There’s a new startup dedicated to making a business out of Apache Flink, the distrubuted stream processing framework and dataflow architecture that emerged from Germany over 10 years ago. With offices in Berlin and New York City, the company Immerok is already offering a serverless Flink service on the cloud as part of an early access program.
Apache Flink has been a promising real-time processing framework ever since it became a top-level project at the Apache Software Foundation in 2015. When the co-creators of Flink, Stephan Ewen and Kostas Tzoumas, founded the company data Artisans back in 2016, it seemed as if Flink would have a shot at commercial success, much as Databricks would eventually do with Apache Spark.
In January 2019, the Chinese Web giant Alibaba, a big user of Flink, acquired data Artisans for a reported €90 million (about $79 million at then-current exchange rates). While Alibaba offer a hosted Flink service on its public cloud and leverages the team to support its own in-house version of Flink dubbed Blink, the idea of an independent commercial Flink provider seemed over. (data Artisans has changed its name to Ververica in January 2022, but it’s still owned by Alibaba).
While the open source Apache Flink project continued to evolve, other Flink backers wanted to make another go at independent commercial entity backing the real-time data processing framework. That finally came to pass in May, when Immerok was founded by a team of Flink committees and PMC members.
Immerok yesterday announced a $17 million seed funding round backed by CUSP Capital, 468 Capital, Cortical VC, and Essence VC, not to mention angel investors, including Ewan. The company’s goal is to enable customers to run Flink in a cloud native manner with no operations overhead.
“Our design goals are to make it possible for anyone to leverage the full power of Flink APIs to meet a range of real-time business needs from fast data pipelines and user-facing analytics, to real-time ML/AI and transaction processing,” writes Immerok co-founder Konstantin Knauf, who is also a Flink PMC member and one of the original Flink co-creators,.
While its serverless Flink service on AWS is still in early access mode, the company, which is looking to expand from 20 employees to 30 by the end of the year, has already worked with several customers. One of those is ING, the Dutch bank with assets exceeding $1 trillion, which has standardized on Flink for streaming applications.
“The next step in this evolution is to adopt a SQL-first approach and a tighter integration with the data lake where machine learning models are being trained,” Erik de Nooij, the engineering lead at ING, says in a press release. “This next step will put ING on a trajectory where analytic capabilities are put in the hands of a wider target audience resulting in more data-driven decisions.”
Ewan, who has left Ververica, is working with Immerok as an advisor, and sees a lot of potential in the platform.
“The future of Apache Flink is in good hands with Immerok,” Ewen says in a press release. “I spent many years working with the Immerok co-founders. They have deep knowledge of stream processing and cloud-native computing, they build really solid technology, and love working with the community of Flink users.”
As stream processing starts to finally go mainstream, the timing for Immerok’s emergence couldn’t be much better. The company has the potential to position Flink–which Hadoop co-creator Doug Cutting once said had a superior dataflow architecture to other popular approaches, such as Spark Streaming–as an instrumental part of the next phase of real-time streaming’s evolution.
“Businesses today differentiate themselves by data, so the most strategic IT initiatives right now center around data-intensive applications to support AI/ML models as well as realtime and predictive analytics,” Immerok co-founder and CEO Holger Temme says in a press release. “Stream processing, and with it Apache Flink, are fundamental to those systems, and until now, organizations have required specialists to build, operate, and scale those streaming applications—specialists that are expensive, and scarce. Immerok will make it easy for organizations to build modern real-time systems by closing the existing gap between stream processing and cloud native applications.”
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