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Heptio co-founders Joe Beda, CTO, and Craig McLuckie, CEO, at their startup’s launch in November 2016. (Heptio Photo)

The founders of Heptio knew they were onto something big when they developed Kubernetes, the open-source container-orchestration product based on Google’s internal infrastructure. The venture capital community is starting to realize just how big this all might get.

Heptio has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by existing investor Madrona Venture Group, with participation from existing investor Accel Ventures and new investor Lightspeed Ventures, the company plans to announce Wednesday. Madrona’s Tim Porter will join the Heptio board as part of the deal, which CEO Craig McLuckie said helped seal the deal less than a year after the cloud startup made its debut. Heptio has raised $33.5 million in funding to date.

Based in Seattle, Heptio builds open-source software projects designed to make Kubernetes easier to use when managing containerized applications, and it also offers professional support services around one of the hottest products in enterprise technology this year. McLuckie and CTO Joe Beda, who spoke at our Cloud Tech Summit earlier this year, developed Kubernetes while working at Google with Brendan Burns, who is now at Microsoft.

That means they are in a unique position to understand what the project needs, having made the product-development decisions they did while at Google and helping to shepherd Kubernetes during the two years it has been a part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Kubernetes allows users to manage, deploy, and scale applications that have been broken down into containers, lightweight packages divorced from their underlying hardware that can be run across both public clouds and on-premises infrastructure.

“The opportunity we’re seeing inside the Kubernetes ecosystem is relatively unparalleled,” McLuckie said. “We see a huge body of work that we need to do with the community to see Kubernetes fulfil the promise of cloud-native computing.”

As with most startups in their early stages, Heptio plans to use the funding round to hire more engineers to work on products and services related to Kubernetes, he said. While the CNCF has been incubating several open-source software projects that have helped the Kubernetes community, “there’s a lot of engineering work that needs to be done to bring them together in a natural way,” he said.

Enterprise tech startups have been trying to build commercial operations around open-source technology for a long time now, with varying degrees of success. McLuckie declined to talk specifics about the money, but said “the revenue we’re generating justified a step function in funding.”

But he noted that a lot has changed since some of those first startups tried to build around open-source technology, McLuckie said.

“As we’ve started the company, we’ve leaned very heavily into the professional services side of the house, and the thing we found most heartening as we’ve grown the company is that sophisticated enterprises are actively participating in open source,” he said. Even companies outside of the technology industry have realized why open-source software is so attractive for enterprise computing, and when their engineers participate in these projects, it makes it easier for companies like Heptio to focus on more lucrative professional services gigs.

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