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Freelance Cloud Engineer – AWS + Azure and Powershell

We zijn op zoek naar een Cloud Engineer met Microsoft Azure + AWS skills en Powershell ervaring voor een opdracht van 3-6 maanden.

Onze klant creëert en beheert online omgevingen + complete backend voor haar opdrachtgevers. Dit zijn onder andere grote luchtvaart maatschappijen, online retailers, automotive- en fashionbedrijven. Concreet worden er complete e-commerce omgevingen voor deze opdrachtgevers ontworpen en ingericht, die deels on-premise en deels in de cloud worden gehost.

We zoeken naar cloud engineers met ervaring in het automatiseren van hybride omgevingen – waarbij specifiek Azure en AWS kennis noodzakelijk is. Daarbij zijn we ook op zoek naar configuration management ervaring – liefst ook Powershell.

Je maakt deel uit van een DevOps team dat zorgt voor het automatiseren van de omgeving, je helpt bij het optimaliseren van de monitoring en performance tuning.

Gewenste skills:

– Azure


– Powershell

–  Puppet

– Grote pré: Sitecore


– Duur: 3 – 6 maanden

– Tarifef: € 75,00 – € 80,00


Onze klant zit in Eindhoven, maar 3 dagen thuiswerken per week is bespreekbaar.

Velocity Amsterdam – Organisation Matters






Date: 07-9-2016

I had the pleasure to be invited to the Velocity conference in Amsterdam. Around 1000 backend (web)developers & operations engineers gather each year in the RAI for this growing conference. The level of talks is great: lots of highly concentrated information was fired at the audience.

The speakers today offered contagious insights, causing serious idea sprawl. I found myself both inspired and immersed, a pleasant state of mind.

I’d love to share some takeaways from the talk of James Duncan He consults the British Government and voiced his views on how large corporations and governments are inhibited by their size and the need to change this.

Small companies Fail fast, Fail early
Small companies are generally more innovative than large governments or corporates. Generally, due to their level of maturity and lack of capital resources, small companies also live more uncertain lives than the big boys.

This higher level of uncertainty in turn creates a greater need to adapt. Smaller companies need to be agile, be able to reinvent themselves quickly and react very quickly to mistakes – or they die.

This fast iteration cycle creates a very fast learning curve, producing innovative companies.

Too big to fail and learn
Ironically, small companies that do not die often become large corporates or are acquired by them. They tend to lose their innovative edge because the level of uncertainty becomes radically less.

Large corporations and governments have the capital resources to make many mistakes and not learn from them. They are too big to fail and too big to learn.

Size matters
So Small companies have the advantage to ‘Need’ to adapt and learn quickly. Large companies have more resources but do not have the ‘Need’ to use them efficiently.

This standoff should still leave corporates and governments in the advantage of, in addition to their financial capital, having more human capital at their disposal. More brainpower.

Why then does this not seem to translate to higher levels innovative power?

When joining a new government organisation as an employee, it is not uncommon to have to wait for months before all of the IT resources are allocated. It is not only hard to understand why Corporate IT processes seem so medieval compared to smaller companies, it is especially concerning when precisely these internal processes are vital to leveraging human capital.

Organisation matters
Traditional Corporate IT seems less able than smaller companies to adapt to outside changes. The exponential growth of key IT technologies only highten the need to have a responsive IT organisation.

The answer is in organisation. Corporate IT will have to change the way it is organised to remain innovative and competitive. Luckily the past years has brought new ideas in the form of tools and processes have arrived to empower organisations to do just that. I look forward to learning the latest and greatest on these development at this great event!


Back with a vengeance


New articles are arriving shortly, after a six-month period of inactivity.

New articles are arriving shortly, after a six-month period of inactivity.

I feel the absence on my blog deserves a little explaining. New articles are arriving shortly, after a six-month period of inactivity.

New articles are arriving shortly, after a six-month period of inactivity.

Besides interviewing Silicon Valley executives, I have three more activities that have been drawing my attention.

First, my primary occupation is owner/ headhunter at my company Indigo Infra. We recruit for technical and commercial leadership positions in IT infrastructure. Business has been great and we are expanding, hiring more staff to cope with the increased client base.

Second, in an effort to work more efficiently at Indigo, we are building a matching engine to automate away part of our recruitment process. This allows us to focus our human capital on human interaction; where we can really make a difference. We are currently in the process of building the prototype.

