OpenStack Podcast #24: Stu Miniman
You might recognize Stu Miniman as the host of theCube. Others know him as a Senior Analyst at Wikibon. But the tables turned in the 24th episode of OSPod!
In this episode, get the inside skinny on:
- Stu’s roots in tech, including sales, engineering, product management, and strategy
- OpenStack reality versus hype per the latest Wikibon survey data
- Startup culture versus enterprise culture, and the need to innovate around old processes
- How Docker really is changing everything
- Career transformation and staying relevant as companies head for the cloud
For a full transcript of the interview, click read more below.
Jeff Dickey: All right, hey everyone. I’m Jeff Dickey from Redapt.
Niki Acosta: I’m Niki Acosta from Cisco and man the tables have turned today. We have an amazing guest with us. I’m so excited to not be the person being interviewed by Stu but instead serving the role as interviewer with Stu as our guest today. Stu, super stoked to have you, introduce yourself.
Stu Miniman: Great. Thanks, Niki and Jeff. I appreciate you guys having me. I’m excited to share with the community. Stu Miniman, I am an analyst with Wikibon and as Niki was pointing out I’m also a co-host of theCUBE, some have called us the ESPN of tech. We go out to all the enterprise IT shows help direct the signal from noise, have a lot of fun with it. Got to interview you last year at the OpenStack summit with Scott Sanchez and yeah we love talking tech and getting down with all the tech athletes and podcasters sort of our brothers in this effort. I’ve got a lot of friends that are podcasters, I’ve had many of them on theCUBE and always appreciate when I can come and share with your community too.
Niki Acosta: Totally and it’s kind of neat to have you on not only because you’ve been to the OpenStack shows but you go to all kinds of industry shows and you talk to the veritable who’s who of the tech industry. I’m sure you got some interesting perspectives and I can’t wait to dive into that today. Typically we always start by asking how you got involved into tech to begin with.
Stu Miniman: All right, I’m the traditional geek at heart. Started out in computers at a pretty early age. My mom I got Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 3 when I was in … Gosh, I think it was in first or second grade and it came with that book like, “How to teach yourself basic?” I’m like, “This is awesome.” Taught myself basic and learned logo and started playing around with it. For the holidays one year I got an Apple 2C which I felt like it was like the best gift ever, I mean come on, no internet, I had …
To tell you how old it is and date myself a little, I know sometime to say we shouldn’t date ourselves. My parents didn’t know as much about computer and they were like, “The guy at the store said we had to get this for you but I don’t know what it is,” and it was the mouse with the one button on it and it only worked with the paint program and nothing else. I was pretty stoked… spent tons of hours on the computer in through high school. I’d always be the one that they just stuck in the corner and let me play with the computer because I was way ahead with what the class was doing on that.
I studied engineering as an undergrad but here’s the thing I say and Niki I was listening to you on the geek whisperers and they kind of did a deep job on my whole history and career, and I realized I didn’t want to be a programmer because I didn’t want to spend all my life sitting behind the computer. Irony of course as we all sit behind our computers and our phones all the time now.
I actually went … I’ve worked in the tech industry since I got out of college. I worked at a company APC power conversation when I first got out. They used to only hire engineers, started everybody in basic customer support, learn the product and then move into other groups and I did some tech support and some inside sales. I went to Lucent right after they spun out from AT&T in ’96 and I was actually on sales side, Niki, you’re going to have that in common out of sales background.
I’m not supposed to talk about. We’re geeks and it’s tech. I handled voice, video and data and what I loved at that point is I was really helping companies in Rhode Island in Southern Massachusetts connect to the internet. Because while I was helping them with their voicemail in their phones I was also getting them their ISDN or partial T1 or whatever else they needed from the network standpoint.
Usually wiring them up not only for voice but for data. I got out of that in 2000 and when I left the company I said, “Cisco is going to kill you guys,” and they’re like, “What are you talking about? We don’t compete against Cisco,” and I was like, “Yeah, there’s this thing called Voice Over IP in the networking and it’s going to decimate what you did,” and of course the Lucent Groups now Avaya, Cisco has been doing a pretty good job in that space.
