Power

HashiCorp thinks turning raw code into running apps should be easier. So it built a new tool.

Waypoint, the latest open-source project from one of the most valuable private companies in cloud tech, should make life far more straightforward for software developers.

​HashiCorp co-founders Armon Dadgar and Mitchell Hashimoto with CEO Dave McJannet.

HashiCorp co-founders Armon Dadgar and Mitchell Hashimoto and CEO Dave McJannet see a big oppurtunity in making life easier for software developers.

Photo: HashiCorp

HashiCorp hopes to make life easier for software developers with a new tool that automates the steps required to build, deploy and release an application onto cloud services or tools like Kubernetes.

On Thursday, the second day of its virtual HashiConf event, the company plans to unveil a new project called Waypoint. It will allow users to automatically configure their software development pipeline with their preferred tools, saving developers from having to configure and package their code in order to take their applications from concept to reality.

"In some sense, Waypoint is glue," said Armon Dadgar, co-founder and co-CTO of HashiCorp, in an interview with Protocol ahead of the event. "It glues all of those things together under a pretty abstraction for the developer, so they don't have to think about it or care about it."

Waypoint is the latest project from one of the most valuable private companies in cloud tech, a 1,000-person cloud infrastructure organization worth $5 billion that seems poised to join the ranks of newly public cloud companies at some point in the not-so-distant future. HashiCorp's tools, currently based on six open-source projects, help all kinds of companies — from startups to multinational corporations — get their applications up and running on cloud services. The company, co-founded in 2012 by Dadgar and fellow University of Washington computer science student Mitchell Hashimoto, has raised almost $350 million so far.

Over the last several years, forward-thinking software teams have embraced a concept called DevOps. The idea is that software developers and operations engineers should work more closely together over the course of the process than they had in the past.

Most developers write code in a development environment like Visual Studio Code, and test it with tools such as Selenium or CircleCI. That code winds up running on cloud providers like AWS, self-managed servers or an abstraction layer like Kubernetes and is evaluated with monitoring software like DataDog or Prometheus by operations engineers.

Waypoint addresses the middle stage of this process, where raw code is "built" into a format that computers can recognize, deployed to its destination, and released into the world, Dadgar said.

"There are very few developers who care if [their software runs] on a [virtual machine], containers or serverless," Dadgar said. Operations people, however, care very much where the code winds up, and with Waypoint they can give developers a tool with default settings that automates the build, deploy and release process for developers with a single command, he said, saving both the developer and the ops person from a tedious task.

There are lots of commercial tools that also address these steps, but HashiCorp thinks many of the alternatives on the market, known as continuous delivery tools, make it hard to figure out what happened when inevitable errors occur. There are also development platforms like Cloud Foundry designed for these needs, but they force developers to use a one-size-fits-all process that doesn't necessarily make sense inside companies with lots of different types of applications, Dadgar said.

At some point, HashiCorp will likely add a managed version of Waypoint to its stable of services, but for now the project will be available under a permissive open-source license. At launch, Waypoint supports cloud deployment services such as AWS' ECS, Microsoft's Azure Container Instances and Google Cloud Run, as well as Kubernetes and Docker.

Protocol | Workplace

Instacart workers are on strike. How far can it get them?

Instacart activists want a nationwide strike to start today, but many workers are too afraid of the company and feel they can't afford a day off of work.

Gig workers protest in front of an Amazon facility in 2020.

Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Starting today, an Instacart organizing group is asking the app's gig workers to go on a nationwide strike to demand better payment structures, benefits and other changes to the way the company treats its workers — but if past strikes are any indication, most Instacart users probably won't even notice.

The majority of Instacart workers on forums like Reddit and Facebook appear either unaware of the planned strike or don't plan to participate because they are skeptical of its power, afraid of retaliation from the company or are too reliant on what they do make from the app to be able to afford to take even one day off of the platform. "Not unless someone is going to pay my bills," "It will never work, you will never be able to get every shopper to organize" and "Last time there was a 'strike' Instacart took away our quality bonus pay," are just a few of the comments Instacart shoppers have left in response to news of the strike.

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Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

The way we work has fundamentally changed. COVID-19 upended business dealings and office work processes, putting into hyperdrive a move towards digital collaboration platforms that allow teams to streamline processes and communicate from anywhere. According to the International Data Corporation, the revenue for worldwide collaboration applications increased 32.9 percent from 2019 to 2020, reaching $22.6 billion; it's expected to become a $50.7 billion industry by 2025.

"While consumers and early adopter businesses had widely embraced collaborative applications prior to the pandemic, the market saw five years' worth of new users in the first six months of 2020," said Wayne Kurtzman, research director of social and collaboration at IDC. "This has cemented collaboration, at least to some extent, for every business, large and small."

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Kate Silver

Kate Silver is an award-winning reporter and editor with 15-plus years of journalism experience. Based in Chicago, she specializes in feature and business reporting. Kate's reporting has appeared in the Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic's CityLab, Atlas Obscura, The Telegraph and many other outlets.

Protocol | China

WeChat promises to stop accessing users’ photo albums amid public outcry

A tech blogger claimed that popular Chinese apps snoop around users' photo libraries, provoking heightened public concerns over privacy.

A survey launched by Sina Tech shows 94% of the some 30,000 responding users said they are not comfortable with apps reading their photo libraries just to allow them to share images faster in chats.

Photo: S3studio via Getty Images

A Chinese tech blogger dropped a bombshell last Friday, claiming on Chinese media that he found that several popular Chinese apps, including the Tencent-owned chat apps WeChat and QQ, as well as the Alibaba-owned ecommerce app Taobao, frequently access iPhone users' photo albums in the background even when those apps are not in use.

The original Weibo post from the tech blogger, using the handle of @Hackl0us, provoked intense debates about user privacy on the Chinese internet and consequently prompted WeChat to announce that it would stop fetching users' photo album data in the background.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. She can be reached at shenlu@protocol.com.

Protocol | Enterprise

As businesses struggle with data, enterprise tech is cleaning up

Enterprise tech's vision of "big data" largely fell flat inside silos. But now, an army of providers think they've figured out the problems. And customers and investors are taking note.

Corporate data tends to settle in silos that makes it harder to understand the bigger picture. Enterprise tech vendors smell a lucrative opportunity.

Photo: Jim Witkowski/Unsplash

Data isn't the new oil; it's the new gold. And in any gold rush, the ones who make the most money in the long run are the tool makers and suppliers.

Enterprise tech vendors have long peddled a vision of corporate America centered around so-called "big data." But there was a big problem: Many of those projects failed to produce a return. An army of new providers think they've finally figured out the problem, and investors and customers are taking note.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Protocol | Policy

What Frances Haugen’s SEC complaint means for the rest of tech

Haugen argues Facebook misled investors by failing to disclose its platforms' harms. If the SEC bites, the rest of tech could be next.

The question is whether the SEC will find the contents of Haugen's complaint relevant to investors' interests.

Photo: Matt McClain-Pool/Getty Images

Whistleblowers like former Facebook staffer Frances Haugen have pretty limited options when it comes to actually seeking redress for the harms they've observed and documented. There's no federal privacy law in the U.S. to speak of, Section 230 protects platforms for online speech and companies like Facebook are under no obligation to share any information with lawmakers, or anyone else, about what's happening on their sites.

But there is one agency that not only governs all publicly-traded companies, including in tech, but also offers whistleblowers like Haugen the opportunity for a payout: the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

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