Monday, November 29, 2010

CloudBees Series A Funding

The Boston Globe broke the news this morning. CloudBees has taken a round of financing led by Matrix Partners. While not quite the reunion of the Beatles, Sacha has brought together some of the characters from the JBoss experience – David Skok, Marc Fleury. I kind of feel like Ringo – not quite as cool as John, Paul and George…

We had a number of discussions with different VC’s, and in the end decided that David had done so much to help JBoss be successful that it was the best way to go. He has a somewhat unique depth of experience from being an entrepreneur himself 5 times over. And of course his success as a VC is widely well regarded.

One of the interesting things about this investment team that matches up well with the technology team we have in place is being prepared to run a marathon. We are building for the long run.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oracle Doesn't Get Open Source

Kohsuke Kawaguchi, the creator of the Hudson Open Source project woke up Monday morning and discovered he was no longer able to access the Source Code Repository to make commits. Oracle had decided to shut it down, as they are shutting down many projects in java.net to try to move it to their own infrastructure. Not only that, but the mailing lists were shut down as well. They said not to worry, they will have it up in a week.

No notice, no transition plan, no respect for the open source community or the project creator.

Fortunately KK knows open source better than Oracle. And KK knows how to run an open source infrastructure better.

He and others in the community moved the mailing list archive and list to Google Groups and Nabble - http://hudson-labs.org/content/mailing-lists so there is better functionality and search capability than before. He moved the source code to Git - https://github.com/hudson/hudson.

He did this all in a few hours. All completely open. Oracle is still a week away from completion… But the community is up and running!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Why a PaaS? - The Hudson Use Case

It is no secret that CloudBees is building a Java Platform as a Service offering for release in 2011. But a lot of people who develop Java apps don’t really understand what that buys them, or how it is really any different than traditional middleware like JBoss or Spring. I thought our own running of Hudson as a Service on top of our pre-PaaS might be a good way to explain the differences.

We will look at three levels – 1. Plain vanilla Hudson, 2. Nectar, the version of Hudson for larger on premise sites, and 3. CloudBees DEV@Cloud
offering which includes Hudson as a Service built on our underlying PaaS. Then we will dig down to see what is happening underneath and what role the PaaS is playing in this (sorry in advance for the length of this blog).

1. Plain vanilla Hudson – on Premise. Hudson is the leading Continuous Integration server, created by our very own Kohsuke Kawaguchi (KK), and is used in over 25,000 organizations. It uses a Master-Agent architecture that makes it simple to deploy Hudson jobs across many servers or Virtual Machines. Larger deployments will have dozens of servers dedicated to the task of running Hudson. Users must buy and deploy and maintain these servers. Hudson administrators must then manage how builds are deployed to agents. Talk with a large Hudson deployment, and they spend significant resources on this. They also have the constant problem of either not having enough servers or having too many sit idle. And if they have a large server farm they can use as a utility, they lose performance by having to reload entire workspaces.2. Nectar – on premise. KK had formed a company, InfraDNA which recently combined with CloudBees, to help customers with larger deployments thru the ICHCI subscription offering. We have renamed this offering to Nectar – (http://nectar.cloudbees.com) and KK has added easy VMWare scalability. The basic idea is it helps you allocate a pool of pre-configured VM's and to easily start, stop and restart them for the purpose of scaling the agents in a cl
ean environment. You can read more about Hudson - VMWare Scaling.
3. CloudBees Hudson as a Service. While Nectar offers far easier scaling than Hudson, there is still the need to manage servers, VMWare, configure Nectar/Hudson and the VM’s. And you still may have too much or too little capacity. The CloudBees DEV@Cloud offering of Hudson as a Service eliminates all of that overhead. New agents spin up and down as needed, and there is optimized workspace management to cache data and make agent spin-up ultra fast. There is no need to buy additional servers. No need to manage VM’s. No need to administer upgrades of Hudson or plug-ins. The savings can be quite dramatic in terms of hardware, software, maintenance, and people cost.

So, now you know about Hudson (and related plug-ins like Maven, Ant, SVN, Git, etc.) and how it can be scaled and deployed in these three environments. That background was necessary to take a look at what role the PaaS plays in scaling in a Cloud deployment.
The CloudBees PaaS is still in development, but major parts are done:
  • Scale DUO – Down, Up and Out. Basically starting, stopping and allocating virtual machines.
  • Basic Multitenanting. The ability to have multiple customer share a service. Lots of security involved here.
  • Metering & Billing. This is how we “buy” machines from Amazon for an hour, and then bill multitenant use by the minute.
  • Caching. We do some neat tricks to save Hudson workspace data to optimize the Scale DUO of agents.
  • Management. This is our back-end management system to assure maximum uptime and availability.
These pieces made it simple for us to make a
(
Hudson as a Service. But they are things that most any application would want. Lower cost, unlimited scaling (Down, Up and Out), no administrative and operations overhead. Far different than traditional middleware and IT operations.

