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Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Billy Bosworth, CEO of DataStax (Part 4)

Posted on Tuesday, Feb 12th 2013

Sramana Mitra: The map that is emerging in my mind is that you are doing all the big data processing on your side, whether it is Adobe building a product on top of your platform, or eBay or Netflix building certain capabilities in their transactional systems. That is how you go to the market. Is this an accurate observation?

Bill Bosworth: It is accurate. I think a nice way to talk about that, if you want to put it into a category, is to say that we are infrastructure. Big data has a whole stack of technologies that range from the raw infrastructure layer all the way to the user interaction graphical interfaces. In our world, we produce the infrastructure. We provide the transactional grid underneath that can manage the hyper-velocity at massive scale for your real-time transactional experiences.

SM: What percentage of your business is selling directly to large enterprises like Netflix or eBay to enable certain real-time functionality in their live systems vs. selling to companies like Adobe, which builds you into their products?

BB: As an infrastructure product, it tends to end up looking the same in both cases. Even in our OEM business, we are the back-end data store. Let’s look back at the past 15 to 20 years and think about something like an Oracle technology, what we used to call an OLTP system – the online transactional processing system. That world in big data, that is us. Whether we are serving up a website directly or whether we are a piece of the analysis engine under the covers, at the end of the day, we are still the infrastructure to make that happen for the real-time scale side. It doesn’t really matter what the company is, the use case ends up being the same. They need a massively scalable transactional data store, and that is what they end up using us for.

SM: The question I was asking had a slightly different point of view. I was not asking so much from an architectural point of view, but from a business point of view. Those are two different concepts.

BB: I understand. The vast majority of our business is done as a technology that is used by our customers to service their customers. Ninety-five percent is done with applications that end up servicing our customers’ customers.

SM: Are they selling products? The eBay or Netflix situation is not exactly selling software. It is still servicing their customers, but it is a technology enabling their core business whether it is retail or auctions in the case of eBay vs. a video streaming service in the case of Netflix. Whereas in the case of Adobe, that company is selling software functionality to others.

BB: But you still do it through their cloud. It is fundamentally the same if you are interacting with Netflix, because their marketing cloud is still done on their end. I think what you are asking is maybe a “shrink-wrapped”OEM: “Take our technology and embed it into their technology, package that up, sell that to somebody else who then implements that into their own.” That scenario is a small percentage of our business. This is more about applications that are built by our customers to service their customers directly but remain under control of our customers. In other words: Not shrink-wrapped and then packaged and shipped off, where the customer would then do the installation on their own. That is a much smaller percentage of our business.

SM: I think the whole software world right now is operating on a cloud basis. I think if you are in an OEM relationship, people will pay you royalties for their cloud customers.

BB: In a couple of cases, we actually have OEMs that do ship it as part of an appliance. Those are the cases where our customers embed our technology, then ship it off in the form of an appliance to their customers to then do all the management from there. Again, that is a small percentage of our business.

SM: So, mostly you enable functionality in large real-time transactional sites?

BB: That is correct. Whether the company is big or small, that is a different matter. As you know, you can have a small company that has a very big data problem.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Billy Bosworth, CEO of DataStax
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