Third, together with my business partner Jaap van Goch, we joined EVO Venture Partners. EVO is a young venture capital firm focused on early stage start-ups in IT Infrastructure. The value that EVO brings to start-ups is knowledge, network and experience, in addition to seed capital. The team has a mix of IT entrepreneurs, engineers, headhunters and lawyers – all experienced in IT infrastructure.

Things are moving along nicely now in all three areas, allowing me to take up writing again. Next to IT Infrastructure I will be covering a wider range of topics, including HR/recruitment start-ups and quantum computing.

As a headhunter I have particular interest in the recruitment market. I feel that the increasing shortage of great IT specialists cannot be combatted by the traditional recruitment approach. Maturity of data analytics, mobile- and cloud infrastructure technology makes the time right to transform the recruitment space.

Quantum computing is a topic I have personally been triggered by for a long time. I find the subject enigmatic; its workings are elusive to both IT specialists and physicists around me. That makes it a particularly compelling area for me to focus on.

So that’s what you may expect the coming time. Stay tuned!

Willem ter Harmsel

Interview with Steve Herrod – General Catalyst Partners

General Catalyst Partners, Interview with Steve Herrod
Date: 16 February 2015
General Catalyst Partners Crunchbase profile

Recently I had the great honor and pleasure to speak with Steve Herrod, managing director at General Catalyst partners. Before entering the VC world, Steve enjoyed an impressive 12-year long career at VMware where he held various technical leadership roles and left as CTO.

I had a very forthright talk with Steve, no marketing speak or any rehearsed answers. To reflect the open nature of our chat, I left the transcription largely un-edited.

Steve-HerrodI spoke to Steve about developments in the market and his investmentfocus at General Catalyst partners. Specifically we discussed the trend towards Mobile, Mobile payment and the increased scarcity in developer talent.

WTH:Hi Steve!
SH:Hi Willem, How are you?

WTH:Good! Thanks for making time. I recently heard you are a great beer lover. West Vleteren is your favorite, if I am not mistaken?
SH:I drink a lot of Belgian beer. That is for sure.

WTH:I have the same vice. I love it.
SH:We have a great place out here in Palo Alto. If you are here again you should try it. All they stock is Belgian Ale.

WTH:The first time I went to San Francisco was in 2009. To my great surprise I could choose three types of Duvel from draught. One of which was taken to market much later in Holland, but I drank it the first time in San Francisco.
SH:There you go. Are you getting out here very often? Or are you pretty much there most of the time?

WTH:I’m mostly here in Europe. But we expect to do much more travelling from now on. We are becoming bigger right now with more clients from San Francisco and the Bay Area.
SH:If you are here again it would be fun to meet in person.

WTH:Thanks, we will do that at the Palo Alto bar then. I would love that. You are based in Palo Alto? You live there as well?
SH:Yes, I’m based in Palo Alto. I live and work here. Most of the start-ups that I’m working with are in this area. But obviously there are some interesting ones surround the world as well.

On his move from VMware to General Catalyst Partners

WTH:It has been more than twelve years that you have worked for VMware right?
SH:I have worked at the company before it was a company, in Stanford. Then I did another start-up, and I was there for almost twelve years. Just over a year ago I joined a Venture Capitalist.

WTH:I think many people were surprised when you made that move. How did people around you react?
SH:There have been mixed reactions and a lot of questions. I have been thinking about it for a long time but I definitely had a theory that not enough investors have the engineering background that you get in a CTO role. I felt it was the perfect time to have a different approach to investing. So far things are good.

A lot of start-ups have looked for someone with a different background from other VCs. A lot of people try to build very technical enterprise IT companies. Having been a CTO at VMware; it has prepared me perfectly for finding and helping these next really cool companies that they are building out here.

WTH:Lots of start-ups in Sillicon Valley started as internal projects at VMware that you helped along the way, right?
SH:It has been really amazing. Obviously you know many of the companies yourself. VMware has created this giant ecosystem. PernixData, Bracket Computing, Illumio, Nuova Systems, these companies are founded from what has already been there.

WTH:Of the top of my head I am thinking Platform9, Hillview Technologies.
SH:There are literally hundreds of great teams that are attacking nasty problems. In a lot of them, I am very interested.

Move to Mobile

WTH:I loved the interview you did with The Cloudcast guys, they asked you for the most significant developments. One thing you indicated was the move enterprise companies are making to mobile.
SH:: I really think, Willem, people have not totally grasped the idea. I spend a lot of time with LinkedIn, Facebook and SalesForce. The transformation they made is amazing. They pivoted from a 100% webcompany to a mobile company. I think right now there are many good reasons why enterprises are going to be making the big shift.

