Traefik Labs is a startup focused on the area of cloud-native networking. When the company was founded five years ago, organizations were moving to Docker container deployments and the need for reverse proxy changed. Before Traefik was launched, organizations had to manually reconfigure their routing rules every time the appointment changes, requiring lots of manual effort.

In this episode of TFiR Let’s Talk, Manuel Zapf, Product Manager at Traefik Labs, sits down with Swapnil Bhartiya to introduce him to Traefik and discuss how they are simplifying the cloud and microservices adoption journey for enterprises. He goes into detail about Traefik’s latest product, Traefik Hub, and how it is helping to publish and secure containers at the edge.

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • Traefik Labs was founded five years ago by open sourcing reverse proxy traffic. The company aims to solve the problem with companies shifting to microservice-based architectures. Zapf gives an introduction to the company and the problems it is solving.
  • Adoption in all container-based deployments and patterns has grown since the launch of Traefik Labs. In the last year or two, more organizations have successfully managed to overcome their initial struggles turning old monolithic applications into more modern container-based deployments. Zapf discusses the progression he is seeing.
  • Traefik has launched the open beta of its newest product, Traefik Hub, a cloud-native networking platform that aims to help publish and secure containers at the edge instantly. Zapf explains the capabilities of Traefik Hub and how it is accelerating the go-to-market speed for applications.
  • The open beta launch is predominantly targeting developers. Zapf shares how they can benefit from Traefik Hub to take network-related tasks off their hands and allow for more time writing code.
  • The shift left movement was meant to break silos, but soft silos still remain today and more things are moving into the developers’ pipeline. Zapf shares how Traefik’s approach is to embrace the movement and enable teams to do their jobs quickly.
  • Open source has been at the heart of Traefik since its launch. Zapf discusses why open source is so important for the company and how it shapes Traefik’s products.

Connect with Manuel Zapf (LinkedIn, Twitter)

The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.


Here is the automated and unedited transcript of the recording. Please note that the transcript has not been edited or reviewed. 

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host, Swapnil Bhartiya, and welcome to another episode of TFiR Let’s Talk. And today we have with us Manuel Zapf, product manager at Traefik. Manuel, it’s great to have you on the show.

Manuel Zapf: Thanks for having me.

Swapnil Bhartiya: First of all, tell us a bit about the company. What do you folks do? What problem are you trying to solve?

Manuel Zapf: So, in general, Traefik Labs is a startup, which is focused in the cloud native networking area so to say. We have founded five years ago by open sourcing the famous reverse proxy traffic. The company Traefik Labs, is built up on the famous open source software.

The problem we tried to solve or we actually solved back then, was the shift to microservice based architectures. Which privately meant at the time being that companies and organizations were moving to docker container-based deployments. The need for reverse proxy changed because as you know, containers are living quite chartered, they get familiar IP addresses and things like that therefore, there was a high demand for something more automatic. Because before Traefik was launched, you had to manually reconfigure your routing rules every time the appointment changed, which required lots of manual efforts for someone to do.

So back in the days, Emile, our founder, released the project Traefik, which helped circumventing or actually solving that issue because Traefik was the first of its kind to auto connect to give our container orchestrator engines and actually reconfigure themselves based on what it sees in those environments. And that’s where we originally come from.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Now, as you’ve said, it’s a startup. So can you also tell when was the company created, and you did talk about the specific problem that you are trying to solve, and if you just look back when the company was created, how things are now?

Manuel Zapf: So, we founded the company five years ago, which was following the success of the Open Source release, which was close to seven years ago. Within this five years, things have changed quite rapidly. In general, there’s more often adoption in all of the container-based deployments and patterns and all of that. So the industry has really gotten down into containers in general, I’d say, which did lead to other vendors working on reverse proxies, adopting the pattern Traefik has introduced back then, which as I described, was connecting to the orchestrators, getting the information, automatically reconfiguring and all those regards. Because in the end, this is what actually helping and develop experience, speeding up tedious manual work by automating it away and just following what is up.

I guess, especially within the last year or two years, the majority of people using container-based technologies has actually been quite good. So they actually did overcome the initial struggles and initiatives to port their applications, their very old monolithic applications, for example, into more modern container-based deployments, and they made their steps. So they were able to deploy their applications and they were able to run them. But this is only part of the game, and that’s where the next challenges are lying in front of all of us and which we are trying to solve.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. Now let’s talk about what you folks are announcing today.

