UPDATED 09:00 EDT / AUGUST 05 2020

harness CLOUD

Harness buys Drone.io to expand into software integration

Harness Inc. said today it has acquired the self-service continuous integration firm Drone.io Inc. for an undisclosed price.

Harness sells a “continuous delivery-as-a-service” platform that uses machine learning algorithms to monitor new software updates for any problems.

Continuous software delivery is an emerging model that’s popular with companies that want to roll out regular updates to their software applications. In many cases, companies need to push out updates around the clock, sometimes several times per day.

That’s in contrast to the old way of doing things, where updates would be introduced months apart. But rolling out so many continuous updates is difficult for many companies because they lack the necessary staff and skills to do so without errors cropping up that could break their apps.

That’s where Harness’ continuous delivery-as-a-service platform comes in. The platform uses algorithms to monitor new application updates, instead of human developers. Harness’ machine learning technology allows companies to understand what’s happening with an application’s baseline environment and can initiate automatic rollbacks to a previous version if irregular activity is detected.

It gives companies the confidence to push ahead with new updates, safe in the knowledge that they won’t suffer any downtime or failures.

While Harness is all about software delivery, Drone.io is focused on integration. It has built open-source software that enables companies to push out their software updates quickly. With Drone, developers no longer have to script their software delivery pipelines manually. Instead, Drone makes it possible to declare continuous integration pipelines and manage them as code in Git, which means they have standard syntax, require less work and are generally easier to create, use, maintain and troubleshoot.

Drone has proven to be popular with the enterprise DevOps community, with more than 100 million downloads and 50,000 active monthly users, and is the most “liked” CI/CD project on GitHub with 21,319 likes, well ahead of alternatives such as Jenkins and Spinnaker.

By teaming up with Drone, Harness says, it can offer developers what is the world’s first self-service CI/CD platform for cloud and container-native applications. Developers can now build, test and deploy their software on-demand without any delays or downtime.

Harness co-founder and Chief Executive Jyoti Bansal told SiliconANGLE that the company aims to deliver the best next-generation software delivery platform on the market, and that it’s taking a major step toward that goal by adding Drone’s continuous integration capabilities to its own.

“If you look at Harness Continuous Delivery, its DNA is similar to Drone — both platforms are self-service, simple and can scale to meet the needs of any business,” Bansal said. “Together, we can take CI/CD to the next level for our open-source and enterprise communities.”

What really attracted Harness, though, is that Drone was the first true cloud-native and container-native continuous integration product on the market, and that makes it ideal for the way enterprise software development is headed, Bansal said.

Indeed, Drone can reduce the time and cost of CI by five to 10 times, letting engineers focus on writing code instead of manually scripting their CI builds, tests and pipelines, he said. “And it doesn’t hurt that Drone is really popular,” he said. “It’s got tons of enterprise customers and it’s absolutely beloved by the open-source community. The large community and simplicity of the product just made sense.”

Another thing that Harness liked is that its continuous delivery tools were already integrated with Drone. Bansal said that many of Harness’s customers also use Drone for CI. “The acquisition allows us to not only tighten that integration and better support enterprise users, but also to give Drone’s open-source community the resources and support of an enterprise product,” he said.

Constellation Research Inc. analyst Holger Mueller told SiliconANGLE that by adding Drone’s capabilities to its own, Harness would be able to increase developer velocity. He said that’s critical for enterprises because of a shortage of developer talent.

“This is what Harness hopes to achieve by bringing CI/CD and better container integration together,” Mueller said. “It’s empowering developers to use less tools and taking a key step toward automated software operations, which is a vision that Constellation sees coming to the industry.”

Harness said it plans to rebrand the open-source Drone project as the Harness CI Community Edition, and that it will continue to invest and support this platform for the wider open-source community. Meanwhile, Drone Enterprise will be sold as Harness CI Essentials Edition when it launches later this year.

“This acquisition is a first step in bringing open source to more areas of our platform,” Bansal said. “We will add enterprise features and support to the paid version, while maintaining the open-source version, but ultimately we do see this as just the beginning of our work with the open-source community.”

Image: Harness

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