One is that consumer expectations definitely crossed the chasm. It is unacceptable now to have these terrible apps, so there is just demand for 100% mobile apps. People will go elsewhere; they go use dropbox or something else if they don’t like what IT does.

Second, it is actually far easier to build for mobile platforms now as well. There is far less diversity than forty years ago: there is really two platforms where you have to worry about.

WTH:IOS and Android.
SH:IOS and Android that’s it. If you are really focused on those two you are going to be fine. The skill sets really caught up well, there are Objective C or Swift classes wherever you go, companies are retraining Java programmers to Android programmers.

I see everywhere that people are building API’s for the first time and I’m really heavily interested in API build-outs for companies. It is the core engine that is going to allow the creation of mobile applications, but also allowing a more diverse set of people accessing that critical asset that companies have. So I’m helping to build their API’s for the first time, and thinking about that is kind of the fuel for next generations of applications.

WTH:Regarding this whole move to mobile, what are some of the most striking applications in your mind?
SH:Well I think it starts with just the way people are working. It starts with the experience of accessing key data and applications wherever you are. My focus is on big companies, but I also have quite a bit of interest in smaller and medium sized businesses. These aren’t techy businesses, like you and I are in, but the core businesses out there. I’m part owner of a café. If you think about how workers that work in a café work, they don’t have sit down desks.

WTH:Did you say you were partner in a café? Is it the one in Palo Alto?
SH:(laughing)Yes it is. Belgian Ale and Italian Coffee. The point with smaller companies; their workers don’t have a place where to sit down. Doing their hours, or payroll or even trying to get feedback to the owner of the business, is going to be done through the new class of applications. The move to mobile enables the connection to a new type of workforce. So I really think it is going to expand everywhere. Obviously mobile changed geo-location and everything in terms of bringing you the right context at the right time.

WTH:Right now IT infrastructure is dominated by datacenters, these big blocks of storage, compute and networking. With everything becoming mobile how will this architecture change?
SH:Great question. Even if you go one level above as you just asked. On every CIO’s agenda is choosing where todays and tomorrows mobile application is going to run. Is it virtualized here? Or is it on amazon’s web services, will it be on Dockers or should I just throw my hands up and move it to SAAS? That question about where applications run is the basis for a lot.

Below that: how do I properly embrace great user experiences in that plan? Whether it is mobile or something else. Access points in these data platforms.

I think that what is so interesting is that the real asset is the data, and the data that the application is manipulating. And certainly some of that will be running in public cloud services. In business a lot of markets are running on whatever system they have. I am getting excited about API creations and I am really thinking about this as the entry point. So obviously, these become mass applications. Every application is reaching out and grabbing data and reaching a bunch of different places.

So on premise you are going to have to have ways to plumb in and get to your data, but the back of the mobile app or the mobile app itself could easily be running on Amazon or some other SAAS environment. That causes all sorts of network traffic and all sorts of security implications. And all sorts of performances challenges: how do I know what the slowest peace of the puzzle is so I can make my mobile app fast?

Rise of Mobile payment

WTH:There is another class of things I’m personally interested in: it is mobile payment and mobile peer-to-peer payment. A point Vint Cerf raised a while back: there are three and a half billion people connected right now and that leaves around four billion people that are not yet. These same people are also part of the “unbankable”, not actively taking part in the world economy. Mobile payment will be enormous.
SH:It is very interesting if you read about some of the more developing countries, the core unit of these being several African countries. The money exchanges through text messages, it is actually a reliable service and there are some great succes stories.

WTH:We’ve been working with a new company in London that’s called Moni Technologies. They are working with the M-Pesa guys that created that text-based system and are building a 2.0 of that.
SH:Great! We are investors in Stripe, which is a neat company that has the goal to incorporate payments of all sorts directly into websites. Two Irish twins, who are amazing guys, built this really great business by being focused on making it very easy for developers to build it in to their site. It is expanding internationally and makes is possible to take different currencies, even BitCoin if people wanted to use that. But the real idea is: payments are core to everything. People to people are the same as business to people.

Developer scarcity

SH:On the top I want to bring up one other point. I think the developer angle on all of this is a lot of passion and focus. I believe that we’re at a point where developers now have more power over enterprise IT than they had in the past. I think that big developers are going to drive the future of enterprise IT and specifically mobile applications developers are going to be setting the agenda more and more.

There is such a scarcity of talent in that space. What you see if you go to Intuit, they have a great training programme that is taking their existing workers and really turning them into IOS programmers. Talent is really going to be the scarcest resource in achieving all of this.

