One thing is clear in the cloud native world. Developers use a lot of services to create applications, and while service meshes define how these services work together, just getting a grip on the services a team uses is usually tracked manually in spreadsheets. That's where Cortex, a new startup, comes in. It can help engineers create a catalog of services automatically.
Today the company announced a $2.25 million seed investment from Sequoia with help from Y Combinator and several individual technology industry executives. It also announced a couple of key new features.
Company co-founder and CEO Anish Dhar says that he experienced the pain of tracking services as a developer at Uber in a former job. His team spent a lot of time and effort trying to keep track of the 200-300 services they were using in Excel, trying to understand who owned the service, while making sure they were built with security and operational best practices. It was a part of the job nobody relished and he decided to build a tool to automate much of this.
"So the combination of the data not being up to date and SRE teams having to bug engineers to keep all this information up to date, it just creates a lot of problems around incident response and engineering velocity. And so I started Cortex late last year to solve some of those problems," he said. The tool tracks the services by integrating with development tools like Jira and DataDog, pulling this information into a catalog for the team.
Dhar and his two co-founders, Ganesh Datta and Nikhil Unni launched the company in October 2019, and spent the next several months building the product, They launched in March 2020 and spent that winter participating in Y Combinator, a good way to ride out the early part of the pandemic.
In addition to the funding, which actually closed last year, the company has continued to build out the product and today it's announcing Scorecards, a way for engineering managers to enforce services best practices. It's also releasing Cortex Query Language (CQL), which lets companies define the rules for building services as mathematical expressions. These rules and how well the owner of the service adheres to them, are the basis of the scores on the scorecards.
Bogomil Balkansky, a partner at Sequoia, who will be joining the Cortex board under the terms of this deal, says that his firm has been bullish on the micro services trend as it has developed over the last five years or so. He liked the fact that the Cortex team was solving a pain point for developers that nobody seems to have looked at before.
"The moment I met the Cortex team it was just so intuitive to me that that a product like this will be needed," he said.
The team is small right now with just two full time engineers along with the founding team, but it plans to add 10-15 employees before the end of 2021. As he builds his company, Dhar says diversity and inclusion is a big priority for him and his co-founders and he is aiming to build a diverse company.
"It's so important having a team that comes from different backgrounds. It just leads to building a better product. It's definitely something we constantly think about, and it's a part of our hiring process," he said.
With just five employees, and a company that came of age during the pandemic, it doesn't have an office right now, and the plan is to remain remote, while possibly opening up a small office in San Francisco later this year.