In 2000 I was finishing up my MBA and I got a job at EMC. I was started as a product manager in connectivity groups so it was really an early days of fiber channel handling both local connectivity as well as some distance connectivity. I did fiber channel, I did iSCSI strategy inside the company. A little bit of product management of getting, I spent six years in engineering where one of my claims to fame is, in 2002 I was handling Linux and adapters and all these weird connectivity options that I got handed from my executives. There’s this weird little company out of Palo Alto. We don’t what to do with them, not sure if we even want to talk to them but, “Can you please setup some relationship and see what we should do with them?” Of course a year and a half later EMC bought VMware in one of the best acquisitions in IT history. I was one of the first handful of people working with them, honored to have worked with Diane Greene, Ed [Brennon 00:05:11].
A lot of that early team. I was at the ground level for virtualization. Fast forward to 2007 I joined the CTO office at EMC and was working on what we call Next Generation Virtual Data Center. That turned into really the whole Cloud discussion. I got on social media around that same time. I was part of the old Clouderati and in 2010 became an analyst at Wikibon where I focus on convergence and networking and Cloud.
I do research on the analyst side and theCUBE is actually, we have an overarching umbrella that includes Wikibon, SiliconAngle, and theCUBE. So, as well as doing the research, I’m co-host for theCUBE and I wear a bunch of different hats. That’s a lot of mouth hole but quick summary of my career date and just have a lot of fun with tech world.
Niki Acosta: What do you love doing the most? You’ve been in engineering, you’ve been in product and you’ve been in sales which I can imagine you’re a pretty effective sales person just because you have the technical chops for sure without a doubt. What do you love the most?
Stu Miniman: I really love what social media really got to help me do is I love connecting with people and I love sharing ideas. Not to name drop I was talking to Steve Herrod though a year after he left VMware and he said, “You were the CTO there. What are you enjoying doing and what’s it like being like on the VC side,” and he’s like, “I love talking to these like early companies, helping them just, you know, figure out. You know, we’ve got one of these three directions where do we start first, how do we grow.”
That’s one of the things I really love to do on my current job is I get to … I’ve talked to companies when it’s two idea … Two guys and an idea or two women and an idea and give them some advice, talk to them about what we’re seeing in the marketplace. I love talking to practitioners about what they’re doing. One of the things where Wikibon was really first started out is we want IT practitioners to really share with their peers and help share that information. Because those early people that start new stuff… that’s where you’re going to find the best content.
Jeff Dickey: Stu, can you talk a little bit more about Wikibon and kind of what makes you guys different?
Stu Miniman: Yeah, happy to Jeff. Thanks. Wikibon, we are an open source research company and very focused on the IT practitioners. As I mentioned sharing with the peers. It was founded eight years ago. Really a group of independent consultants, most of them from the traditional industry analyst world. Just to clarify some people they hear analyst and they think Wall Street and financial analyst. We’re the people that focus on the technology side.
Wikibon was really founded on, “Hey, this whole crowd sourcing and social media and wikis sounded like a really cool idea.” When they started they said, “Well, we’ll spend a couple hundred bucks, throw up a website, it’s a Wiki, hence our name. Name of the company Wikibon, Wiki is fast, Bon is good, we get fast and good data.” Anybody contribute, we have a community of about 20,000 people now that either participated in our calls, been part of the research that we’ve done.
At least originally everything that we did we’d share for free. Everyone around the globe if they want to learn basics on storage or networking or convergence or Cloud or big data’s an area that we spend a lot of time on in the early days which is only about four – five years ago. Really helping define the market, we do some forecasts. Today we’re a little bit of hybrid model still the vast majority over 90% of our content is free for anybody to get.
Some of our underwriters want more detailed content so there’s some survey data some forecast data where we’ll give the high level stuff away. I do social chats on it, we talk about it in videos but if you want all the niggly detail is you guys working for companies to understand. Customer wants to hear, “Hey, it’s going to be $50 billion in five years that’s something you should understand.”
