Episode 5

How to manage a successful CNCF project with William Morgan of Linkerd


April 6th, 2021

34 mins 11 secs

Your Hosts
Special Guest

About this Episode

Sponsored by Reblaze, creators of Curiefense


Justin Dorfman | Richard Littauer


William Morgan
Co-creator of Linkerd & CEO Buoyant

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Committing to Cloud Native Podcast! It’s the podcast by Reblaze where we talk about open source maintainers, contributors, sustainers, and their experiences in the cloud native space. Today, our special guest is William Morgan, who is the CEO of Buoyant, one of the creators of Linkerd, and a former infrastructure engineer at Twitter. William shares the story of how he went from Twitter to Linkerd, and the company behind Linkerd called Buoyant. We find out what Finagle is and what William does to help make the open source community for Linkerd thrive, and how does Buoyant incentivize user engagement. Also, William shares advice for projects just starting out on how they can best build themselves to be successful, and everything he wants to accomplish with Linkerd. Download this episode to find out much more!

[00:02:05] William fills us in on how he went from Twitter to Linkerd, to where he is today.

[00:05:24] We learn about Finagle.

[00:07:00] Justin wonders if Twitter has moved more to a modern cloud native stack or if it’s the same sort of JVM and all that other stuff.

[00:08:26] William tells us what he means by “put things in the proxy.”

[00:10:34] We find out what Buoyant does and how William dealt with governance issues when he first started out.

[00:14:33] Justin’s been hearing rumors all over the CNCF landscape that William’s “pushing for graduation” and wonders what that means.

[00:15:45] Justin asks William how many companies he thinks are using Linkerd in their stack.

[00:20:15] Richard asks William what he does to help make the open source community for Linkerd thrive, what does Buoyant do to incentivize user engagement, and how does he make sure that people will go beyond just putting themselves as adopters.

[00:23:34] William explains just like choosing what kind of open source project you want, choosing what kind of community you want is also as important.

[00:25:36] Find out what’s next for Linkerd, how will William better serve the people in the open source community, and what he is looking forward to.

[00:28:27] William shares advice on projects that are just starting out, like Curiefense or CNCF projects, and how they can best build themselves to work in this space as successfully as he has.

[00:32:38] Find out where you can follow William online.


Richard Littauer · Justin Dorfman


William Morgan


[00:03:04] “But the infrastructure was changing when I started, there was this monolithic Ruby on Rails app called the MonoRail.”

[00:03:10] “And by the time I left, we had replaced that, or almost replaced it with this massive, what we would now call a Cloud Native architecture, even though it wasn’t built on Docker, it wasn’t built on Kubernetes, it wasn’t even built on Containers.”

[00:07:58] “And the modern Linkerd is totally different from, I mean the same heritage, but it’s written in Go for the control plane and Rust it for the data plane, and it’s like a fraction of the CPU and memory cost and much faster and so on.”

[00:11:18] “Well, the best way to be successful is to have a commercial backer that is funding this project.”

[00:15:01] “And step two is find the corresponding SIG so there’s a CNCF set of SIG’s and have them do an initial review.”

[00:16:52] “I mean it’s like bribery. I’m like, just kind of blatant about it. I’m like, Hey, I will send you swag, like I will pay money to buy swag and send it to you if you add yourself to ADOPTERS.md.”

[00:18:11] “The vast majority of users are just in the iceberg part that’s not the tip. The butt of the iceberg, that’s under the water, and we just never know about it.”

[00:20:57] “There’s a line you have to walk, I think, between being the customer support person where it’s like yes, I will always help everyone with every single thing.”

[00:21:32] “Linkerd is just as much their project as it is ours. The moment they use Linkerd they are an official Linkerd community member, or even Read the Docs, you’re officially a Linkerd community member.”

[00:23:18] “I was just saying anytime someone gets some recognition, it really just, their self-esteem goes up, more productivity, they become a brand advocate and they talk about Linkerd and how awesome the community is.”

[00:23:34] “Just like with kind of choosing what kind of open source project you want, I think choosing what kind of community you want is also something that you have to be intentional about.”

[00:24:20] “It’s because the whole point of open source is that you have this self-reinforcing community, and that is bringing Linkerd to the rest of the world. They’re like infecting the world with Linkerd. That’s what I want!”

[00:28:40] “So, I think for Curiefense, like Linkerd, I think one thing you really have to get clear about is what’s the relationship between the company behind it and the open source project.”

[00:29:53] “Another thing we’ve learned is that adoption is weird. This Cloud Native space, I don’t know if it’s, I’ve got to imagine other spaces are like this too, but there’s a lot of fashion, there’s a lot of fad.”

[00:30:28] “And who is writing the blog posts and jumping from one hype wagon to the next.”

[00:31:07] “So, that’s my other advice, I guess, is understanding the nature of adoption and being able to pick apart real adoption from buzz adoption.”



Curiefense Twitter



Justin Dorfman Twitter

Richard Littauer Twitter

William Morgan Twitter


Linkerd Twitter


Buoyant Twitter