Running a multi-cloud strategy where you use different cloud vendors for different workloads helps companies avoid vendor lock-in and lets them use the best-of-breed tools across different platforms. But the downside is that programmers have to write code to make their applications work on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.
That’s because each company connects to its services in different ways, forcing programmers to write three different sets of connectors. It’s expensive and time consuming, but Wing Cloud wants to change that by building an abstraction layer that lets programmers write once and use the same code across all three cloud services.
Today, the company came out of stealth and announced a hefty $20 million seed round to build Winglang, a unified programming language for the cloud.
Over his decades of experience as an engineer, Wing Cloud co-founder and CEO Elad Ben-Israel, says he has seen companies struggle with managing applications across clouds, and he wanted to build something that helped solve that very challenging problem.
“We’re basically creating this API that’s common to all of the providers,” Ben-Israel said. Wing has been able to take advantage of the common elements in things like storage and servers, so that programmers can write once, and use it across these different clouds. The first thing the startup has created is an open source programming language called Winglang.
As Ben-Israel describes it, Winglang is abstracting away the details of programming across these platforms for developers, making it easier to deploy wherever they need to. “The Winglang compiler produces a ready-to-deploy package that includes both infrastructure-as-code definitions for Terraform, CloudFormation, or other cloud provisioning engines; as well as Node.js code designed to run on compute platforms such as AWS Lambda, Kubernetes, or edge platforms,” the company said.
Ben-Israel says that while this kind of tool has been needed for a long time, it’s a matter of combining being in the right place at the right time with the right set of skills and understanding of the problem.
Prior to launching Wing Cloud last year, Ben-Israel was an engineer at AWS, where he helped develop the AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK), a tool designed to help programmers transition their applications to the cloud more easily. This experience gave him a deeper understanding of what was required to build a tool like Winglang to work not just on AWS, but other clouds as well.
The commercial version of the product, which is in private beta, will offer companies a way to manage the operations side of multicloud deployment. Once you’ve deployed your applications across multiple clouds, it helps manage the applications through a unified model.
Ben-Israel says it’s early and they are still working at developing a complex set of tools. That’s partly the reason for such a big seed, because it takes some capital to build something like this, but the company is seeing signals of interest in such a tool, like a Slack channel with over 600 members, 1.3K stars on GitHub and 30-40 people from the community working with them on the open source project, which he says is a big number for such a tool at such an early stage.
The company currently has 16 employees, but with the money, will probably be adding engineers over the year. Ben-Israel says that the general make-up of the engineering market is such that he has to be intentional if he wants to get a more diverse group of people, and he is trying to do that, even early on. At one point, he noted that the team was distinctly male, and made the conscious choice to find a female engineer with the next opening.
“We said we’re just going to look at female engineers as an example of being intentional, and it worked,” he said. He said they weren’t pressed to get another person at the time, and he saw that as an opportunity to prioritize female engineers to make sure that the company has reasonable balance. He admits it’s still not ideal, but he is aware and trying to keep his team balanced as possible.
Today’s $20 million announcement is really two tranches of money: The original $15 million seed closed in the third quarter last year and a $5 million extension closed in April. The investment was led by Battery Ventures, Grove Ventures and StageOne Ventures, with participation from Secret Chord Ventures, Cerca Partners, Operator Partners and a host of prominent industry angels.