AWS currently has over a $70B run rate so it may come as a surprise to some people that most workloads running on it are using an operating system that is 30 years old and is essentially the same as an even older operating system that is 50 years old. This operating system was built for real physical computers – not the virtual ones that developers spin up on Amazon and Google Cloud. Of course we are talking about Linux.
You’d think after 30 years there might be different views on running those workloads and NanoVMs thinks so with its various commercial offerings and its flagship open source Nanos unikernel.
NanoVMs claims to be able to run workloads such as Go and Rust web servers up to 200% faster on GCP and up to 300% faster on AWS – all with no users, no passwords, no shells, no remote access of any kind. In fact the unikernel acts like its own operating system running one and only one application versus another that a hacker might want to run.
NanoVMs has revenue from over ten different countries with customers in production for over two years now. They built their advanced R&D with backing from early investors such as Initialized Capital, Bloomberg Beta and famed cybersecurity investors such as Ron Gula from Gula Tech Ventures. They have multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the US Air Force.
How big of a market do they operate in though? The devops market is approaching $15B, exploding to $30B in the next five years, while cybersecurity is reaching over $100B in the next few years. Unikernels represent an unique category creation as their end-users are clearly devops professionals, yet they bring security benefits you won’t find in the conference halls of BlackHat or RSA. The ecosystem has very deep moats as well, as at the end of the day even though it’s Linux binary compatible it is a new operating system.
Github, alone boasts having 83M software developers and in order to get the word out about the technology NanoVMs has launched an equity crowdfunding campaign that allows ordinary investors to invest in the company.
However, it would be wrong to speak of just the number of software engineers. Many tech companies are now built on open source software, each with their own massive valuations. Whether it’s MongoDB, ElasticSearch, Redis Labs, Confluent, Databricks – the list is seemingly endless – it all runs on open source software and guess what operating system that code runs on? That’s right, Linux. Even without modifying any of the code many of these companies’ projects run faster and safer as a unikernel than on Linux. If you do a quick google search you’ll see there are easily north of ten different vendors for something like ElasticSearch. The fact that even one vendor for one software application can potentially cause a lot of ruckus starts to detail the amount of turbulence this technology is going to generate. The TAM for this market, existing software being provisioned as unikernels, is explosive and volatile as now all these vendors have a new path to build better software and provide deep value differentiation.
Google published a series of papers that eventually turned into a book called “The Datacenter as a Computer: An Introduction to the Design of Warehouse-Scale Machines”. In it Google details how they operate entire warehouses filled with row upon row of racks on top of racks of servers and treat it as a single entity. Unikernels deal with the reality that the cloud, for many companies, is the new operating system even though developers still micromanage hundreds to thousands of fake virtual machines pretending they are real even if the intention is to only run a single application.
There is a new age of virtualization finally breaking the shackles of decades of stagnation in the operating system space. Unikernels aren’t just providing better security and higher performance at a lower cost, they are breaking long standing barriers that applications have been constrained to because of their dependence on systems built and architectures designed, in some cases, before the software developers using them were even born.
To learn more about NanoVMs or about how you might invest, check out https://invest.nanovms.com.