The vendors want to know, “Okay, well, what countries and what verticals and where should we focus first because that’s where we need to put resources on.” That content which takes more resources to create goes behind the firewall only for our clients.
Niki Acosta: I’m assuming you’ve done probably a significant amount of research on OpenStack. Any data you can share with us around OpenStack?
Stu Miniman: Yeah, thanks Niki. Yeah, I did a survey really focusing on infrastructure as a service and I was mostly focused on the public Cloud discussion but I was asked about a couple of questions about OpenStack. To be honest I was actually a little bit disappointed because I had done—asked the exact same question two years ago and just your general mindset, “What do you know about OpenStack? Where are you? Are you thinking about it? Are you testing it? Are you using it?”
The results were all identical for the beginning of this year as they were in 2013 which was I think it was between 15 and 18% said “Love it, either using it or starting to test it” about 50 – 55% of the people said, “We think OpenStack’s have great idea but we are not going to touch it until it’s more mature.” Then the rest of the market was like, “Yeah, I’m not sure.” Either I don’t know or whether I’m not ready for it.
Niki Acosta: What size companies were you surveying when you asked these questions?
Stu Miniman: It was anything from 25 employees up to a hundred thousand employees. It was a bit of a range, we stayed away from the real small handful of people but … We didn’t find much difference in the results from an OpenStack standpoint whether it was kind of a small, medium or large.
Niki Acosta: It’s not surprising. I spend a ton of time talking and educating customers of all sizes about OpenStack and coming from Rackspace. It’s interesting now to be having the same exact conversations that I was having three years ago. I mean, there’s a lot of people who are just now starting to look at infrastructure as a service and Cloud especially with in larger enterprises. I mean, there’s always packets of groups that seem a little bit more ahead of the curve but it’s surprising to me that’s it not further ahead than where it is today.
Stu Miniman: Yeah, it’s funny. Those of us that Podcast, and we’re active on Twitter, sometimes were in a little bit of a bubble. We said “Heck–we were having this PaaS argument four years ago,” and it kind of went away for a little bit and it’s coming back. OpenStack is only a little over four years old. Some of us have been having this discussion since day one. I remember the first articles that we wrote about OpenStack was, “The Big Enemy is Amazon.”
OpenStack is a Hail Mary by all of these hardware companies to remain relevant while Cloud takes over the world. Then you talk to some of the vendors and there’s a shift it’s like, “Well maybe it’s actually geared at the people that are virtualizing and building out some orchestration on top of that. Maybe they want to get away from VMware’s licensing model.” That maturation is taking a couple of years but I think I spent six years in engineering, and I tell you if it wasn’t something that mattered for my meetings this week, the deliverables I have this month or maybe my quarterly objectives, I wasn’t thinking about it. I didn’t have time to read a ton of blogs, I didn’t have time to look at the new technology that’s going to be ready in a year or two. OpenStack–don’t get me wrong–has come huge way in four years but still relatively young project.
I think back, I said when I started EMC in 2000 I was the product manager for Linux and that was before Red Hat had launched enterprise Linux. We were just working down at the core level to try to get some stability for enterprise customers and Linux took years and years and years of work to be mainstream. VMware came on like a rocket ship in relatively short period of time for enterprise but the enterprise takes a long time to evaluate and jump on these, so in my viewpoint it’s always about setting proper expectations. You don’t expect something to go from an idea to 50% market share in a couple of years.
Niki Acosta: Agreed. I think a lot of people are still trying to adapt to this new model of pushing out code fast and not being afraid to fail and adapting your business around. What I think is probably going to include failure at some point. Stuff breaks, stuff fails, it’s an interesting mind shift to be okay with that and architect around that.
Stu Miniman: Yeah. No, you bring up a great point, Niki. IT most projects how many months or quarters is it going to take for me to roll this out and it better work. One of the critiques I have for OpenStack is, “How long does it take me to put that solution together? How fast can I get it up and running?” There’s services that I can just go up and use. You want to talk simplicity, Amazon is really simple, swipe your credit card, I can be up and running real fast. Docker owns, delivers simplicity for certain environments now, there’s certain various entry.
