A Bright Future for StrataCloud
A Q&A with StrataCloud CEO Brian Cohen
Prior to joining StrataCloud, Cohen was HP’s strategy and operations leader for Global Accounts and America’s Enterprise group, President and CEO at SPI Dynamics, and founder and CEO of Technologic, a pioneer in firewall security appliances, later acquired by eSoft, Inc.
StrataCloud: What struck you about StrataCloud when you were considering joining the company as CEO?
Cohen: I was impressed by the company’s vision. Specifically, StrataCloud understood the trend toward Software Defined Data Centers (SDDC), and more importantly, realized that this was simply an extension of the virtualization that had occurred within the compute subset of the infrastructure market. The engineering team at StrataCloud had deep virtualization experience, from which they’d learned that centralized management is the key to successful IT operations. StrataCloud’s plan was to apply that level of centralized management to the entire data center, and to do so by viewing infrastructure as a service. It’s the breakthrough philosophical change required to enable enterprises to shift their workloads to the right infrastructure at the right time, whether it’s within their own data center or outside. That means agility and cost savings for enterprise customers.
StrataCloud: What’s most exciting about how you envision the company helping customers?
Cohen: Customers don’t want IT for the sake of IT. They want IT to meet the needs of their business. And that’s really about application software and the infrastructure necessary to support applications, whether they exist inside or outside of the organization’s data center. StrataCloud provides a vehicle for the enterprise to define and manage their infrastructure as a service. That means that applications can be deployed in a cloud-like fashion, and that creates tremendous flexibility. It creates an environment where a company can select the best hardware on which to run their systems; this may simply be the cheapest available for some applications, high availability redundant systems for other applications, or even a cloud outside of the data center. StrataCloud’s ability to define infrastructure as a service, to manage that infrastructure to ensure that it is meeting the needs of each application, and to course correct as necessary, permits the enterprise to deploy each application in an optimized manner. That creates agility to achieve competitive advantage.
StrataCloud: What’s the market opportunity and where does StrataCloud fit within the ecosystem of cloud and virtualization technologies?
Cohen: The market opportunity is enormous. The move to virtualization and cloud computing is accelerating. StrataCloud’s platform creates flexibility for IT organizations, allowing them to move workloads in an optimized fashion and provides the ongoing management and visibility to ensure that applications are set up for success. In order to create an agile environment for running applications, it’s essential that the underlying infrastructure presents itself as a set of services. Each service has defined capabilities, and each service can describe it’s ability to provide a certain level of service delivery. For example, a storage service would advertise it’s capabilities, including the ability to deliver a rate of input/output operations per second (IOPS). StrataCloud’s platform facilitates the definition of infrastructure services, facilitates the deployment of applications on suitable services, and provides monitoring and management to ensure that the service level objectives of the application are met. And this is all done at a level that supports hardware independence. By viewing hardware as infrastructure services, StrataCloud embraces the technology that is available today from various vendors and optimizes the IT environment.
StrataCloud: Is this a tough market to break into? Are CIOs and CTO’s getting too much noise about infrastructure management these days?
Cohen: Infrastructure management is critical to the success of any IT organization. CIOs today are looking for solutions that support heterogeneous hardware and software environments. They are also working diligently to provide their businesses with cloud-like capabilities, so that the infrastructure can be provisioned and modified as required to support the business. When we have the opportunity to discuss our approach with CIOs, we get immediate interest. They understand what we are doing and they’re excited about it.
StrataCloud: Which business or world leader is inspiring you right now?
Cohen: There are so many folks doing great things, it’s hard to pick any one individual. I’ll name two: Howard Schultz. The guy is amazing, and he’s done everything right by sticking with his values. I once asked Howard if Starbucks had ever needed to tell someone they should leave the store. He said, “No, we would not do that. We have created a community and that’s who we are.” Mark Andreessen. Mark is a brilliant visionary and he speaks his mind. He’s parlayed this into a very successful venture firm. And he’s always had the sense to complement his technical prowess with great operational leadership… in his case, Ben Horowitz.