A Backstory to River

Earlier this week Prossimo announced a new open source reverse proxy, River, that is to be built on top of Cloudflare's Pingora.

Here is my account of the backstory to all of this.

At USENIX's Enigma 2023 conference was a fireside chat on the State of Memory Safety with Amira Dhalla, Yel Grauer, Alex Gaynor, and Josh Aas. It was clear to me that Josh Aas of Prossimo cared quite a bit about memory safe software that powers the internet; Prossimo's list of initiatives they've worked on is quite extensive and covers components which would be essential to a wide variety parts of making the internet function.

Shopify had recently published a blog post authored by Mike Shaver announcing its dive into Rust and its intentions to "participate in the Rust community and ecosystem. We’re excited to be part of Rust’s mission to empower everyone to build sustainable, memory-safe, efficient software...". I thought this charter from Shopify was relatively open-ended in how it would contribute to the ecosystem and it might be possible for Shopify to contribute to building memory safe software for the internet. As an employee at Shopify (and still employed at Shopify at the time of writing this), I felt that I could maybe tie Prossimo's mission and Shopify's intentions with Rust together.

The last day of Enigma I spoke with Josh Aas and Alex Gaynor on the idea of possibly having Shopify fund development of a reverse proxy written in Rust to something that was comparable to nginx. Josh had very clear ideas of how to do it. He had thought about doing such a thing already and had two approaches in mind. One of which was to use Cloudflare's Pingora - which at the time was not open source but merely mentioned in an alluring blog post.

I sent an introductory email with Mike Shaver, Josh Aas, and Alex Gaynor to connect the three on the idea of Prossimo building a reverse proxy with sponsorship from Shopify.

From a thought in my mind to 13 months later, we got the Prossimo blog post "announcing plans to build a new high performance and memory safe reverse proxy in partnership with Cloudflare, Shopify, and Chainguard".

I did not expect to see this announcement but I am quite excited to see what comes of it.