WTH:There are tons of coder academy types initiatives in Silicon Valley already. Wouldn’t it be interested for a VC start these academies?
SH:Web programming is such a democratized field, you can do it whether you are middle schooler all the way up to a very seasoned person. I think that skill sets are in such a great demand that you can make a great living doing so. We actually see this as a core value that as a Venture Capitalist firm to provide this access to talent. We focus on getting to know the best places, the best academies where programmers are and making it clear what great companies they could go to.

I am not sure if we would run an academy ourselves. But I would definitely sponsor one and enable it, eventually help programmers to move on to companies as they finish. It is a very interesting idea that we have been thinking about, I think you are on to something.

WTH:You are programming in Swift yourself I heard.
SH:I probably am not an advanced programmer at all, but I always enjoyed keeping track with the latest technologies so I can be intelligent about it. But Swift is really cool if you haven’t tried it yet. It is a really easy way to make some great mobile apps quickly.

WTH:I will give it a try actually. I am working on learning coding myself. It will really help my job and understand what is going on. I used to be able to do QBasic and C but it is a long time ago.
SH:These languages are so much easier than learning QBasic and C, it is really straight forward to have very quick output for relatively little work, which is very nice.

On Steve’s personal life and views

WTH:How about your personal choices? Are you married, do you have kids? I think you are a busy guy.
SH:I have a fun family, I have three kids. I actually subject them tremendously to market research. I have a fourteen-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old boy who are just now really getting in to programing as well. So it really has been fun for me, keeping track of what schools are doing right now. Neither of them own a single textbook, neither of them has to turn in homework in any way expect through an iPad or online. GoogleDocs is the way they all work. It is really amazing to watch how, in one generation, the education process is working so differently.

WTH:For kids growing up now, life is completely different.
SH:Absolutely, (Laughing) I just have to tell you this other thing. I was at one of my kids sporting events and there was this little four-year-old kid, maybe three years old, and her dad handed her a blackberry phone to have her stop crying. But when she tried to touch the screen it didn’t do anything so she started crying.

WTH:Haha..that does show how technology changes people in a fundamental way. Do you sympathize with the whole singularity idea? What Ray Kurzweil is proposing.
SH:Honestly, I tend to focus much lower in the stack. The mobile infrastructure is certainly one thing. But I find myself much more drawn in to thinking about where containers and Docker go and looking at Open Stack these other areas. Definitely down below that. I kind of think of that as ground work that is ultimately going to enable all those higher level interesting functions to occur.

Investment focus

WTH:You must visit quite a few of start-ups all the time. I heard you say that it was quite a number that you are just friends with or keep in touch with just for your ecosystem fuel, to keep it up to date.
SH:Yes obviously this job is all about continuously learning and keeping track with what is new, both from what costumers are demanding and people are building. What I really enjoy is going around to a lot of big companies around here. I go to tech-talks and talk a little bit about things that I learned while building the VMware engineering team.

In turn I learn what it is like to compete these days, what it is like to have a subscription based licensing versus the traditional approach. The companies I meet are going through new things that are really relevant to start-ups.

WTH:One of your first real investments was Virtual Instruments I believe, right? That was one where you were heavily involved in.
SH:Our partnership invested in it. It is a cool company and I actually had used their technology before, but I wasn’t the lead investor in it. But I spend a lot of time with John Thompson, the CEO, and he is an amazing guy, former CEO of Symantec.

WTH:I spoke to him and interviewed him as well.
SH:Great! I really loved working with John. He in turn is an investor in several of the companies I am working with, like Illumio: it is a stealth company where John is an investor in, it has been very interesting.

WTH:Impressive how Satya Nadella is so clearly focused on mobile as the way forward for Microsoft, that must resonate with you.
SH:I have had the pleasure of meeting Satya, just once or twice. I think he is a very smart and interesting leader that is going to take them forward. The Minecraft acquisition was interesting as well. If you have kids you know what that is like.

WTH:How about the investment focus of the companies that you are focusing on right now? How would you delineate your core interests right? What companies do you really want to invest in?
SH:I definitely take a sort of technologist longer-term view towards it. So I definitely try to do things that I know might take a while to develop. The real goal is to have an opinion on where the world is headed and the disruptions that are taking place. Then you find a killer set of engineers and business people that capable to attack that.

By nature I focus on early stage enterprise IT. I prefer to get involved before the product exists, sharing my experience on the things you should be careful about and things to know about. I enjoy helping to build engineering teams and understanding how to reach the type of costumers that we reached at VMware.

