Plural Makes It Easier for Companies to Deploy Open-Source Software

The NYC startup empowers companies to host open-source software in their own cloud environment without paying for managed services.
Written by Jeff Rumage
March 8, 2023Updated: March 8, 2023
Plural was co-founded by CEO Sam Weaver (left) and CTO Michael Guarino (right). They are pictured against a colored background with the Built In Future 5 logo.
Plural was co-founded by CEO Sam Weaver (left) and CTO Michael Guarino (right). | Image: Plural / Built In

Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming tech companies, Built In launched The Future 5 across seven major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five early-stage tech companies, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of NYC’s rising startups from last quarter here.

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After years of economic growth, an uncertain economic climate has forced many tech companies to take a closer look at their balance sheets to identify cost savings.

NYC startup Plural claims it can help tech companies save hundreds of thousands of dollars by canceling managed services agreements with cloud providers and hosting open-source applications on their own cloud environments.

Plural co-founder and CTO Michael Guarino said tech companies spend more than $1 million per year on data infrastructure software when they could be using open-source counterparts like Apache Airflow, Apache Superset and Airbyte for a fraction of the price.

“Especially in data infrastructure, there’s so much of this stuff that you can’t purchase for less than $100,000 a year,” Guarino said. “If you know how to deploy it, you can deploy it for like $1,000 per year. When you multiply that three or four times, it’s really worth the investment.”

The deployment of open-source software was once complicated, which is why many companies chose to pay a cloud provider for managed services and continue to do so. Guarino said the deployment of open-source software has been drastically simplified in recent years with the rise of Kubernetes, Terraform and other deployment tools.

Plural makes it easier for companies to configure and manage open-source software on Kubernetes without having to hire a site reliability engineer or a DevOps team. With Plural, companies can host open-source applications in their own cloud production environment, which gives them more control, fewer cybersecurity vulnerabilities and the ability to adjust configurations whenever they want.

If you can enable self-hosting, it’s a much more natural way to redirect the money to that open-source vendor ...”

Plural has a free open-source version, but users can also pay for professional and enterprise plans that allow them to receive service-level agreements and commercial licenses with the open-source vendor. In doing so, Plural is reconfiguring the way that open-source projects are monetized.

“If you can enable self-hosting, it’s a much more natural way to redirect the money to that open-source vendor because they can create whatever features that are needed for the product to monetize,” Guarino said.

Plural has more than 60 open-source applications in its marketplace. Users who are unfamiliar with the latest open-source applications may want to try Plural’s stacks, which are bundles of apps curated for specific use cases like data, DevOps and security.

Much like the products in its marketplace, Plural has made a point of being an open-source platform, Guarino said.

“We think the only way to solve this problem is to create a community of developers around it, to basically divide and conquer the work that’s involved,” Guarino said. “Every single application has its own complexities in terms of packaging and to make it run reliably on Kubernetes. If we own that entirely ourselves, we’re going to either have to hire way too many people to be a viable entity or we’re gonna get overwhelmed. So we built it with openness from the start.”

Plural raised a $6 million seed round last year. Most of Plural’s 13 team members live in NYC, including Guarino. The startup is used by about 60 companies, including Digitas, a digital marketing subsidiary of Publicis Group that uses Plural to create dedicated data stacks for each of its clients.

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