Blimp featured on Kellblog

Published on Dec 12, 2019

Blimp advisor Dave Kellogg featured us in his blogpost “Why I’m Advising Blimp on Kellblog. Dave Kellogg is an expert on technology and startups, the former CEO of Host Analytics, SVP/GM of Salesforce Service Cloud, and before that the CEO of MarkLogic. His deep insight in business, management, and the technology industry have proven invaluable to us at Blimp, and we’re so grateful to have him on our team.

With his permission, we’ve reprinted the full article below.


How Cloud Native kills developer productivity


Making the switch to microservices but think it’s too good to be true? Or you already made the switch but you’re starting to notice that local development is harder than it used to be. You’re not alone.

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Why I’m Advising Blimp – Dave Kellogg

A few months ago I signed up to be an advisor to Blimp, and I thought I’d do a quick post to talk about the company and why I decided to sign up.

What is Blimp?

Blimp provides developer sandboxes in a customer’s cloud within their Kubernetes cluster. Why does this matter?

  • The world is moving to cloud computing at a rapid place.
  • Cloud computing is moving away from virtual machines as the unit of abstraction and towards containers, microservices, and serverless architectures.
  • The exact technologies that make microservices powerful in production environments have made the development experience worse.

In short, nobody was thinking much about developers when they started migrating to these new architectures.

Think for a minute about being a developer building a microservices-based application. Then think about testing it. Your code has dependencies on scores or hundreds of microservices which in turn have dependencies on other microservices. Any or all of these microservices are themselves changing over time. How you are you supposed to find a stable test-bed on which to test your code?

Unlike production environments, run by DevOps teams with a sophisticated CI/CD platform, development environments are often primitive by comparison. Tools for collecting dependencies are not robust. Developers often have to test on their own laptops, running all the required microservices locally, which elongates test cycles because of slow performance. Moreover, debugging is potentially complicated by non-deterministic interactions among microservices.

Blimp solves all that by effectively spinning up a private, stable, server-based Kubernetes cluster where developers can test their code. If that sounds pretty practical, well it is. If that sounds pedestrian, remember that one of VMware’s top early use-case was … stable test environments for QA teams across different version of operating systems, middleware, and databases. Pragmatic solutions often generalize way beyond their initial landing point.

For more technical information on Blimp, here’s a link where you can download their white paper. And here’s an excerpt that sums things up quite nicely:

In production, that complexity is dealt with by a dizzying array of tools (containers, orchestrators, service meshes, and monitoring services). However, in local development, the developers are on their own, left to set up complex development environments with tools that are slow and difficult to understand. These challenges lead to wasted time and inefficienty that, as an industry, we’ve just accepted as normal.

Why Did I Sign Up to Advise Blimp?

There are always many reasons behind such a decision, so in no particular order:

  • The awesome founder, Ethan Jackson, who put his Berkeley computer science PhD on the back burner in order create the company. I like that this isn’t his first corporate rodeo (he worked at Nicira –> VMware) for 5 years. I also like the burn-the-ships level of commitment.
  • The practical logic behind the product idea. Remember the famous William Gibson quote: “the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” When you’re working at the cutting edge, the next step looks kind of obvious. So while this looks very high-tech to me, it looks pretty obvious to Ethan and, in my humble opinion, a lot of people have been very successful doing the next pretty-obvious thing (e.g., from PeopleSoft building apps atop Oracle to NetSuite taking financials to the cloud to Palo Alto Networks doing application-based firewalls).
  • The trends driving the company. Blimp is dead center of the movement to containers and microservices-based architectures in the cloud. The technology elite can use all these technologies today. Blimp makes them more accessible to the typical corporate development shop.


Check out Blimp, our team’s project to scale heavy containers to the cloud.

Watch our Escape ‘19 talk on How Microservices Enable Multi-Cloud at the Expense of Developers.

Read about common Docker Compose mistakes that are slowing down your development.