Meet Groundcover – The Startup Building the Next-Generation Observability Stack

Meet Groundcover – The Startup Building the Next-Generation Observability Stack

Meet Groundcover – The Startup Building the Next-Generation Observability Stack

Groundcover, an Israeli startup, wants to challenge incumbent APM and monitoring companies with its all-in-one lightweight observability stack.

As the adoption of microservices and Kubernetes increases, the need for a unified observability stack becomes critical. Although cloud-native observability is a crowded market, new players still have room to deliver innovative offerings to customers.

Unlike traditional observability platforms, Groundcover leverages an inherent feature of the Linux kernel called Extended Berkley Filters (eBPFs).

Although eBPF has been around since 2014, the rise of containers and Kubernetes has made it mainstream. The eBPF capability of modern Linux distributions allows developers to write extensible plugins that run in the kernel sandbox without compromising security and performance. The plug-ins are extremely lightweight yet powerful enough due to their close proximity to the core components of the operating system. They can intercept traffic flowing inside and outside the operating system. eBPF plugins can also add a layer of security by tracking operating system processes that behave abnormally. eBPF is gaining popularity for its networking, security, and observability capabilities.

Groundcover says its Kubernetes observability platform is the most efficient compared to traditional offerings that rely on multiple agents to capture infrastructure metrics, Kubernetes events, system and application logs, and tracing information. Since Groundcover based its technology on eBPF, it removes several agents to list metrics, events, logs and traces.

I evaluated Groundcover by deploying its observability platform in a Kubernetes cluster running in Google Cloud. Installation was simple and straightforward. It relies on open source databases running in the same Kubernetes cluster to collect and aggregate data. This approach ensures that customer data doesn’t leave the environment while sending just enough metadata to Groundcovers’ SaaS dashboard.

As soon as Kubernetes is connected to Groundcover’s control plane, it starts displaying data. The intuitive dashboard acts as a one-stop-shop for metrics, events, logs, and traces.

Although Groundcover is not an open source platform, it has invested in building an OSS project, Caretta, an eBPF-based standalone network mapping tool. Tightly integrated with the popular Grafana dashboard tool, it provides a visual dependency map of all services running in the Kubernetes cluster. Caretta exposes Prometheus-compatible metrics that can be easily viewed by any compatible dashboard tool. Groundcover has included a Grafana dashboard accessible in the Kubernetes cluster. This tool is not related or connected to the commercial version of the offer.

As for pricing, Groundcover is free if you connect a single cluster but costs $20 per node per month when you go beyond that.

Founded in 2021 by Shahar Azulay and Yechezkel Rabinovich, Groundcover is one of the first eBPF-based observability platforms. In September 2022, the company raised $20 million in a Series A funding round led by Zeev Ventures with participation from Angular Ventures, Heavybit, and Jibe Ventures.

Groundcover competes with established players such as New Relic, Data Dog, Sentry, Sysdig, and managed observability tools offered by public cloud providers. But with its unified approach to observability, it is well positioned to exploit this opportunity.

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