Startup Profile: groundcover Levers eBPF for Monitoring

Observability

By: Mary Jander


As cloud-native distributed systems proliferate, observability in the form of application performance monitoring (APM) has become an essential tool for performance and reliability. But a startup named groundcover (which prefers to be known as groundcover without the initial cap) says that adding monitoring to cloud environments can be tough to scale and generate lots of data, with sometimes vague results. And costs grow with the volume of data observed.

“Some companies are spending over a million dollars a year on solutions,” said Shahar Azulay, cofounder and CEO of groundcover, in a recent interview with Futuriom at KubeCon Paris. “We compete by not forcing customers into unexpected fees.”

groundcover’s InCloud service leverages extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF), an open-source software tool that streamlines the speed, efficiency, and visibility of programs that use Kubernetes-based microservices. eBPF does this by running directly inside the Linux kernel instead of on top of it. This gives eBPF the ability to track and even control traffic without burdening the application layer – an essential feature in highly scalable environments. groundcover claims its eBPF implementation via a sensor named Flora outperforms competing observability platforms, including those from Datadog and New Relic as well as ones based on OpenTelemetry.

To keep costs down, groundcover also uses what it calls stream data processing along with open-source database technology, such as ClickHouse and VictoriaMetrics, to selectively store key observability data, reducing the level of extraneous data "noise." This enables all observability data to stay within the customer’s environment – even though groundcover’s solution is delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS). The result is reduction of “ratcheting fees” associated with some other services that charge according to data volume processed on the provider’s cloud.

groundcover selects only key observability data to store, reducing fees associated with data volume. Source: groundcover

A Competitive Comparison

groundcover claims its design improves the total cost of ownership (TCO) of APM compared to market leader Datadog as well as to solutions developed in-house via open-source software. The startup says this is owing to its ability to keep data entirely in the customer’s environment, to simplify implementation, and to keep support and maintenance costs low. Specifically, groundcover claims to have an 86% lower TCO than Datadog and a 68% lower TCO than in-house, self-hosted solutions.

Of course, these figures must be considered subjective. But groundcover is putting its claims to the market test. It has garnered at least 60 customers in its short life, including Geosite, Proofpoint, Big Viking Games, HiredScore, Lang.ai, and SkyHop Global. So far, groundcover's client list is double the size of its employee roster of 35.

Still, the observability field is getting more crowded, as established players like Datadog continue to improve their wares and startups proliferate. While groundcover has claimed a space for itself in the market, it will be challenged to maintain its growth. So far, though, it seems to be holding its own, and judging by the growing interest in Kubernetes and cloud native technologies, the opportunity is expanding.

Startup Profile: groundcover

Headquarters location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Founded: 2021

Employees: 35

Customers: 60

Founders: Shahar Azulay (ex-Apple, DayTwo), now CEO; and Yechezkel Rabinovich (ex-CyberMDX), now CTO. The two served together in a cyber unit in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

Target market: Enterprise developers needing application performance management in the cloud while reducing costs.

Prominent investors: Zeev Ventures, Heavybit Industries, Angular Ventures, Jibe Ventures

Funding raised to date: $24.5 million; $4.5 million in seed funding and $20 million in a Series A round led by Zeev Ventures