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Wrapping up 2023: Cilium and Isovalent’s growth and vision for cloud-native

Roland Wolters
Roland Wolters
Published: Updated: Isovalent
Isovalent, Xmas style, holiday season

The year 2023 is coming to an end, and 2024 is just around the corner. Time to look back at 2023, put a spotlight on what happened around Cilium and Isovalent, and celebrate the growth, the vision, and what we accomplished!

What growth did we see in 2023?

If there is one big takeaway from 2023, then it is the continued growth. Of course, this is true for Cilium in itself – as it was already in the last few years.

Cilium growth in 2023

A great confirmation of the growth and endorsement of the path we are on is, of course, the CNCF Cilium graduation. For us at Isovalent and the broader community involved in maintaining and developing Cilium, this was a huge thing – and not only for us, it got quite some media attention:,,, TheNewStack, and many others covered the graduation!

But the growth is visible not only in the GitHub stars but also in the amazing software releases. There were the big Cilium OSS releases, but this year, we also covered our Enterprise releases in extensive detail:

And, of course, there was the 1.0 release of another eBPF-based project: Cilium’s security observability and enforcement platform Tetragon. As with every 1.0 release, this was a big thing for us and an important release in general. Understandably, it also got a lot of media coverage: TheNewStack, sdxcentral, InfoQ, and ITOpsTimes.

And what is behind each and every release? Code! A lot of code. And that is coming in faster than ever. The project saw 40% more PRs than last year!

Hubble was part of that growth as well. And while there was not a “release” in terms of version numbers, our teams walked the extra mile in 2023 to communicate what Hubble is all about, what use cases it covers, and what it can be used for: Re-introducing Hubble gave a great intro, Hubble for the Enterprise had more details where Hubble – and Timescape – help with production deployments, and Hubble and Grafana Better Together explained how to combine the forces of Hubble and Grafana. And there were not only blog posts: we also released a bunch of videos at the same time! Check out our Observability playlist on the Isovalent YouTube channel.

Speaking about the YouTube channel: have you seen that we launched a redesign of our channel? There are also new playlists that better sort all the videos and add a more consistent and appealing visual style to all videos. This caters to our ever-growing number of followers and subscribers to our social channels. This is another area where we have seen continuous growth – on YouTube and other platforms. For example, we doubled the number of followers we have on LinkedIn. Welcome everybody! 🙂

Isovalent YouTube growth 2023

We used social media to promote our blogs, and we saw incredible growth as well: had an increase of over 60% in blog posts this year, and more than doubled the output of blog posts! As part of this, we saw high-level introductory pieces like Zero Trust Security with Cilium, but also posts going into the low-level details, like the Deep Dive into Cilium Gateway API, discussing the future of Ingress traffic routing.

Apart from blogs, we also had our webinars! Did you participate in one of them? We had multiple over the course of the year, more than ever. For example, we trained people in Hubble, both in EMEA and the US. And we ran the summer of security, which was a huge success!

But virtual interaction can only get you so far – nothing beats personal interaction: I speak of conferences and workshops. And in this regard, the entire year 2023 was full of mind-blowing events. Did you get the chance to go to KubeCon Amsterdam or KubeCon Chicago? Then you will have seen the growth yourself. The crowds at the booths! The hive times! The activation zone! It was amazing!

Cilium Cupcakes

There was also the Isovalent Workshop tour, which consisted of on-site events across multiple countries with partners that provided a comprehensive understanding of Cilium and how to utilize it. With 20 workshops, it was a huge success and shows the growth in our partner landscape.

Isovalent Workshop tour 2023

It was not only the workshop tours where our partnerships grew: Isovalent Cilium for Enterprise became available in both Microsoft Azure Marketplace and AWS Marketplace! We also published a huge set of supporting blog posts on how to use Cilium on those platforms and how to get the most out of it!

