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We built tooling in the container age to make it easier for developers to understand their microservices. Now, we're building tooling for eBPF to make it easier for developers to understand their runtimes.

Performance. Flexibility. Safety.

To produce the high-quality software we intended to, we needed to understand the behavior of the software we were building on top of. This was our introduction to eBPF.

eBPF was the only comprehensive tool we saw that allowed us to both dynamically observe and change the behavior of our runtime so we decided to do more research. But as we jumped into the deep end, we were faced with the overwhelming task of discovering the ecosystem itself. Are these tools stable? Is this documentation still relevant? Is that feature available on my kernel? Is my eBPF program production-ready? How do I test that? And now, how do I deploy it?

This type of confusion is not specific to eBPF. They are relevant to any budding software ecosystem making sense of the solution in front of them. Even if eBPF began as a networking tool, this is no longer its only use case. We recognized this wall of confusion and complexity we were hitting from our past so we began solving it the way we have solved this problem before: understand the why first, then build.

To be clear, we don't believe eBPF's complexity is unnecessary. Part of the success behind eBPF is its ability to do different different things. We intend to ease the friction a software organization will face in the development and maintenance of their eBPF infrastructure, all from a single comprehensive viewpoint.

The growth of eBPF

eBPF is encouraging us to rethink how our core software is being built and to take advantage of the kernel first. We've seen popular projects based on this new thinking such as Cilium, Tracee, and Falco grow over the previous years. More companies in the observability, networking, and security space have started adopting eBPF into their products.

Other platforms outside of Linux have also been taking notice. Efforts have begun in implementing eBPF on Windows and FreeBSD. With more interests and collaborators becoming involved, it has led to the creation of the eBPF Foundation to neutrally steer the technology.

For developers to discuss deep dives, learn best practices and encourage each other, the CNCF has even created Cloud Native eBPF Day and the eBPF Foundation itself hosts eBPF Summit.

We believe this growth is just the start. eBPF continues to harden its position as the multifaceted tool for interfacing with the kernel. There are more possiblities and we're building the tooling to make it happen.

Written by

Milan, beekeeper @ bpfdeploy.io. Previously, an open source engineer at VMware & Heptio.