I was introduced to Paula Long the CEO of DataGravity about the same time I arrived at a16z (nearly four years ago). Every time a new storage deal was pitched to us, I would call Paula to get her thoughts. Given my own background in storage and systems software, I was blown away at Paula’s depth and knowledge in the space. Not only did she articulate every technical nuance of the project we discussed, she had an uncanny feel for what was likely to happen in the future.
Paula casually rattled off every company doing similar things, price and performance of solid-state storage, file systems, volume managers, device drivers, block interfaces, meta data, NAS, SAN, objects, and security. It was enough to make my head spin, yet she analyzed every situation with a clarity that I had never seen before. I had known Paula as the founder of EqualLogic (her prior storage company acquired by Dell for $1.4 billion in 2008), but her insight and wisdom about everything storage far exceeded that of anyone I had met. When she came to me with her own ideas for a new storage company there was no hesitation. Betting on Paula would result in something really special. MORE
Jim Barksdale in the run-up to the Netscape IPO told potential investors that you can make money in software in two ways: bundling and unbundling. Benedict Evans and Steven Sinofsky revisit that thesis in the context of a mobile app world — how Facebook for example, is unbundling itself, while at the same time Baidu is bundling everything together as fast as it can. How and why Barksdale’s thesis is very much alive and well in the mobile world. All that, and the proper use of “fissiparousness” in a sentence.
Are tablets the next big thing, a saturated market (already), dead (!), or just in a lull? The debate continues while the sales of tablets continue to outpace laptops and will soon overtake all PCs (of all form factors and OS). What is really going on is an architectural transformation — the architecture that defined the PC is being eclipsed by the mobile OS architecture. MORE
Open source software has permeated practically every nook of the software world. The biggest companies and largest-scale systems all lean heavily on open source code. Yet, with the exception of Red Hat, no one has built a great business on top of open source software. That’s because what companies should be selling isn’t necessarily the software, or even support, says a16z’s Peter Levine, but a service that leverages open source. One example of such a service is DigitalOcean, which has built a cloud environment tailored to the needs of developers. DigitalOcean CEO and cofcounder Ben Uretsky joins Levine from his New York City HQ for a discussion about open source-as-a-service, how companies of all sizes should think about leveraging open source, and whether we’ll start to see a slew of specialized clouds geared toward different verticals.
a16z’s Peter Levine goes deeper into the changing nature of the data center with Yoram Novick, CEO of Maxta, and Florian Leibert, CEO of Mesosphere. Does ARM architecture, the foundation of the chips in practically every mobile phone, have what it takes to displace X86 processors in the data center? Is the private cloud — effectively a company operating its own data center — dead, or will a hybrid public/private cloud model dominate? Given all the upheaval in the data center how do startups fit into the equation, and how are they competing today with legacy technologies and companies?