That has been really our focus. One of these big disruption areas, whether it be mobile or whether it be thinking about security in a multicloud world, those are two really big things. Getting involved with teams in a way and finding good chemistry and working together.

WTH:That is where your skillset comes in handy again.
SH:I didn’t realize how useful my CTO background really would be, but I do think that the things you do as a CTO are almost exactly the same. You have to have an opinion on where the world goes and convince people to go after the right things. Lastly, you really make a big bet and you don’t be shy about it. Go big on wherever you have your passion. I think that is exactly what a good Venture Capitalist person should be doing.

WTH:Steve, thanks very much for talking. I really appreciate you took time out of your day for me. Great to catch up with you when I am in Palo Alto. You have a good day.
SH:Thanks Willem. You too.

For more VC interviews, check out my VC series here

Interview with Jeff Hausman – CloudPhysics

CloudPhysics, Interview with CEO Jeff Hausman
Date: 25-2-2015
CloudPhysics Crunchbase profile


I had the pleasure to speak with Jeff Hausman of CloudPhysics, who took over the CEO role from founder John Blumenthal.

This interview is a follow-up of my interview with John a while back, when he was still the CEO.

I interviewed Jeff about his go-to market strategy, views on the global market space and CloudPhysics’ product evolution.

Jef Hausman

WTH: Thanks very much for taking time out of your day for me. How did the CEO change between you and John Blumenthal come about, did John approach you directly?
JH: I have actually known John for many years, as you probably figured out. I uncovered at one point that there was a search going on. John and I got together and talked about what it was they were looking for. He really sold me on the opportunity to come in and help drive the organization behind the team. I got to meet with the founders of the organization, the board members, to really make sure it was a good fit.

The way I view the process in hindsight, is a kind of serendipity of potential timing, based on where I was at the time with Symantec.

WTH: What are you focusing on specifically right now?
JH: What I am focused on right now is taking the platform that we build, continue to enhance and drive that forward. In June 2014 we announced a set of new storage analytics. We have recently introduced the Data Store Contention card and the VMware IO contention card.

You know that we have the analogy of a deck of cards; a card represents a particular analytic, for instance surrounding snapshots or space savings. We introduced some new interface changes to them; the card will give you a visual indicator if there are items that need attention on the card itself.

So let’s say there are two items that need attention, two areas of snapshots you approve. Click on that and it will automatically show you those in the frame and give you the ability to understand what the problems are. Additionally we introduced Daily and Global insights.

Daily Insights allows you to log in and see for all these key cards, what the items are that require attention. This enables you to get to where the problem is fast, without having to navigate all those different cards.

We also created what we call Global Insights, where you can benchmark your own environment to what is happening with the global dataset.

These areas are a starting point for what we want to do. To better expose the information of people so they can make actional decisions quickly.

WTH: It sounds like a real nice gradual evolution. Is it fair to say that John has more focus on product with you at the helm?
JH: Yes, it has allowed John to focus on products. In fact, that is the domain that he really likes and enjoys.

We have seen quite an uptake in customers, both direct and via our partners. These partners are interested in our product for understanding their customers environments better as a part of their pre-sales activities and post-sales implementation.

WTH: Are we talking about large system integrators that you are working with? Are you also speaking with known OEM’s?
JH: I can’t get in to the specifics, but I would say that we have a range of partnerships that we are exploring.

The variety of partners we are talking to are system integrators to traditional Value added resellers. We are seeing great opportunity in that broad spectrum across. And by the way, we have partners coming to us wanting to become a partner.

WTH: It makes a lot of sense, it is a great sales tool.
JH: Yes, what I also see now with our SAAS based product is a democratization in IT. If you are a costumer and you want to work with a particular partner, in the past there was a lot of geographical focus. You would either work with partners that were regionally located, or you had large multinational or global partners that you could work in local geographies.

With the SAAS model, any partner with a particular set of expertise can be enabled. That is a new opportunity.

WTH: Will you be focusing on a primarily indirect on a Sales model in that way or will you be employing local Sales forces?

JH: We have a mix right now and I see both of those continuing over time.

That said I certainly see great opportunity in keeping our approach channel friendly. When I was at Veritas I literally in one year shifted sales from 70 / 30 direct to a 30 / 70 indirect. So we went to an indirect model and we enabled the partners and grew that business dramatically through the years.

There is great opportunity to scale with the partner in the eco-system. We will always support costumers who will come directly to us. That is just the nature of a SAAS application. But there is an ability to do both. This is really where I can see it us going.

WTH: How does your product relate to Virtual Instruments, I spoke with them a while back.

