More and more organizations are using microservices, the loosely coupled, independently deployable services that together form an app. According to a 2020 O’Reilly survey, 77% of organizations had used microservices at the time, with 29% reporting that they migrated or deployed most of their systems using microservices.
However, the widespread adoption of microservices has created new problems in app development. According to the same O’Reilly survey, corporate culture and integration with holdover systems have become major challenges in microservices.
Startups have rushed in to fill the void of solutions. There’s Helios, a microservices management platform that helps developers understand how their code interacts with the rest of their apps. Vendors like OpsLevel and Temporal compete with Helios for businesses, offering platforms that organize microservices into a centralized portal. A newer entrant to the space is Nucleus, which aims to let developers run microservices architectures using a range of infrastructure, security, and observability tools. Backed by Y Combinator, Nucleus has raised $2.1 million in VC funds to date.
Nucleus was co-founded by Evis Drenova and Nick Zelei in 2021, after the two spent about seven years building infrastructure platforms at both large enterprises (e.g. IBM, Garmin) and startups (Skyflow, Newfront). The inspiration for Nucleus came after Drenova and Zelei realized that they often had to rebuild the same platform to help developers create, test and deploy their microservices.
“We noticed that more companies were trying to relocate [microservices] and break apart their monoliths, but really struggled to get this right,” Drenova said via email. “Some companies that have tried to move to microservices have burned their fingers because they didn’t have the right tooling, and more importantly, the right people… We want to make it easy and reliable for companies to move to non-microservices. only microservices but service-oriented architectures without having to be security, infrastructure and observability experts.”
With Nucleus, developers define microservices and deploy them on the Nucleus platform, which automatically configures aspects of their security, observability, and more. Nucleus is delivered via a command-line interface designed to fit into existing developer workflows and comes with pre-built integrations, including tools such as Hashicorp, Cloudflare, and Okta.
“Nucleus is an infrastructure platform that gives you complete freedom over your code,” says Drenova. “As a developer you can write your code in any language you want and we support it out of the box. We don’t interfere with your business logic – one way to think about it is that we’ve built a cage that you can put your code in and that cage is integrated with your infrastructure and your third-party tools and is extremely secure.
Drenova recognizes its many rivals in microservices orchestration. But he sees the DIY crowd as Nucleus’ main competitor.
“Before we wrote any code, we interviewed 55 chief technology officers and 90% said they have built something like this in the past and it took an average of 8-12 months, cost over $1 million and required three full-time senior engineers goods. Drenova said. “We believe we can deliver a better product in 10% of the time a DIYer would take and at 10% of the cost. That’s pretty compelling.”
Those are lofty promises. But to Drenova’s credit, Nucleus — whose platform is still in beta — already has “a few” early customers and eight design partners. Investors were also convinced, with financiers such as Soma Capital, Y Combinator, LombardStreet Ventures and “dozens” of angels throwing capital at Nucleus.
“Nucleus is an essential piece of software. We run and manage all your services,” added Drenova. “It’s bigger than any developer, which means Chief Technology Officers are always our buyers… Our target market is companies with 20+ developers moving to a service-oriented architecture. But any company that uses services can come to us.”
Nucleus currently focuses on organic growth and maintains a small team of four employees including the co-founders. Drenova is considering hiring 1-2 engineers next year, but he tends to be conservative and awaits stronger signs of product-market adjustment.
“During a recession, the playing field is more level for start-ups, and while larger competitors focus on reducing cash burn and staying alive, we’re stepping on the accelerator and seizing the opportunity,” said Drenova. “We have enough money in the bank and jobs for years to come.”