ClusterHQ: What Happened?!

Opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of MRD.

The last couple years seemed to have been incapable of closing quietly; and rather, with unfortunate, disappointing, and even saddening surprises. Year-end 2015 saw Linode hit by an aggressive sustained DDoS and the passing of Ian Murdock, a pioneer in Linux and Open Source with wide and lasting influence. The close of 2016 also came with a surprise.

If you've been following the hotness of containerization, and hopefully you have because otherwise it means you're not paying attention to the industry and haven't for a while, you might have noticed an interesting start-up company called ClusterHQ. Well... they (i.e. the CEO) officially announced a shutdown on their site. The reasons have been written unofficially by staff on discussion groups simply as follows.

"There were many factors, but the largest one was lack of sufficient venture capital funding to follow through with plans. The plan was to raise round A funding two years ago (which we did) and then raise round B funding now before becoming profitable 2 to 3 years from now. Venture capitalists have become far more risk adverse. We all thought that round B funding would happen, but it fell apart at the last minute and instead of announcing round B funding, Mark announced a shutdown."

Mark, to which this refers, is the CEO. There may be more disclosed later about what written other factors were and a sense of how much, if at all, they contributed to not securing round B.

ClusterHQ is best known for Flocker, which is technology providing stateful containerization in distributed high-availability architecture without breaking fundamental best practices of containerization (i.e. use data volumes). When first seeing the term stateful containerization and for a while, it seemed synonymous with ClusterHQ. Those guys had foresight, realized it, and showed talent. It's hard to understand how they weren't able to secure round B funding, but I'm going to guess anyway. And mind you, it's just a guess.

The community around Kubernetes has grown VERY much in 2016. And around mid-year, even stateful containerization was introduced, which graduated to beta December 13th; just a week and change before ClusterHQ announced shutting down. You're probably thinking - Now hold on! Kubernetes is orchestration technology, that competes or compliments the likes of Marathon! And you'd be correct; however, state in containerization seems a natural fit for orchestration. Technology investors or their advisors probably noticed that, and certainly the growth of Kubernetes.

But there's more to ClusterHQ that potential round B investors may have overlooked - FlockerHub. With increasing importance, data shouldn't be overlooked. And that's precisely for what FlockerHub is a solution - due importance of data. And besides, some may not need full orchestration technology for proper stateful containerization; for which Flocker would still and should be a perfect solution. No?

With regard to the open source ClusterHQ developed at a critical time in the burgeoning containerization space, staff went on to write, again unofficially on discussion groups, "The ownership of the code is in limbo until the investors decide what to do with it at least a few months from now".