This discussion explores how cloud entrepreneurs can identify open problems and opportunities that warrant building a new business.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us about yourself as well as introduce our audience to Scalr.
Sebastian Stadil: I’m the founder of many things, among which is the Silicon Valley Cloud Computing Group, which is a cloud computing user group that has a little over 8,000 members. We meet every month to discuss technology and industry challenges. I’m also the founder of Scalr, which offers an open source enterprise cloud management platform to over 700 customers. Customers include General Electric, Expedia, Samsung, Oracle, Sony, and many others. An enterprise cloud management platform is a set of tools that allows enterprises to effectively control, govern, and drive virtuality in the organization using cloud. I also sit on the Google Cloud Advisory Board, which basically is a board that Google put together to gather feedback from power users as well as from thought leaders in the cloud. Finally, I’m a lecturer at Carnegie-Mellon University.
Sramana Mitra: Since you have so many platforms from which you are looking at the cloud, give us a summary of the major trends that you are observing.
Sebastian Stadil: If you were to wind the clock back about 10 years and you were working as a software developer at a large company like General Electric and you were asked for a machine to run some test that needed continuous integration, you’d have to file a ticket. You’d have to file a ticket in some sort of ticket management software and you’d have to specify in that ticket what server you want and why you want it. The problem with that is that ticket would routinely take six to eight weeks to be processed. By the time you actually get a response, you are already too much down the road and may have found alternatives already. It’s a very slow and cumbersome process.
Fast forward a couple of years and now we’re in the middle of the cloud. Now the developer wants to go to the cloud. He gets the server in two to three minutes. The cycle time to get a new machine has decreased from many weeks to just a few minutes. When we transitioned from that manual process to that automated self-service process, we also lost the review process. Ten years ago when that developer would file a ticket, the person on the other side would review the request for legitimacy. If you’re in a self-service world, you lose that review process. When you’re in a large organization and you have a lot of risks to mitigate, your developers are now able to provision a lot of resources because there’s no review. There’s no accountability. Scalr is a platform to be able to restore the visibility, oversights, and the governance over the use of resources.