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.

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