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How Ngrok helps speed up application development with simplified ingress, self-service infrastructure

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Modern organizations manage anywhere from 200 to 1,000 apps (possibly more). 

But at this scale, spending days or weeks for teams to provision networking infrastructure can bring productivity to a halt. 

Instead, advises Alan Shreve, founder and CEO of Ngrok: “Automate to empower your developers.” 

“Enabling developers with self-service infrastructure lets them build and deploy apps more efficiently, without leaving their workflow,” he said. 

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To bolster its platform addressing this issue, Ngrok today announced that it has closed $50 million in series A funding for its API-first ingress-as-a-service platform. Ngrok is a programmable network edge that adds connectivity, security and observability to apps with no code changes, explained Shreve. 

“Traditional networking requires infrastructure teams to operate legacy proxies, load balancers, or VPNs, which is a slow, manual process,” said Shreve. “As developers face substantial pressure to deliver applications faster, they need more self-service and automation.” 

Simplifying app development and delivery

The way developers build applications has fundamentally changed, Shreve pointed out. 

Microservice architectures, serverless platforms, and other shifts in the industry have led to a proliferation of new APIs and apps that need their own ingress — which provides application delivery and makes services securely available — in different environments.

In typical application delivery, developers often “tape together” various open-source projects and home-grown proxy layers and combine them with disparate services from cloud-specific vendors, said Shreve. Developers are then required to configure unnecessarily low-layer networking resources like IPs, DNSs, VPNs and firewalls to deliver applications.

Ngrok seeks to avoid that complexity by decoupling ingress from the application’s environment, allowing developers to deliver apps the same way, regardless of whether they’re deployed to AWS, serverless platforms, their own data center or IoT devices. 

The platform collapses the “complex web” of networking technologies into a unified layer, so developers don’t have to depend on other teams to provision ingress infrastructure, which can delay time-to-market. 

With one line of code, developers can get instant ingress to applications and services with authentication, single sign-on, observability and other critical controls — and without provisioning legacy proxies, load balancers or VPNs, said Shreve. 

Powering Zendesk

For example, as Ngrok customer Zendesk was undergoing significant growth, its global software engineering team faced the time-consuming hassles of sharing, integrating and validating apps built on developer machines, Shreve explained. 

The team regularly lost days of engineering effort with slow and unreliable tunneling tools that required a significant amount of troubleshooting, he said. But a small group of engineers began using Ngrok in 2015 and usage quickly spread, with engineers reporting efficiency, reliability, ease of use and the platform’s ability to “eliminate days of wasted effort.” 

New users could be up and running in 15 minutes and collaborators gained “straightforward access” to applications for testing and iteration, said Shreve. Now, Ngrok is used by 200 engineers at the leading customer service software and sales CRM provider. 

Empowering next-gen apps

With no prior outside funding, Ngrok is already used by 5 million developers at companies including Zendesk, Copado and Veritas, said Shreve. The company has been solely funded by more than 30,000 paying customers, and top technology companies — including Microsoft, GitHub, Okta, Shopify, Zoom, and Twilio — recommend Ngrok in their documentation.

Furthermore, the company’s team has built and scaled software at Twilio, Okta, Google, AWS, MongoDB, Digital Ocean and others. 

Today’s funding round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners with participation from Coatue. The company will use it to scale to meet increasing demand for its platform across a variety of enterprise use cases, said Shreve. 

“As we scale, our focus remains on how we built the business to date: Delivering real value for real customers and empowering developers to build the next generation of applications,” he said. 

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