And what did we do at the workshops? If you know some of our content, I am sure you came across our famous labs and badges. It feels like ages ago, but we just launched the badges a year ago, and their usage exploded. As part of that, our labs also saw a crazy increase: we added about 20 more labs in the last year, like Golden Signals with Hubble and Grafana, Advanced BGP Features, and Cilium Multi-Networking. While the labs are great in themselves, we realized that this content needs some guidance about what and when to consume it. So we created Cilium personas and corresponding learning tracks, for people to better identify with and to better understand what labs work best for them. We also launched the World of Cilium, an interactive, playful map to show people their progress and even show when others are doing it, and we launched the new Cilium discovery labs, which give a brief insight into the value our tooling provides in a short and compact manner.

Cilium and Isovalent 2023

Speaking about badges, don’t forget that there is now a fully blown Cilium Certified Associate (CCA) exam available, with an official certification coming soon as well!

All this growth is the result of a huge community – which is also growing! Over 30 new users and use cases were added to Cilium’s public user database, and Isovalent added multiple new customer case studies. And then there are the teams around Cilium and Isovalent – doing the code, running the events, conferences, webinars, creating blogs, videos, labs, supporting users and customers, and everything else. This awesome set of people coming together made this amazing journey of growth of Cilium and Isovalent in 2023 possible, and we are grateful to be part of this!

What vision did we see in 2023?

2023 not only brought the realization of ambitious goals set out several years ago but also defined the long-term vision.

Cilium is here to stay – and it is bringing a new wave of networking.

First, let’s revisit some previous predictions. In 2017, during a presentation on Cilium at future:net 2017, Thomas suggested that “the introduction of eBPF will allow you to run sidecar functionality in race car mode”.

In 2021, Cilium announced the beta version of its sidecar-free service mesh, which became available a few months later with Cilium 1.12. That same year, Thomas described the vision of a decoupled mutual authentication and encryption model in this blog post. A beta version of mTLS-based mutual authentication became available with Cilium 1.14. The adoption of our service mesh continues to grow – especially for observability, ingress and encryption use cases). And the upcoming Cilium 1.15 release will give users even more reasons to try it.

Building on that, the vision was further set out at CiliumCon Europe 2023 with the announcement of Cilium Mesh. The idea to connect non-K8s environments with Kubernetes via the power of Cilium Mesh is striking – and is much needed. Don’t you also have workloads that are not cloud-native, but that you would really like to connect to your Kubernetes clusters seamlessly?

Cilium Mesh marketechture overview

From an industry perspective, a strong validation of the vision was when Isovalent was named a leader in GigaOM Radar report for Cloud Networking. Isn’t it great when your vision gets so much support from the outside?

GigaOM Radar Report Cloud Networking

Isovalent was also recognized in the inaugural Fortune Cyber 60 awards — Fortune and Lightspeed Venture Partners’ list of the fastest-growing startups in the critical field of cybersecurity. The award recognizes “the most important venture-backed startups that offer enterprise-grade cybersecurity solutions” and places Isovalent in the “Early-growth-stage companies” category.

If you are looking for a more down-to-earth vision, something tangible, we published content catering to this as well: as creators of Cilium, our team did a set of three webinars and explained Cilium in great detail, starting with the Cilium story so far, followed by a technical deep dive under the hood of Cilium, and finished with Cilium in action, Cilium in real-world use cases.

Sometimes, we can also look forward by looking back: with the eBPF Documentary: eBPF’s Creation Story – Unlocking The Kernel! It captures the creation of eBPF from its inception and, while doing so, gives insights into the vision of the changes that are still to come. If you have time on your hands during the quiet period, I can only recommend that you watch it!

Last but not least, there was one more thing that happened at the end of 2023, just a few hours ago. You might have heard about it already – Cisco announced the intent to acquire Isovalent.

Cisco to acquire Isovalent

Good bye 2023, see you in 2024!

2023 brought a lot of growth and vision to Isovalent and Cilium. Thanks for being part of the journey with us! We at Isovalent wish you great holidays! Enjoy the time, and make the most out of it.

You will hear from us after the holidays. Look out for us sharing some thoughts on what will be important in the coming year!

Roland Wolters
AuthorRoland WoltersHead of Technical Marketing, Isovalent



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