Harness is an end-to-end platform for complete software delivery. It helps organizations modernize how they think about software delivery and get the code from their developers into production with velocity and confidence. “We use machine learning and other tools to help really identify problems before you get into production, so folks don’t have to spend their nights and weekends doing rollbacks. We can actually get it out there safely for them,” said Scott Sanchez, Chief Marketing Officer at Harness. Harness recently announced a community edition of its continuous delivery (CD) platform under a source-available license.
I sat down with Sanchez to not only deep dive into the changing CI/CD landscape but also understand the motive behind the release of the community edition.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host Swapnil Bhartiya, and welcome to Let’s Talk. Today, we have with us Scott Sanchez, Chief Marketing Officer at Harness. Scott, it’s great to have you on the show.
Scott Sanchez: Thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Since I think this is the first time you and I are talking, I would love a bit about Harness from you. We do cover Harness here regularly, but tell us, what is harness all about? What do you folks do?
Scott Sanchez: Yeah, thanks. Harness is an end-to-end software delivery platform that really helps organizations modernize how they think about software delivery, to get the code from their developers into production with velocity, with confidence. We use machine learning, we use other tools to help really identify problems before you get to production, so folks don’t have to spend their nights and weekends doing rollbacks. We can actually get it out there safely for them.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. Thanks for explaining that. The theme for today’s discussion is the free, community edition of Harness CD. But before we go there, I want to also understand from you, how have you seen the evolution of continuous delivery? Because we talk about CI/CD, and depending on who you talk to one will say, “Hey, CD is incomplete without CI.” So first of all, talk about how things have changed over time, and how do you look at it holistically?
Scott Sanchez: Those of us with enough gray hair to have seen this come through, I think there’s definitely been that evolution that you talk about. And for many organizations, they come to us with what they call CI/CD, but it’s really sort of CI++. It’s CI with a whole bunch of scripting or automation. Some of it is sort of first-gen, legacy that they’ve been pulling along. They’ve added better build and tests, but the deploy still feels like an afterthought. It feels like a bolt-on. And so we encourage organizations to flip that mentality and really figure out how you’re going to do that deploy, the full continuous delivery, and to make that your anchor point, because when you get CD right, true world-class CD… And we have a great maturity model that we help will all customers through on what that looks like.
When CD becomes the anchor instead of CI, it helps you pull in a lot of the other things that have been bolt-ons, like how you’re doing observability, and how you’re thinking about security, and how you’re thinking about resiliency. All of that starts to become easier to solve for at scale when CD becomes the anchor. And so breaking apart that CI is not CD, they are two different things. As an industry, we talk about them together a lot, but folks that are truly world-class at this do you think about them separately.
Swapnil Bhartiya: If you look at Harness CD, can you talk about the scope of Harness CD? When you look at cloud-native, it’s already very complicated, so talk about how you make it easy for them, so that when it comes to observability, when it comes to security… Most of these things go hand-in-hand.
Scott Sanchez: I think you make some good points, that the cloud-native environments, and especially as companies start to get to multi-cloud and start to get to… We’ve been talking about hybrid-cloud for 10 years, but now we’re actually seeing more and more of that in reality. And you’ve got everything from homegrown virtualization up through enterprise VMware deployments that may run Java. You’ve got serverless, you’ve got containers in the cloud, and Kubernetes spanning multiple cloud providers. How do you deploy to that? How do you deliver to that? How do you ensure that you’ve got, as an operations team or as an SRE-type role, that you really deeply understand what you’re deploying and where? And again, back to that word confidence, it’s one thing to be able to do it quickly. It’s another thing to be able to do it with confidence in the middle of a production work day. And I think that’s really where Harness sets itself apart in a major way from the DIY solutions, and many of the commercial solutions that are out there today, that do come at it from the CI perspective.
Support for all those different types of environment that I mentioned, all the different legacy and cloud-native environments, being able to pull that together in either a visual representation, in sort of a pipeline builder in Harness CD, or if you prefer sort of the infrastructure is code, more programmatic view of it, we support that as well. And really meeting customers where they are, not just in terms of how they want to manage the environments and the delivery, but what generation and combination of ingredients they’re trying to put together. And that is, fundamentally, when people come to us with CD problems, those are the problems. And when they compare it to how they’re doing it today, it very much can be a night and day difference.
