We’re thrilled to announce our investment in Slim.ai, an open source platform that automates the creation of fast and flexible containers for cloud native applications. Software has been eating the world, and containers now shoulder the weight of developers moving rapidly to the cloud. More than 10 million unique container registries are pulled several billion times each month to keep our digital world moving every day, and oversized containers are now limiting our ability to drive innovation and new feature development in existing products. Every software team wants to move fast without slowing down their infrastructure, and Slim.ai creates uniquely optimized containers for production without change, cost, or complexity for developers.
We are excited to partner with John Amaral and Kyle Quest, the founders of Slim.ai who were instrumental to the success of Cloudlock, a cloud security pioneer that was acquired by Cisco in 2016. We asked them to share their founding story in this Q&A:
John: Kyle and I both grew up in immigrant families and saw the impact that entrepreneurship could have on those who come from underprivileged backgrounds. My grandfather was a farmer and taught us early in life that if you wanted to make something happen, you had to do it with your own bare hands. We both have stories of how our families made something out of nothing and those experiences helped shape our journeys as founders. In today’s digital world, entrepreneurship starts with software, and increasingly the hard work of building something from scratch is now done by software developers. They are the creative force and the raw horsepower in our modern world, so we started a company that enables them to do their job every day.
Kyle: In every software team, there is always a race to build new features and deploy them in production. Everyone is under a tight timeline and as a result, we throw everything and the kitchen sink into our clouds to maximize developer productivity. Applications can unfortunately evolve into monolithic “icebergs” and most developers can only see what is above the water and nobody has the time to look underneath. This eventually catches up to you and you get bloated builds, bloated bills, and even security vulnerabilities. At every step of the process, everything starts to run more slowly.
John: Containers have now become the “Legos” for cloud native applications, and we knew we could make an immediate impact if we helped automate how these core blocks were built. There are millions of these container images deployed every day in the cloud, and Slim.ai makes it possible to optimize them for every team in an instant. Now, you get faster, slimmer, and safer containers without changing anything in your pipeline.
Kyle: I have been a user and fan of open source since the beginning of my career as a developer. One of my first jobs was in the network security space - we were large users of Snort, one of the first commercially successful open source companies, initially created by Marty Roesch, Founder of Sourcefire (acquired by Cisco). Open source has always resonated with me personally as a developer - I always look for products that are easy to use and don’t require me to change my existing developer tools. We initially chose to release an open source product, DockerSlim, that is frictionless and provides immediate results for anyone that wants to try the product. We found that thousands of software teams large and small have this immediate pain point, and everyone is looking for a simple solution that is easy to trial.
John: There is immediate joy when a developer sees a container shrink from 1.5 gigabytes to 1/10th or 1/20th the size automatically and this has compounding effects in speed, scalability, and cost. Beyond creating tangible product value, being an open source company is really about transparency and trust. As our company evolves, we want developers to understand who we are, how we work, and give them the opportunity to participate openly in our community.
John: The future of software is cloud-native applications based on containers, but the underlying complexity can be overwhelming for all software teams. We can’t expect humans to reverse engineer the answers and we need a new form of AI, what we call “Application Intelligence”, that automates the lower level work that slows down developers and deployments in production. This category of software will help development teams ship features faster while factoring in important decisions around cloud complexity, cost, performance, and even security. Perhaps unique to Slim.ai, we are leading with developer led products that solve these problems without introducing constraints into their toolchains. We believe that application intelligence will find its way into every step of the software development life cycle, and we’re excited to make this vision a reality.