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Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Sasha Gilenson, CEO of Evolven (Part 5)

Posted on Sunday, Mar 17th 2013

Sramana Mitra: You said you started your company in 2007. Given that we are in 2013, obviously this big data trend that we are in the midst of. The IT industry operates in buzzwords, and for whatever reason right now big data is a buzzword. In 2007 that was not the case at all. I imagine that you started your company with a different positioning. Or were you doing the same at that time?

Sasha Gilenson: To give you some background, before I started this company I was with another company in the space of system management that was called Mercury Interactive. In 2006 it was acquired by HP. I was in this space of IT automation/IT management for quite a long time. One of the things that I noticed during this time was the lack of granularity. In 2007 there was a lot of information in IT, but there were no tools available to leverage this information. It wasn’t called big data back then, but the idea was exactly the same – significant and detailed information that could be used for better operational management, more efficiency and more productivity. There was no tool to do that. There was no tool that was able to collect this information or underlie this information, because without analytics this information would be useless. While we didn’t position it this way in 2007, the idea was pretty much as when I started the company.

SM: So, you understood the problem, you had domain knowledge to understand the problem and you basically went and solved that problem irrespective of the big data analysis stuff?

SG: Yes.

SM: I think a lot of people today are jumping on the big data wagon trying to position their companies as big data. But if I look at your company, big data is irrelevant. You are solving a certain problem in the IT operations area. Big data or not, it is business intelligence. How did you build your company? Was this company bootstrapped, or did you raise money?

SG: We actually raised the money from venture capital firms.

SM: Who are your investors?

SG: Our investors are Pitango and Index Ventures.

SM: When you look around – five years ago you were in Mercury, and you spotted this problem and launched a company to solve it – what kind of problems do you see that perhaps you are not going to be working on because you are too busy with your core business? What kinds of open problems do you see when you look around?

SG: One of the holy grails is still unresolved in IT management – it is intelligent IT automation. You touched the points there in speaking about self-healing. But if you look today in terms of how IT operates and how IT manages itself, there are pieces of activities that are automated. Essentially this automation is just another generation of scripting of those activities that you are running as part of your operation.

One of the things we see but we didn’t touch yet is that because of the complexity of environments and processes and the dynamics of the environment, you need to have automation that is analytics driven. There is an action, there is a reaction, then there is the analysis of the reaction and a corrective action. That will ensure that indeed this holy grail, which is called no op. It is an automated system that allows to operate IT without an operations team. I think this is the ultimate efficiency and reliability of IT. Cloud technologies or cloud-based automation started to move in this direction, but it is still far away. I think this analytics based automation is still open.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Sasha Gilenson, CEO of Evolven
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