Peter provides some excellent insights into open problems around which new entrepreneurs can build companies.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by having you introduce yourself as well as Instaclustr to our audience.
Peter Nichol: I’m the CEO of Instaclustr. I’ve been CEO and various other positions in the technology industry for nearly 30 years. I’m based in Silicon Valley. Instaclustr is a company that was founded in Australia in 2013 about four years ago. We focus on providing Database-as-a-Service to our customers with a specific focus on not just open source technology starting with Cassandra but also expanding to other technology offerings such as Spark, Elasticsearch, and Kafka. We take these open source technologies and manage them on behalf of our customers in the public cloud through AWS, Azure, and other cloud platforms.
Sramana Mitra: Can you talk a little bit about what’s happening in that ecosystem and what are the trends that are driving your business?
Peter Nichol: The major trends that we align with are the following. First of all as everybody knows, we’ve seen a massive movement to the cloud in the past few years as companies decide not to invest in their own data centers and move to Amazon or Microsoft. It certainly is a more flexible way of providing IT infrastructure, especially for smaller companies. They don’t have to make a massive investment in building their own infrastructure, so it’s a lot easier for smaller companies to get started. That’s one major trend.
Even industries that, five years ago, were hesitant to move to the cloud for security reasons are starting to move to the cloud as well. It’s pretty amazing given the reluctance they’ve had in previous years to do so. The other major trend is a large focus on companies wanting to use open source software so they don’t end up spending a lot of money on proprietary solutions and they don’t get locked in. They have a very strong preference for open source software.
The final trend is the trend towards companies outsourcing what is not their core competency. They don’t want to focus on every aspect of providing IT. They want to outsource as much as possible and focus on what they’re really good at, which means focusing on developing their applications and outsourcing the infrastructure aspects to companies like Instaclustr.
Sramana Mitra: What do you think is driving the aggressive adoption of open source?
Peter Nichol: A couple of things. First of all, open source technology has become very mature. Five or ten years ago, a lot of companies would not have trusted open source technology from an overall robustness perspective. Companies are seeing vibrant, well-supported open source communities that they think will survive and be healthy for a long time. It’s also the ability to use software which doesn’t lock them into a particular supplier.
I would say it’s those three things. It’s the fact that open source software is a lot more mature, the communities are vibrant and healthy, and companies can rely on this type of software for production systems without locking into a vendor which can be very expensive in the long term.