JH: I think we are different. The things that Virtual Instruments are doing is going deep into the physical infrastructure. (Laughing) Which is ironic considering the name.

I don’t see us going there. Our focus is literally virtual environments. We are looking at platform expansion, as you would expect. I know you talked with John about this in the past. We started with VMware because of the pedigree of our founding organization team, but we certainly have our eyes on other hypervisors and other markets. Whether that is moving in to the open environments are things that are on our roadmap and thoughts process.

I think the focus for us right now is on HyperV, maybe at a later phase Dockers. In fact one of the things that we find is a lot of people that come to the side and give us feedback: “this is great, where do you have the HyperV version, so I can use that? Because I am not a VMware shop.”

WTH: Aside from the US and Europe, how do you view the Asian Market?
JH: I see it as a very strong opportunity for us. One of our very early adopted costumers that is going on for years, is actually a service provider in Australia. So we have relationships there. That service provider is also working with us and helping to promote, and get others in that geography. Ironically my Head of Sales is also from Australia. We also have pretty aggressive activities going on with very large partners and very large costumers over in Japan.

In past companies I have done much business in Asia, so I see the same opportunity for us here at CloudPhysics. Asia is definitely the fastest growing market. Something that cannot be ignored.

WTH: How about China specifically?
JH: We haven’t focused yet on China. China is always an interesting one to crack. Not being a large multinational ourself, it is a little bit harder right now. Given we have so many other opportunities and the investments required over there. I am focusing on the easier countries to execute now and we will figure that out as we go.

WTH: India?
JH: Actually, we have a partner in India that reached out to us that we are establishing a relationship with. I also spend a lot of time in India, having development teams over the years. So there are additional relationships that we have. India is a little bit easier to get business going than with China. I did have development teams in China in Symantec, but it is still a little bit harder to get in.

WTH: On a personal note, do you have a family? How do you manage your time with social and work? How do you do that?
JH: How do your balance your time? Well, that is always a challenge, for anybody that is in a leadership position. You know, having been SVP’s, VP’s and CEO’s in other companies, I certainly appreciate that is always a challenge.

I do have a family: I got two kids and a lovely wife. They are getting a little bit older, which makes life a bit easier. My wife, by the way also is in a start-up organization in a company called House, which recently launched in Europe. They bring together people that are doing remodels or construction on their house with contractors and designers. They’re doing pretty well.

So we both work full-time, my typical day wouldn’t surprise you. I will get in the office pretty early, right after the kids are brought to school, depending who is doing the drop-off. Then later at night I check if they completed their home work.

It’s busy but I love it.

WTH: Thank you very much for the open talk and taking time out of your day for me, Jeff.
JH: Welcome, thank you. It was nice to meet you visually.

WTH: When I’m over in the San Francisco Area, itw would be great if we could see each other.
JH: Absolutely, keep me posted and let us know. I would love to buy you a cup of coffee.
WTH: Great, I will take you up on that.

Stay tuned on more news about CloudPhysics!

For more CEO interviews, check out my CEO series here

Predictive Analytics key to great software quality? Intro to Grip.QA

Interview with founders Kamiel Wanrooij and Jan Princen
Date: 10 October 2014
Grip.QA profile

Last week I had the opportunity to meet up with two old friends, Jan and Kamiel, for some drinks and hear about their plans with Grip.QA

In a sentence, Grip applies predictive analytics to software development to improves software quality. I have interviewed quite a few predictive analytics companies in the IT infrastructure space and I was intrigued to learn about the application of predictive analytics to software development.

Predictive Analytics for Software Development
Grip provides predictive analytics for software development organizations to improve software quality. With Grip development teams get real time insight in the state of their software development and learn how far they are off from reaching goals, such as on time delivery, and what they actions they can take to hit targets.

They differ from other software analysis tools, such as those that provide source code analysis, in two ways. Firstly, Grip uses a broader data set for its analysis. Besides product data Grip also uses data about the people that create the software, and the processes by which the software is build. Secondly, instead of after the fact reporting of deficiencies in the source code, Grip provides predictions on the quality in use and the ability of the team to deliver on time and within budget, that can be used to implement changes before problems occur.

Data Driven Software Development
In his previous role in QA process consulting Jan learned how hard it is, even for the best teams, to develop good software and how much money was involved with damage from software that did not meet expectations. “I saw many organizations struggling to deliver their software and noticed that even in large companies decisions often are not based on data, but on the gut feeling and experience of the teams. With the world increasingly dependent on software this is a major risk. The interesting thing about software development organizations is that they already generate tons of data. Up until now it was just very hard to collect and analyze this data,” says Jan.

