Drone.io, Packet team on free continuous delivery service for open-source developers

Drone.io, makers of the open-source Drone continuous integration/continuous delivery tool (CI/CD), announced Drone Cloud today, a new CI/CD cloud service that it’s making available for free to open-source projects. The company is teaming with Packet, which is offering to run the service for free on its servers.

Drone.io co-founder Brad Rydzewski says his company is “a container-native continuous delivery platform, and its goal is to help automate the developer workflow from testing to release.” Continuous delivery is an approach built on cloud-native, the idea that you can manage cloud and on prem with single set of management tools. From a developer standpoint, it relies on containers as a way to continuously deliver application updates as changes happen.

As part of that approach, the newly announced Drone Cloud provides a publicly hosted CI/CD cloud offering. “It’s free for the open-source community. So it’s an open source only offering. There’s no paid plan, and it’s only available to public GitHub repositories,” Rydzewski explained.

Rydzewski says the service was born out of a need for his own project. He found it hard to find publicly hosted solutions that offered a way to test a variety of operating systems and chip architectures. “It’s really something we needed for ourselves. The Drone community wanted to run Drone on Windows on Arm 64 processors. We actually had no way to build and test the software on these platforms because there was just no publicly hosted solution that we could use,” he explained.

When they decided to build this solution for themselves, they figured it was going to be useful to other open-source projects that also want to ship and support multiple operating systems and architectures. They got Packet on board to offer the infrastructure.

Packet offers a variety of server options with different operating systems and chips, and Rydzewski says this was an important consideration for the open-source developers who will take advantage of this service. Packet is making the latest Intel Xeon Scalable, AMD EPYC and Arm-based servers available to users of the Drone Cloud service for free as part of a multi-year donation to support the project.

“As open source software is deployed to increasingly diverse environments, from traditional data centers to cars and even drones, the need for multi-architecture builds has exploded,” Jacob Smith, co-founder and CMO at Packet said in a statement. This is Packet’s way of supporting that effort.

Drone does not intend to establish a paid layer for Drone Cloud, according to Rydzewski, but he hopes it shows what Drone can do, which in turn could attract some developers to the paid version of the product. In addition to supporting the open-source version, the company offers a paid version that can be installed on premises as a part of a private cloud-native development environment.