Sramana Mitra: At the same time, these open source technologies are fairly complex and require external expertise for them to be able to manage them. You are one of the specialized vendors whom they’re reaching out to to get that expertise in?
Peter Nichol: I think that’s right. The companies that base their business on open source are providing a lot of expertise around open source technology. For example in our case, the technology we deal with is a database technology. One example is Cassandra which is a NoSQL database technology. It’s used for storing terabytes, or even petabytes of data, by companies who are writing applications that may have thousands or even millions of users like Facebook.
They distribute that across multiple regions running in Amazon, for example. Managing that is very complex. We take away from the customer the burden of managing the technology, but we don’t charge the customer license fees. It’s a different model. They’re not buying software from us. They’re still using open source software for which they don’t have to pay license fees, but we take away the operational burden of managing that software. That’s the big difference.
Sramana Mitra: Talk a little bit about the use cases in which they’re using these kind of technologies in your orbit.
Peter Nichol: There are a few use cases that we focus on. Obviously, social media is a big one. In fact, a lot of these NoSQL technologies were invented by companies like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo! Anybody who’s writing an application that involves hundreds of thousands of users and massive amounts of data is going to use a NoSQL database like Cassandra and is going to approach a company like us for help if they need expertise in managing that. Another use case is IoT where we see a lot of traditional companies.
There are companies that are involved in providing transportation. They use a lot of sensor data to identify the exact location of a particular vehicle minute by minute. They will feed that information back into a central system and then do analytics on that to help run their business in a more efficient way. This is happening with pretty much every device that you can think of – automobiles, refrigerators, home devices. They are all being connected to the Internet for collecting data which provides intelligence to the business or to the customer.
That obviously involves a massive amount of data. That data has to be managed in the cloud. What companies are looking for when they talk about managing their data is they want their application and their system to be up and running 99.99% of the time. They cannot tolerate any outages because an outage means lack of revenue or customer dissatisfaction. It’s all about providing a robust database system which will never go down. That’s basically the value proposition.