“This is where Grip comes in”, adds Kamiel, “we harvest historic and real time data from many different aspects of the development of a software product, and run this data through our machine learning algorithms to make predictions on user satisfaction goals for that product. We then tell our users in a simple to do list what issues have most impact on reaching those goals. User of Grip can for instance use our predictions to learn what to specific actions to take improve their time to market.”

Currently in Beta
Grip has released a beta version and is now running predictions for several software development organizations. Grip provides a level of insight for several levels within a software development organization; senior executives can see portfolio risks over several products or teams, while product managers and developers can delve deeper in the specific root causes that risk product goals to tackle them before they cause real problems.

Interesting Market
The space that Grip is in, is hot. In september of this year, Semmle received a series A round investment of $8 million. The respected venture capital firm Accel Partners joined the round.

Predictive analytics applied to Software development vs IT Infrastructure
My talk with Jan and Kamiel has been wrecking my brain. Predictive analytics, applied to software development and IT Infrastructure, offers many parallel advantages. I have not yet been able to define the common ground precisely though. I predict a few follow-up posts ?

Resources and related links
Grip’s website
Website of Semmle
CloudPhysics, Predictive Analytics applied to virtual datacenter
Interview with CEO John W. Thompson of VirtualInstruments

DataGravity: Game changing data-aware storage

Interview with founder and CEO Paula Long
Date: 6 October 2014
DataGravity Profile

Paula Long founded EqualLogic, which was acquired by Dell in 2007. She was only interested to get back in business with a truly game changing idea, which she did: Data-aware storage.

paula_long640x474DataGravity won the ‘best of show’ award at VMworld 2014 in the category new technology, definitely a good start. I had the pleasure to speak with Paula Long last week and learn about DataGravity’s plans and current status.

Data-aware storage

DataGravity is a mid-market hybrid storage solution, it is sold as an appliance and as such competes with the likes of Nimble Storage, Tintri and Tegile Systems.

DataGravity sets itself apart from the competition by it’s data-awareness. Through an intuitive GUI, the IT administrator is able to see what type of data is on the array, who has access, who is reading / writing the data. User activity can be tracked and managed. This transparency offers IT departments a means to monitor and manage data usage, security and data governance.

Impact on data management and data governance

Paula was surprised at how little her customers knew about their data and how deeply this impacted data management. Not knowing what data is on the array inevitably leads to storage sprawl with no means to clean it up.

Data governance was another great concern to address. Without naming specific companies, Paula told me her customers had astonishing privacy issues. Her product offers a solution by providing insights about which files are sensitive and what users have access to it.

Privacy and data governance completely changes the game. “In my EqualLogic days, no customer ever talked about privacy. Now, there is not one customer that doesn’t talk to me about it.”

In this light, data-aware storage seem so compelling that it begs the question why this game changer took so long to arrive.

Moore’s law

Paula explains that in the EqualLogic era, she simply did not have the hardware to build a data-aware array. “We did not have the compute power we need now. We did not have the memory either, the most memory you could get into an array back then was 1GB, now we’re in the Terabytes. Thirdly, SSDs really changed the game. There was no flash technology you could use for acceleration 10 years ago.”

Completely new storage architecture

DataGravity’s engineering team had to build a completely new storage architecture to record and store the meta-data that provide context to your data. Paula adds: “We had to find a way to do that, without sacrificing performance and without costing more”

DataGravity has many features that are unusual for a storage company, such as reporting, security and analytics. This required Paula to hire an impressive engineering team; to date DataGravity employs 80 people.

First US deployments in October, Europe in 2016

DataGravity has started shipping products to US customers since last week and GA was announced today. They will be 100% channel focused and have worked intensively with channel partners in the beta-program to find their first beta sites.

Though the product now ships in the US, expansion to Europe will not be likely to happen before 2016.

Founded in Nashua, Dell’s backyard

DataGravity has its offices in Nashua, New Hampshire. “Nashua is 35 minutes away from Boston, has a great downtown area and the town is home to many interesting companies. Of course Dell is here too.”

Battle-hardened board of directors

There are three VCs behind DataGravity, Charles River Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst Partners. Paula describes her board as a battle-hardened team she can rely on: “Our board are all operational guys that have sat in my chair. When they see the movie they know when the scary stuff is coming.”

“I love it when they love our products”

When asked about her life outside the office, Paula explains that right now DataGravity is her life. She has put her heart and soul into her company and hopes to sell her products to 10’s of thousands of customers across the world.

