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Seattle’s Upbound. (Upbound Photo)

If you’re a company that wants to run workloads across multiple cloud providers but need some help making it happen, you might want to check out Crossplane.

Crossplane is the latest cloud open-source project from the team at Upbound, which previously developed Rook. The idea behind Crossplane is to give multicloud users a common “control plane” over which they can manage applications deployed across different cloud providers, said Bassam Tabbara, co-founder and CEO of the Seattle startup.

“The cloud is continuing to eat open source, and the only way to get open source to essentially compete with cloud providers is if you level the playing field around a control plane,” Tabbara said, referring to the existential worries of several enterprise tech companies built around open-source projects in the cloud age.

Think of a control plane as an automated air-traffic control tower that oversees landings and takeoffs at a busy modern airport. The term comes from networking, but in cloud computing it generally means an automated system that controls how applications run across multiple environments.

Crossplane is based around Kubernetes, the popular container-orchestration project that allows users to deploy containers across clusters of machines at cloud providers or in-house data centers. It adds another layer by giving users the ability to deploy more complex workloads and managed databases across those environments through an API, Tabbara said.

Eventually Crossplane could help users automate deployment practices such as specifying which cloud provider — and which region inside that cloud provider’s network — should run a given application depending on how and where it is used. If it works as designed, this could make it much easier to manage a multicloud environment, which is an undertaking most companies do for strategic rather than practical reasons at the moment.

Crossplane will support workloads running in Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, Upbound said. The company doesn’t plan to submit the project just yet to a foundation like the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which hosts the Rook project.

Upbound has raised $9 million from GV and others to work on open-source projects based around Kubernetes and multicloud computing. Tabbara spoke about some of its work earlier this year at our GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit, and a video of that presentation follows below.

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