Lights-out operations of data centers has long been a vision pursued by many IT organizations. In the last 15 years, companies such as Opsware (acquired by Hewlett-Packard), Opalis (acquired by Microsoft) and DynamicOps (acquired by VMware) have led the first two waves of automation that delivered increasing levels of productivity to data center operations teams, from bare-metal servers to virtualized environments. They eventually hit a limit in productivity gain, and are held back by the “wall of confusion” that separated developers and operators. Developers valued speed of innovation and pushed for frequent releases, while operators valued uptime and preferred stability.
The spread of agile development practices has led to much closer collaboration between developers and operators, giving rise to the DevOps movement that has taken over web-scale companies, leading to release cycles that are measured in minutes rather than days or weeks. Keeping web services up and running despite underlying hardware failures requires close collaboration between developers and operators; operators are often embedded in development teams to help develop fault tolerant applications. Furthermore, operators have often become developers, writing automation code to manage massively distributed environments.
However, mainstream enterprises still lag far behind in adopting DevOps practices, and the productivity gap is staggering. In some cases, the server-to-operator ratio of the best-run web-scale companies could be as much as 1000x higher than that of legacy data center operations. Even when accounting for the more heterogenous nature of enterprise operations, it is not unreasonable to expect a 10-100x productivity gain by adopting DevOps; enough to make any CIO to take notice. Unfortunately, there is a major talent gap in the industry that is not going to close any time soon. Full stack engineers who can both code and also have a deep understanding of IT operations are rare gems.
Evan Powell and Dmitri Zimine saw these challenges first-hand from their customers, and decided to found StackStorm to bring the benefits of DevOps operations to the masses, leading the third wave of operations automation to make Self-Driving Data Centers a reality. Evan was the founding CEO of Nexenta, one of the first software-defined storage companies. He was also the founding CEO of performance management software company Clarus, which was acquired by Riverbed. Dmitri was the engineering director and chief architect at Opalis, which was acquired by Microsoft, and became its System Center Orchestrator. He also led development efforts on VMware vSphere client, in addition to other engineering leadership roles at VMware. Since founding StackStorm, they have quickly attracted some of the top DevOps engineers in Silicon Valley to join the company, and have surrounded themselves with advisors who are technical operations leaders at companies such as eBay/PayPal, GitHub and Workday.
At XSeed, we invest in category-leading, high-growth companies that are built by entrepreneurs who are setting the world on fire. We believe that the Self-Driving Data Center is a massive opportunity, and the market is ready for the right solution. We are excited to back Evan and Dmitri, who are proven company and product builders, to pursue and capture this opportunity. We are proud to be the lead investor in StackStorm, and welcome Evan, Dmitri, and the rest of the StackStorm team to the XSeed family.