Sacha has created a chart that shows vividly what we are trying to do – basically cut out all the overhead of IT.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Hudson Open Source Community

Several of my old friends have asked me about the CloudBees strategy with bringing KK, the creator and primary contributor to the Hudson open source community, on board. I figured I would write it down, since this is important stuff…
It will be a similar strategy to what we did at JBoss. There are two key parts:
  1. Respect for the community, respect for the project leader. We want the community to thrive and grow. We actually coined the term “Professional Open Source” in recognition of the significance of the people who had the foresight to create a successful open source project and build it from nothing.
  2. Provide a business strategy that would drive the economics to keep investing in the project. We wanted to find a way to invest more in the project. We look for virtuous cycles.

While at JBoss, Sacha, Marc and I worked closely to bring the leaders of a number of open source projects on board. The list includes Bela Ban of JGroups, Gavin King of Hibernate, Mark Little of Arjuna (whose technology we moved to open source), Bob McWhirter and Mark Proctor of Drools, Tom Baeyens of JBPM, and several others. In each case, the person stayed with us (and now Red Hat) for at least 5 years (all except Tom are still at Red Hat in fact). In each case, we allowed the project creator more time to work on their project because they no longer had to worry about generating revenue from their project or consulting. In each case, we added people to the project. In each case, we left the project very open and recruited more companies to join in the project. In each case, the communities grew and included competitors (for example it could be argued that Hibernate was a key reason for Spring’s early growth and success).

We were also able to grow an entire middleware stack that was much more valuable and important to customers. And more people were interested in the individual projects because we were the “right size”. No longer just a single person behind a project, but not such a big company that you never know where the project will wind up in the corporate political priorities.

So with that history as context, we are obviously on a similar path with KK’s leadership of the Hudson open source project. KK will no longer need to spend cycles on the business end of running InfraDNA. CloudBees already had people working on Hudson, and we will be adding more. Much of this time and work will be for the open source community. And there is a virtuous cycle on the business side where the company can earn money with the Nectar subscription (which also includes support for the pure Hudson open source project) as well as the Cloud Services we offer which provide Hudson/Nectar features running in the Cloud. And certainly Hudson provides a natural "on-ramp" to the PaaS we will be introducing in 2011.

Every person at CloudBees is an “open source” person. We welcome KK and will continue to enable him to lead this important project. With the project having tens of thousands of sites using Hudson, over 350 third party integrations provided by the community and nearly 300 individual contributors, KK has obviously done a few things right. And we’d be pretty dumb to not let him keep being successful…

As Sacha would say – Onward!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Notes from the Goldman Cloud Conference

I spent 6 hours yesterday at the Goldman Cloud conference. I figured I would write up the highlights...

It was a full room of investors and a few industry insiders. The panelists were all mid-cap to large-cap firms.

What was interesting is some of the missing companies. No IBM or HP, which I don't mind since they take such a portfolio view of the world and seem to not be on the cutting edge. But the big missing company was Amazon. It was funny to hear companies like Rackspace diss them as a niche vendor.

The one data point I heard was Cloud Computing will grow to $44B (10% of IT spending) in 2013, up from $17B (5%) today. SaaS is big driver. CIOs accept it.

One of the banks that was there talked about how they are doing private and public cloud now and saving about 20%.

Brian Byun of VMWare was on two panels. I found him to be the brightest start int he room. Very direct and clear on their vision and obviously executing well. He had a numebr of statements in his first panel I found interesting. To paraphrase: "Today, IaaS is more important than PaaS since so many existing apps and technology want direct access and control at the hardware, network and OS level. However, new apps will want a PaaS to give them lower cost and more agility. Customers will want a PaaS that is open, hence Azure and Google are bad and VMWare is good." That last sentence I am really paraphrasing, and of course he said it in a smoother way than I can - but I definitely got his meaning. He also made a good point that a lot of cloud adoption is from the bottom up.

Goldman's CIO talked about how their internal Compute Cloud and Desktop Cloud are fully implemented. They are now working on a general purpose internal Cloud and next year will expect 50% of new apps will be deployed on that.

