Ubicloud’s Quest: Creating an Open-Source Rivalry to AWS

Co-founders Ozgun Erdogan and Umur Cubukcu previously built Citus Data, where they also met Daniel Farina, who previously was instrumental in building Heroku PostgreSQL. Citus Data wouldn’t have been possible without,” Cubukcu said. “Fifteen years ago, all those service [that are on the Ubicloud roadmap] did not have open-source data plane components. These days, for the core services, all of those now have good open-source alternatives, barring maybe one or two,” he said. The company currently has 10 employees, split between San Francisco, Amsterdam (where the Citus Data team built a small engineering team during the team’s Microsoft days) and Istanbul.

Ubicloud is here to disrupt the cloud computing world by changing the dynamics of affordability and convenience. Founded by the team behind Citus Data, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2019, this new startup offers a layer of core cloud computing services on top of affordable bare-metal servers from providers like Hetzner, OVH Cloud, Leaseweb and AWS.

This innovative approach includes a managed service and an open-source version that empowers developers to build their own cloud on bare-metal providers. Instead of relying on the large cloud computing providers, Ubicloud offers a viable alternative that opens up more opportunities for developers.

The co-founders of Ubicloud, Ozgun Erdogan and Umur Cubukcu, have extensive experience in the cloud computing industry. Previously, they built Citus Data, where they met Daniel Farina, a crucial member of the team known for his work on Heroku PostgreSQL at Microsoft. After its successful launch in the Y Combinator summer 2011 cohort, Citus Data continued to thrive and eventually caught the attention of Microsoft. Following their time at the tech giant, Cubukcu returned to Y Combinator as a visiting partner in 2023.

“We obviously built our careers and what we haveon the cloud itself, right? Citus Data wouldn’t have been possible without,” Cubukcu said. “We are absolutely big fans of the cloud. At the same time […], we’ve been in it for such a long time and we see where there’s actually ways to do it better, or do it simpler.”

Ubicloud’s focus is currently on a select few core components, including compute and a PostgreSQL database service. This reflects Citus Data’s heavy reliance on PostgreSQL, a popular open-source database management system. The team also prioritizes networking capabilities to create public and private virtual networks, as well as built-in attribute-based access controls.

In the future, Ubicloud plans to expand its services and add a block storage feature and a Kubernetes-based container service. This will provide developers with even more options and possibilities.

One of the main selling points of Ubicloud is its affordability. Cubukcu acknowledges that it may not replace the full breadth of AWS offerings, but believes that “the majority of the value is in maybe 10 percent of those offerings.” By offering a manageable service at a lower cost, Ubicloud aims to simplify the developer experience and bridge the gap between hardware costs and the prices charged by large cloud providers.

“The delta between the hardware costs and what the hyperscalers are charging has gotten progressively larger. It used to be that you’d see lots of price drops, but that’s not quite happening anymore,” he said. Later, he also noted that one area where there have been progress is egress fees, which helps a service like Ubicloud.

The flexibility of Ubicloud also allows developers to choose where they want to host their services. One popular use for Ubicloud is running GitHub Action runners. The company also sees significant demand for its PostgreSQL database service and long-running workloads.

Erdogan points out that a Kubernetes platform is on the way. This will enable the team to offer more features on top of its infrastructure-as-a-service layer.

If you’ve been around the cloud for long enough, then an open-source competitor to AWS may sound a bit familiar. Ever since the dawn of hyberscale clouds, we’ve seen projects that aimed to provide the core AWS services, mostly for on-premises use cases. The poster child here is OpenStack, which went through its own boom and bust cycle, but has found stable ground in recent years.

However, the Ubicloud team believes their approach is significantly different from OpenStack’s. “OpenStack is from a different era,” Cubukcu said. “It reminds me […] a bit of Hadoop, where there is a consortium where a lot of different companies are coming together. It is open, yes, but then it supports 10 different flavors of operating systems and hypervisors — and in order to make it work, you really need an army of people. It is a solution, but you don’t have, for example, a managed OpenStack-as-a-service, right? It’s too complicated for that, whereas with Ubicloud, our managed service is available from day one. You sign up, you can start using it in two minutes.

Similarly, Erdogan notes that the open-source landscape has evolved significantly in recent years. This allows Ubicloud to utilize existing open-source projects for its virtual networking and storage services. “Fifteen years ago, all those service [that are on the Ubicloud roadmap] did not have open-source data plane components. These days, for the core services, all of those now have good open-source alternatives, barring maybe one or two,” he said.

Today, Ubicloud announced a $16 million seed round, which closed in early January. Among the investors are Y Combinator and 500 Emerging Europe, as well as a number of angel investors.

The company, which currently has a team of 10 employees, is spread across San Francisco, Amsterdam (where the Citus Data team built a small engineering team during their time at Microsoft), and Istanbul. With this impressive support and innovative concept, Ubicloud is primed to make a significant impact on the cloud computing industry.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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