As Kubernetes is being deployed for ever more mission critical workloads, keeping clusters up and running has become increasingly important for DevOps teams. Chkk, an early-stage startup, launched out of stealth today with a solution that looks for vulnerabilities that could take down a cluster and warns administrators before it happens.
It’s not only launching, and making the platform generally available, it also announced a prior $5.2 million seed investment led by Sequoia Capital.
The three founders — CEO Awais Nemat, CTO Fawad Khaliq and CPO Ali Khayam — know a little about Kubernetes, having worked together at AWS, helping keep Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service, the company’s Kubernetes offering, up and running.
They decided to put that knowledge to work to build a startup that helped mere mortal companies do the same with their Kubernetes clusters.
“Our first product is designed for enterprises who are running mission critical applications on Kubernetes infrastructure. We help them reduce availability risks, and prevent incidents and downtime from happening and help them operate safely and efficiently,” CEO Nemat told TechCrunch.
They do this by monitoring the clusters and sending alerts when there is a potential problem that could bring a cluster down, so the team can deal with it before there is a crisis situation. CTO Khaliq says that one of the things he learned at AWS was that the same set of issues afflicted customers repeatedly, but they didn’t set up a system to detect and prevent those issues.
“We came up with a very simple idea, simple to its core, that if there’s any error, incident or disruption that has happened anywhere in the world, we will learn about it,” he said. “Then we convert it to an availability risk signature, just like a virus signature, and we stream it to all of our customers where it will be scanned in their environments.”
He said in this way Chkk customers can proactively detect, identify and remediate availability risks before they cause outages.
The company launched last year, and has been working with early customers to refine the idea before launching this week. “Quite a few customers signed up and we’ve worked with a handful of companies very closely over this last eight months and they are running in their production environments with tens of clusters within each customer,” Nemat said.
The company currently has 15 employees, but they plan to be careful with hiring until they see how the product does in the market after this week’s general release. Nemat says as the company grows, the founding team is committed to building a diverse company.
“We believe in diversity, and we believe it’s not only good for us, it’s good for our customers. Taking diverse opinions helps us empathize with a broad range of customers and build better products simply by taking into account what [people from different backgrounds] think and discovering problems that you otherwise cannot find on your own,” Nemat said.
The company bootstrapped for the first year or so before closing the $5.2 million in funding from Sequoia in May. The startup name comes from the DOS check disk command, which was chkdsk, but instead of checking the status of the disk, the extra k is for checking the status of Kubernetes, a geeky inside joke.