Ubicloud wants to build an open source alternative to AWS


Ubicloud founders
Image Credits: Ubicloud

Using the large cloud computing providers is convenient, but not exactly cheap. Ubicloud, a new startup founded by the team behind Citus Data, which Microsoft acquired in 2019, wants to change the dynamics by offering a layer of core cloud computing services on top of affordable bare-metal servers from providers like Hetzner, OVH Cloud, Leaseweb and AWS. This includes a managed service and an open source version that allows developers to build their own cloud on bare-metal providers.

Currently, Ubicloud’s focus is on a small set of core components: compute and a PostgreSQL database service (Citus Data also bet heavily on PostgreSQL), in addition to the prerequisite networking capabilities to create public and private virtual networks. Attribute-based access controls are also built-in by default. Over time, the team plans to add a block storage feature and a Kubernetes-based container service as well.

Image Credits: Ubicloud

Co-founders Ozgun Erdogan and Umur Cubukcu previously built Citus Data, where they also met Daniel Farina, who previously was instrumental in building Heroku PostgreSQL. During his time at Microsoft, he also worked on several core Azure services. Citus Data was part of the Y Combinator summer 2011 cohort and after his time at Microsoft, Cubukcu went back to the accelerator as a visiting partner in 2023.

“We obviously built our careers and what we have on the cloud itself, right? Citus Data wouldn’t have been possible without it,” Cubukcu said. “We are absolutely big fans of the cloud. At the same time […], we’ve been in it for such a long time and we see where there’s actually ways to do it better, or do it simpler.”

He acknowledges that Ubicloud won’t replace the full breadth of AWS offerings. But he argues that the majority of the value is in maybe 10% of those offerings and he believes that the Ubicloud managed service can offer that to developers at a lower price and with a simpler developer experience. “The delta between the hardware costs and what the hyperscalers are charging has gotten progressively larger. It used to be that you’d see lots of price drops, but that’s not quite happening anymore,” he said. Later, he also noted that one area where there has been progress is egress fees, which helps a service like Ubicloud.

Developers on Ubicloud will be able to choose where they want to host their services. Right now, the team told me, one of the sweet spots for Ubicloud is running GitHub Action runners. The company is also seeing a number of users who spin up machines for long-running workloads on the platform, as well as solid demand for its PostgreSQL database service.

Erdogan stressed that a Kubernetes platform is also on the way, which in turn will allow the team to offer more features on top of its infrastructure-as-a-service layer.

If you’ve been around the cloud for long enough, then an open source competitor to AWS may sound a bit familiar. Ever since the dawn of hyberscale clouds, we’ve seen projects that aimed to provide the core AWS services, mostly for on-premises use cases. The poster child here is OpenStack, which went through its own boom and bust cycle, but has found stable ground in recent years.

The Ubicloud team, however, argues that its approach is quite different. “OpenStack is from a different era,” Cubukcu said. “It reminds me […] a bit of Hadoop, where there is a consortium where a lot of different companies are coming together. It is open, yes, but then it supports 10 different flavors of operating systems and hypervisors — and in order to make it work, you really need an army of people. It is a solution, but you don’t have, for example, a managed OpenStack-as-a-service, right? It’s too complicated for that, whereas with Ubicloud, our managed service is available from day one. You sign up, you can start using it in two minutes.”

Similarly, Erdogan noted that today’s open source landscape is quite different. That allows Ubicloud to use existing open source projects for its virtual networking and storage services, for example. “Fifteen years ago, all those service [that are on the Ubicloud roadmap] did not have open source data plane components. These days, for the core services, all of those now have good open source alternatives, barring maybe one or two,” he said.

Ubicloud also today announced that it has raised a $16 million seed round, which closed in early January. Among the investors are Y Combinator and 500 Emerging Europe, as well as a number of angel investors.

The company currently has 10 employees, split between San Francisco, Amsterdam (where the Citus Data team built a small engineering team during the team’s Microsoft days) and Istanbul.

AWS follows Google in announcing unrestricted free data transfers to other cloud providers

Microsoft acquires Citus Data

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

12 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

14 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android