Today, Turbonomic announced that I was joining them full time as Executive Chairman. Many of you have asked me over the last couple of months what I am up to and what I am learning. Well, I have learned a lot and this is what I am up to ...
Over the last couple of months, I have had a wonderful time adventuring and exploring with my family and friends… forging metal in our backyard with my son, rambling thru the Alaska range, the Andes and the Rockies, sharing many a roast duck, elk burgers, and inspiration with friends and ticking off a bunch of things from my bucket list. I have spent some great times helping amazing entrepreneurs and technologists scale their businesses without the demands of a day-to-day operating role.
During this exploration, I learned and re-learned a few things about myself… what were sources of joy, what were sources of energy. I love software and its ability to positively impact people’s lives and society. I love helping people build software and businesses. I love helping people grow professionally. These experiences give me energy.
I've had the privilege of doing these things all my professional life. While I am getting older by the day (drat!), my energy and passion for people, technology and customers is just as high as it was 10 years ago and there are still so, so many things that software does not do well today. There are many platforms to build, businesses to scale, and people to help grow.
I've had the good fortune to look at lots of different opportunities to apply this passion and energy, from very large to very small, from for-profit to not-for-profit, operating role to investor role. I chose this role because of its mission, where it was in its trajectory, and its people. The mission Turbonomic is pursuing is a critical problem for the IT industry that I have wrestled with for a good part of my career. The company is both a product and a platform that is scaling quickly so I can help a lot. It is a group of passionate and committed people that I love spending time with. It has a culture that is customer-and technology-centric. Frankly, it reminds me a bit of the earlier days of Microsoft.
So you might ask: what the heck is Turbonomic? Good question. Let me explain it through the lens of a customer, a technologist and then for me personally given my career experiences. If you’re interested as a customer, a partner, or as an employee, let me know.
As a customer, you will come to see it as a platform that dramatically lowers the cost and improves the quality of experience for the applications and web services you rely on to run your business. It is the product that you use to understand and optimize your infrastructure and to run your applications and web services optimally, whether they are cloud native in a public cloud or traditional applications behind your firewall. You rely on it to optimize your traditional environments. You look to it to become your hybrid cloud management platform, providing the elastic capacity, private or public . Over 1600 businesses have adopted the platform, with some of the largest and best run IT shops in the world relying on it – and lots more signing on every day.
As a technologist, you see it as a platform with an elegant architecture that effectively matches application demand with infrastructure supply in real-time, regardless of the environment, on-premises or off, cloud native or traditional, VM or container. It accomplishes this by creating a data model (abstraction) that is a semantically rich representation for introspecting and controlling the environment. There is an intelligent decision analysis engine that takes this representation and makes continuous real time decisions to enable the desired state. Finally it is automation… an orchestrated set of actions driven by the analytics engine to control any workload (current or new) on any infrastructure. It accomplishes this not through probes and agents but through APIs giving partners and customers the ability to build to it, customize and optimize it on their own as well.
These three elements come together as an autonomic software platform enabling applications to self manage, matching application demand with infrastructure supply in real-time.
I saw the customer need and technology opportunity first hand 15 years ago as a leader of Windows client and Windows server, working to provide the right platform and ecosystem of tools around the client-server architecture. We did some things well, but we made a lot of mistakes. I have had a front-row seat in this evolution as a board member of SAAS companies like Xero and as the EVP of HP’s software and enterprise hardware and services businesses, as virtual machines were broadly adopted and containers and public clouds arrived on the scene.
The Opportunity Ahead
There have been some great advances in recent years. Today’s physical infrastructure is programmatically much more controllable. VMs and containers provide useful abstraction layers, and the public cloud provides great improvements in the unit economics for business. However, the scale and complexity for customers is mind-boggling and these advances amplify it. There are tens of millions of applications and web services that enrich the lives of many of the world’s 7 billion people and that every business depends on to run. The world is a myriad of different compute, storage, bandwidth and memory configurations matched to an equally complex lineage of application and web services coupled with a wide variety of management and security tools that are rapidly expanding in number.
These software applications and web services demand an enormous amount of compute, storage, memory, bandwidth and power, and their demand is so dynamic that HUGE inefficiencies exist… both in the amount of compute, storage and bandwidth customers decide they need to have available but also in the number of people to keep it all together. The dedicated people that do this work have an impossibly hard mission and it is getting harder (and more expensive) every day.
Public clouds are, of course, helping address this, providing a step function in unit economics and in some cases performance. Within their data-centers, they gain these efficiencies through homogeneous infrastructure, carefully curated interfaces, and software teams that have built monitoring and automation for those specific platforms.
Unfortunately, the world is more complicated than “move everything to AWS or Azure tomorrow”. Most companies were not started in the last 10 years and have decades of application investment that can’t simply go cloud-native tomorrow. New tools and solutions are arriving to solve specific elements of the problem whether in the context of monitoring or automation, eventing or service management.
Until I saw Turbonomic, I had not seen a company with the potential to solve it holistically on-premise and off-premise… unifying monitoring and automation in software by algorithmically matching application demand with infrastructure supply, leveraging the advances of the market but recognizing that the world is inherently heterogeneous, not just a single flavor of hypervisor or all cloud native. The technology advances over the last 10 years enable Turbonomic to finally solve the problem – and they are complimentary and accretive to a customer’s move to the cloud.
Turbonomic’s approach is the right way to solve this problem, and the technology and architecture can support the scale and complexity of customer environments. If solved, it will enable tremendous efficiencies in the IT industry, both in lowering costs as well as improving the experiences of the applications and web services we have come to rely on to run our businesses and live our lives.
Go check out turbonomic.com and drop me an email with any questions you have. Great companies and platforms start with great people that enable partners and satisfy customers. We need more of all three. Come join me on the journey...
Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse here.