More important than commercial succes, is the satisfaction of winning her customers hearts and building a game changing product. “If you’re not building something that is not completely game changing, it is no fun.”

I look forward to the first technical reviews of DataGravity and will stay in touch with Paula for market and tech updates. Stay tuned!

Related articles
Interview by TechRepublic
Details on the DataGravity Discovery product
On DataGravity by Wallstreet Journal
Interview with Tegile Systems CEO and Founder Rohit Khetrapal
Interview with CEO of Nimble Storage

Build your own private Amazon cloud at $1ct/GB with Cloudian

Interview with founder and CEO Michael Tso
Date: 3 October 2014
Cloudian Profile

Interview with Michael Tso, CEO of Cloudian

This wednesday morning I had the pleasure to speak with Michael Tso at breakfast in an Amsterdam city-centre hotel.
Born in mainland China, Michael was raised in Shanghai and Hongkong, finished high school in Melbourne and graduated at MIT in 1993. In his 20 years business experience he not only lead companies commercially, but also accumulated 32 patents.

He’s the CEO of Cloudian, a company I only recently became aware of.

On-premise Amazon S3 cloud

Cloudian allows you to build your own Amazon S3 compatible cloud on-premise, they have built a software stack that is compatible with any application you run on Amazon. Cloudian offer their customers either a software-only offering or a software + HW appliance that comes pre-installed.

Their current claim is that they can offer enterprises their software + hardware appliance product at $1ct per GB per year.

Though relatively unknown in the US and Europe, they have 40 large customers worldwide among which Vodafone, Nextel, NTT, SoftBank, Nifty, and Lunacloud

Search engine and Mobile telephony background

Michael has much experience in the search engine market, he was early employee for Inktomi whose search engines were behind AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft. In the pre-Google era, they ran 60% of all search traffic in the US.

In 2000 he met with Hiroshi Ohta, the inventor of the cameraphone and founder of the first photo messaging service. The service did well but Hiroshi had trouble with data spikes causing crashes. He met with Michael who built very stable search engines and together they founded Gemini Mobile in 2001.

Mobile Message storage platform DNA

Gemini Mobile built the messaging service platform behind Vodafone Live and later rolled out similar messaging platforms for other carriers. These systems processed and stored messages for carriers and were ‘Telco-proof’, very robust systems.

With their impressive client-base and conviction that the need for data-storage will continue to grow exponentially, Hiroshi and Michael decided to explore the storage space and created Cloudian.

During our talk, Michael identified three trends in storage that inspired them to build Cloudian.

Trend 1: Flash will drive data away from expensive storage arrays

Flash has taken the market by storm. Michael sees storage diverging, a high IOPS performance tier in flash and a low-cost scale-out object capacity tier on commodity hardware. He sees this trend leading to the demise of high priced, high I/O storage arrays.

Trend 2: Object storage on commodity hardware is the only answer to exploding data increase

50-60% of the worlds data is generated in the last 2 years, which means in 5 years time, 75% of the data in the world would be created between today and then. Michael:”That’s an amazing change in the storage industry, the likes of which the world has rarely seen. That’s why we are excited at this opportunity, that we see as a 10 year not 2 year opportunity.”

Object based storage makes sure that data is easy to archive and retrieve, commodity hardware keeps the cost down and allows for much faster innovation cycles. Michael explains that to keep up with all that data increase while staying cost/performance competitive, the standard 3 year innovation cycles aren’t going to cut it anymore. Cloudian’s own software+hardware appliance offering is on a 6 month cycle.

Trend 3: Free cloud storage is coming; get ready

Like free email, free enterprise cloud storage is coming. Either amazon, Google or Microsoft will be first and the rest will follow. Though not all data can be hosted in the cloud, some data can always be migrated towards it. Enterprises need to be able to leverage that free storage to stay competitive. Compatibility between private & public clouds is key for enterprises to effectively build their hybrid solution.

Cloudian has only just gotten started

Michael tells me Cloudian is founded with a 10 year horizon in mind. They spent the first two years perfecting the storage system without any effort put in marketing.

Recently they have invested in a marketing and sales force and will be expanding into Europe and the US. I expect Cloudian to do extremely well. Stay tuned!

Related articles

Platform 9’s answer to fast, Amazon like, easy to build private clouds
Alex Benik’s view on how enterprise IT benchmark against Amazon
PernixData’s CEO Poojan Kumar on capacity vs. performance
Diablo Technology’s CEO on impact of flash on storage architecture

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