Swapnil Bhartiya: How different will it be from harness CD, the free community edition? Who can use it? Of course, we’ll talk about the licensing part as well, but I just want to understand what all people can do with it. What is the ultimate goal behind releasing it?
Scott Sanchez: It’s a fully featured version of Harness. Today, the majority of our customers use our SAS solution. We’re not strangers to downloadable software or sort of on-premise versions of things, and as you might expect, some of our larger customers, or big agencies, tend to like to run things on-prem, or in their own more private environments. And so we’ve supported that type of model for years. And like I said, there’s those two drivers. There’s we don’t feel that people should have to compromise on their CD, or go through some CI patchwork to approximate CD, because they didn’t have a free available option. And so we wanted to solve that problem for people.
On the other side, it really is with our larger customers, like I mentioned, making it as easy as possible for them to collaborate with us on how we’re innovating, on how we’re developing, accelerating features, integrating with some of these other open source projects that they rely on. And when you’ve got open repos and GitHub, and when you’ve got your engineers out there in the community working on that together, you can get to the desired outcome faster.
Swapnil Bhartiya: And now, let’s talk about the choice of license… Not the choice of license, the community edition is available under a source-available license, versus your Harness companies are open source. Why did you choose this approach?
Scott Sanchez: When you think back to the goals that we set forth to solve for, one is reducing cost or availability of world class CD. We’ve accomplished that. It’s open in GitHub, you can go download it, you can use it for free. On the other side, our largest customers, we don’t have to get into some big complicated code access and NDAs and other things, that we’re able to collaborate in the open and anyone can evaluate, does the Harness product, at the code level, meet their requirements, security requirements, other requirements. Those were important things for us to go solve for.
On the flip side, we wanted to ensure that some of the things that tend to happen to great open source projects didn’t affect our customer’s ability to continue to get value from Harness. And so we selected the PolyForm license, which gives our users, our customers, the things that they’re looking for. It’s free to use, free to download, it’s open repositories, easy to collaborate on. It checks all those boxes, and it gives us the ability to have confidence to continue to invest in this from a commercial perspective.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Are you also envisioning to build a community around this free edition, or it will remain a project where Harness makes the source code available? I just want to understand the collaboration part.
Scott Sanchez: Yeah. We have a robust community around our CI solution. We’ve integrated the Drone CI project into the Harness CI solution. And there’s a great, healthy, robust community around Harness CI and around Drone. We certainly are making the investment in community, building a team there to make sure that people that want to come together around not just Harness CD now, as we’ve opened that up to the world, but around CI and around Harness Feature Flags, and Cost Management, all the other things that we’re trying to help solve for our customers. We think the community is essential to gain the awareness, and the education, and the credibility to help people be successful with all the things that we’re trying to help them with.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Is there also any kind of synergy between the free community edition and the commercial one, that if somebody is using the free and they want to use… How does that work? Is it a totally different product, they have to just move from that? Or, you can just simply migrate and operate?
Scott Sanchez: There are certainly some different experiences when you’re running it locally versus when you’re running it in the SAS environment, but we’ve tried to make it as seamless as possible to go both directions. That if someone is using the SAS version and decides, “Hey, for this project,” or, “In this environment,” or, “Just because my needs have changed, I want to switch to the community edition.” You are going to find overwhelming parody of experience. We wanted to make that seamless for folks wherever we could.
Swapnil Bhartiya: What’s in the pipeline for Harness in 2022?
Scott Sanchez: We’re in a real period of rapid growth. We just crossed 500 employees, we’re adding rapidly to our list of enterprise customers, and agencies, and folks all over the world that are taking advantage of the Harness platform. Both for CD, like we’ve been discussing, as well as for CI and for our other modules that we continue to add to the platform. Our focus really is going to be on helping make our customers successful, and giving them what they need. As the definition of DevOps, and as the definition of what modern software delivery looks like, continues to evolve we want to be at the forefront of that. And so you’re going to see us continue to lead, not just in our approach to the things that exist, but continue to innovate into the future.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Scott, thank you so much for, of course, taking time out today and talking about Harness. We also touched upon the larger problem with CI and CD, and also how Harness is helping those customers in their journey, and, of course, the release of this community edition. And, as well, I would love to have you back on the show, but thanks for your time today. Thank you.
Scott Sanchez: Thank you. Appreciate the time. Can’t wait to come back.