open-source, multi-cloud offering,” Saarenmaa said. “However, in the open source world, your competitors are often also your collaborators, as many developers must work together to build on open source projects and contribute to the community.”
This echoes sentiments recently conveyed by Microsoft, which noted that “open source is now the accepted model” for cross-company collaboration.
It’s worth noting that a lot of commotion arose in the commercial open source realm in recent years, when companies that have monetized open source projects they maintain decide to impose stricter limits on their licenses. For example, Elastic, the private company that develops the open source NoSQL database Elasticsearch and the associated data visualization dashboard Kibana, recently confirmed that it was switching its licensing arrangements to restrict cloud service providers from offering these tools “as-a-service”. As a result, Amazon’s AWS revealed it was forking both Elasticsearch and Kibana, a project that Aiven itself is helping to support moving forward.
“We only support community-backed open source products and community licenses, rather than closing off our products with more restrictive licenses, as some of our competitors have done,” Saarenmaa added. “We have always been committed to open source and will continue to support the open source community by contributing to new and existing projects.”
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