Manuel Zapf: So Traefik Labs announces the open beta launch of our newest product, which is called Traefik Hub. Traefik Hub is a cloud-native networking platform, which will help users in different sizes to help, and publish, and secure the containers right at the edge instantly. Beforehand, if you had your container-based deployment and get your containers deployed, you had to do a lot of manual steps to actually get this one wired to the Internet like starting with installing some sort of reverse proxy, like Traefik did before, but then you still have the networking site to take care of.

Let’s say you actually configure DNS names to actually point to your reverse proxy. You have to configure a TLS to actually get secured connections because like most of websites or eCommerce shops or whatever, our hands are handling sensitive data. So you, for sure, need secret connections.You had to manage things like redirects, depending on the environment you were running, more network related settings like port forwarding or whatever in order to actually be able to deploy and make possible the usage of that container.

So with Traefik Hub, being a cloud native networking platform, we take this away. With Traefik Hub, you will be able to publish service to the edge instantly, basically with a click, and this click will cost you a minute tops. And then your container is accessible to the complete world, to everyone who wants to access the service, which is a game changer in terms of go to market speed for your application, because it just takes away a lot of your manual steps.

Swapnil Bhartiya: And who are you targeting with this release?

Manuel Zapf: So our first release, our open beta launch, is mainly targeting developers all around the world. Because we, Traefik Labs, being a developer company as well, we know the fields, we know the pain nowadays developers have. Especially if they start to deploy their container applications. Because as I said, there’s a lot of networking steps to do where you actually need to have the knowledge in order to do them. And for most of us including developing, is about really writing code, about making your app more awesome. Do the fun work and actually get this thing to living, but not about caring about all the network related tasks that are attached to actually get it to the outside world.

So we are targeting developers who are tired of doing all the manual work, because it’s just boring and actually focus on getting their services published quickly without them having the headache.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Right. One more thing since you brought up a very interesting point and we are also seeing a lot of shift left movement. At the same time, we are also seeing a lot of things are moving into developers pipeline, the lines between what operators… there used to be different silos. The whole [inaudible 00:06:48] movements was meant to break the silos but the fact is that there are still soft silos today. They still have security. We have teams who are specializing in networking and all those things. So when you do talk about making things easier for developers, can you also talk about how do you look at these movements, are you actually making things easier for developers? Are you removing more things into developers pipeline, which in the end makes more work for them?

Manuel Zapf: That’s actually a good question. How we see the movement is that we embrace dev ops in all its facets. We at Traefik Labs directly, we also run with cross-functional teams, we have everything set up together so that they can actually work. And what we believe is that if we look at traditional setups where there is the networking department, the security department or whatever, while they were fine in doing what they did, they obviously were slow. They had long reaction times and things like that. And what they needed, but never got, is to actually do things easily.

We believe that people should be capable of doing their things by doing them quickly, like simple. For that reason, simplicity is in our DNA, and that’s why we started with Traefik back then because the job before was also in operators work, but it was manual tedious work. So even with that change and we make, for example, the security part or the networking part accessible for developers, it’s for a good cause. The same set of group is now capable of doing more but really quickly, rather than having those silos, having different teams, talking to each other, trying to find consensus or whatever is related.

So it’s not fighting with the movement, but rather going with the movement and embracing it, and enabling teams of all sizes to do their job quickly and actually focus on the things the team wants to do.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. In the beginning, you were also talking about open source and it seems that open source is really critical to Traefik Hub and Traefik in general. So talk about not only why you folks do open source, what value you get out of it? And also, the Traefik, what are the open source aspect, what are the core components there?

Manuel Zapf: So for us, we are founded out of open source. We are an open core company, that’s what we focus around. For us having the big community we have with Traefik, open source is in our hearts. Let’s say we all believe in open source. And therefore for us, our open source movement, in general, is really crucial. If we look at the open source community, it’s a big group. It’s a group, which is really powerful, and really embracing, and really has a lot of facets. This group, in general, is great to exchange ideas, look at different things, look at how they move and all of that.

At the same time for us as a company, obviously it’s a big group as well. I mean, we, as a company started in being in that group as well. So by at first focusing on the open source community, we start to let’s say leverage the community we already have, because Traefik is among the top open source projects that are actually existing, so there is a lot of people. That’s the people we care about. Therefore, the first release of the first set we do with our new product for sure needs to be for those people, because those people, they’re the foundation of everything we did and everything we will do in the future and therefore we need to be right at them.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Manuel, thank you so much for taking time out today and talk about Traefik, Traefik Hub, and also kind of explain the problem that you folks are solving there. And as is, I’d love to have you back on the show. Thank you.

Manuel Zapf: Thank you for having us.


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