Hitachi's CIO said that there is less concern about security relative to using the public cloud or SaaS services. These issues are being addressed and it is becoming much more of a normal operating process for IT departments.

Finally at 2:15, the sessions I had been waiting for was on - "Cloud Platforms - Building On-Ramps to the Cloud". VMWare, Red Hat, Citrix, Rackspace and Savvis. Not only was the topic interesting, Brian Byun of VMWare and Paul Cormier of Red Hat really got into it. So often these panels are so boring and politically correct. Best line was when Paul called VMWare "borderline delusional" and Brian fired back something like we have customers paying us $3B this year, so we can't be all that delusional. Anyway, some of the highlights:

VMWare says that 30-40% of their business will be from external cloud providers in 3-5 years. I think this is a decent proxy for the growth of the public cloud. They have 3,000 service providers - so while there will be some big ones, there will also be industry specialization (like a cloud for financial service firms).

RHT says that customers want to have their apps run on private and public clouds. He was really driving at the fact that many apps are written to the OS and to middleware. Or said more bluntly, since everyone uses RHEL in house, why don't more service providers run RHEL for their Cloud offering? He was blunt in saying that apps don't run on hypervisors...

On the Private Cloud. VMWare says it is kind of like training wheels for companies as they eventually will migrate more and more toward the public cloud. Citrix went so far as to say that most private clouds are a rehash of bad data center practices.

VMWare and RHT also got into a battle about who is more open and the importance of that. I think the key things that came out of that discussion was a need for PaaS to use open source that would be standards based and give customers an easy path away from a vendor. There are at least 12 "standards" emerging at the IaaS level. I found Paul's statement that standards move too slowly, and that is why they came out with the open source Delta Cloud project 3 years ago pretty ironic...

Not sure how much I got out of the day, although Goldman provided a very good sandwich in the box lunch. And it is clear from the early SRO crowd and many of the statements from the vendors and CIO's that the Cloud is the next big thing...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hudson - the perfect on ramp to the Cloud

CloudBees announced today that it has joined forces with InfraDNA and Kohsuke Kawaguchi (KK). I've been trying to convince KK to join CloudBees since last spring. So I am happy.

There are two reasons why I'm happy. First, KK is a great guy. Smart, driven in an easy going way, and someone who can create something out of nothing. The second reason is that CloudBees believes Hudson and Continuous Integration are the core of making the development - QA - build - release cycle more agile. Witness the rapid adoption of Hudson across Java, Ruby, PHP and .Net shops. Also witness the number of plug-ins (over 350) of the open source Hudson community.

We felt we wanted to help make this community successful, and to provide innovation that allows this community to move toward the Cloud - offering them the opportunity of even further agility and cost savings.

CloudBees is now offering a new product - Nectar. Nectar is a subscription offering for Hudson users. It provides:
  • Support for Nectar and Hudson
  • Enhanced plugins - like VMWare scalability
  • Bundled hours of CloudBees DEV@Cloud service for expanding beyond internal resources
The CloudBees strategy is quite simple. We want to help customers get applications from developers to users as fast and cost effectively as possible. We now offer Hudson and other services from on-premise to the Cloud. In 2011 we will add the next step - a full Platform as a Service so that Java applications can "click and deploy" - essentially eliminating layers of IT overhead and cost.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Salesforce Chatter - a Road-map for Modern Apps

A lot of people scoffed at Salesforce Chatter when it came out. Of course with the vision we had back at Ringside that all apps should become social, and now my involvement with eXo, I have been a big believer in this for a long time.

I was recently reminded of this when we were doing a sales review at eXo last week, and I heard how Chatter was actually being used by our sales and marketing teams. It turns out it was a natural adoption for them. And it results in more and better information being shared within the team.

For example, when a sales rep updates info on a customer, others can see the update in their activity stream. The cross pollination of what is working and not is great. But also others can lend a hand if they happen to have better knowledge on something. The sales team says it is helping them and our prospects and customers.

Then I happened to get an email from Salesforce that highlighted what customers were getting out of it:
  • Collaborate privately and securely
  • Improve teamwork by 27%
  • Follow people, information, and groups
  • Share files and status updates
  • Increase customer responsiveness by 9%
eXo is providing similar levels of functionality for extending enterprise applications. Collaboration, Social, Content, Knowledge solutions for any Java environment. And all cloud ready... So follow the Salesforce road-map for your own environment!