Matt Butcher and Radu Matei worked on container technologies for years; “containers” in this context referring to software packages containing all the necessary elements to run in any environment, from desktop PCs to servers. As engineers at Deis, and then DeisLabs once Microsoft acquired it in 2017, their team explored the container landscape and built the package manager Helm as well as Brigade and other tooling.
Along the journey, they faced myriad problems with containers — namely speed and cost. The setbacks spurred them and a handful of other DeisLabs veterans to found Fermyon, which today closed a $20 million Series A funding round led by Insight Partners with participation from Amplify Partners and angel investors. Fermyon offers a managed cloud service, Fermyon Cloud, that allows developers to quickly build microservices, or pieces of apps that work independently, but together (e.g. if one microservice fails, it won’t bring down the others).
“Fermyon is building the next wave of cloud services atop WebAssembly,” Butcher said, referring to the open standard that allows web browsers to run binary code. “Originally written for the browser, WebAssembly has all of the earmarks of an excellent cloud compute platform … [Its] combination of features got us excited. Fermyon set out to build a suite of tools that enables developers to build, deploy and then operate WebAssembly binaries in a cloud context.”
Butcher argues WebAssembly is superior to containers in a number of respects, such as start-up time and compatibility across operating systems including Windows, Linux and Mac plus hardware platforms like Intel and Arm. It’s also more secure, he asserts, because it can safely execute even untrusted code.
To explore WebAssembly’s container-replacing potential, Fermyon developed Spin, an open source dev tool for creating WebAssembly cloud apps. Fermyon Cloud is the evolution of this work, providing a platform where customers can host those apps.
Fermyon Cloud lets devs create up to five web apps or microservices and run them in a hosted environment for free. In addition to hosting applications, the service delivers release management, log access and app configuration from a web console.
With employees now in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, Fermyon’s focus is continuing to build out both its open source and commercial projects, Butcher said. Fermyon Cloud will expand into an “enterprise-ready” commercial offering in the coming months, he added, as Fermyon looks to double its 20-person headcount by mid-2023 — emphasizing product, marketing, developer relations and community roles.
“We are well-positioned to weather macro-economic storms due to the financing we’re announcing today,” said Butcher while declining to reveal revenue figures. “[We] have funds to last us several years.”
To date, Colorado-based Fermyon has raised $26 million.