I need to understand what I’m getting into but OpenStack today is not what I would call simple. Overall it can help a lot and I’ve seen a lot of maturation especially in the last year as to really the growth of the solutions that are out there, a better understanding of what people are getting when they’re using solutions that leverage OpenStack. One of the things we always argue about of course is, “How do we define OpenStack?”
Because it’s not a product, it’s not a single set, it’s not a single software download, it’s a bunch of pieces that help build a solution and that’s a little harder to wrap my head around sometimes.
Niki Acosta: What’s the next new hotness? Obviously infrastructure as a service arguably is going to make it’s way into enterprises and a few years from now I think everyone will have it and use it. What is the next focus area for a lot of the folks that you’ve talked to?
Stu Miniman: My disclaimer, I’m an infrastructure guy by background. The thing I worry about my career is the goal of what we’re doing with things like OpenStack, with things like Docker is you want to make infrastructure irrelevant. You want to make it so easy to use and understand. I’ve spent a bunch of my time looking at what the hyperscale guys are doing. What’s Facebook doing, what’s Amazon building, what are those OEM’s out of Korea building and how is that just disrupting the entire vendor landscape?
Infrastructures [inaudible 00:15:49] is to really to support those applications. There are very few companies that build their business because of infrastructure; they build their business to deliver those applications and infrastructure of course is that enabler on that. The application side is where there’s a huge hop is. I don’t claim to be a devops guy but boy is there some amazing stuff going on in that space.
From an infrastructure stand point and enable it of application, I mean Docker is the hottest thing I think I’ve ever seen in my career. Where that has come in the last 18 to 24 months is just phenomenal and has … It’s still mostly misunderstood in the marketplace, but wow it just has huge potential to create huge disruptions out there which is an overused term but also really helped shake things up in a good way.
Because what I hate seeing as analyst and even before I was an analyst is most IT organizations spend way too much money on what would really be…what we call at Wikibon undifferentiated heavy lifting or wasted activity around fixing things that break and turning all the geek knobs to make a bespoke application infrastructure work just a little bit better.
That just go away. I could be able to focus on my application and get the resources that I need. Add some automation to be able to help and just to be able to focus on what my business needs not on the infrastructure that enables it.
Niki Acosta: I had Cloud Foundry talking about how … And maybe they have some statistics they’ve been sharing but how it’s the fastest growing open source project ever and … What do you think of the PaaS space? Is it too early for PaaS? Is Docker going to divert attention away from PaaS because it’s potentially a little bit more agnostic? Where do you see that going?
Stu Miniman: Yeah, first of all I’d agree. It is really early still in the PaaS space. While we’ve been talking about it for a few years and I give kudos to Cloud founder. They’ve got a great team, they’ve got solid feedback from customers that are using, building a good ecosystem. I really like a lot of what they’ve done with really the organization and how the open source solution is managed. You’ve got companies like IBM with Bluemix that are putting a lot of their strategy behind leveraging Cloud foundry.
But yes, I think there’s huge potential for Docker disrupt/slow down/interfere with some of what Pivotal is doing specifically on the pivotal side and they’re Cloud foundry in general. If you look from the EMC Federation, I did a video recently with Dave Vellante the co-founder of Wikibon and we look at the EMC Federation and said, “VMware is such a huge piece of what they’re doing and where they’re going and Docker could disrupt that.”
While both VMware and Pivotal have embraced Docker both of them are also very publicly embracing Rocket and what CoreOS is doing. I’m saying it still early days and there’s room for more than one solution out there but everything I see from momentum, the ecosystem, all the partnerships that Docker is doing that is the company that is going to bring Linux containers to the masses.
I think back to the early days of VMware. They didn’t invent virtualization but they’re the ones that really made it mainstream and they’re killing with it too. We’ll see whether or not Docker can make the same revenue opportunities as it but it’s … hugely exciting just to watch these potentially, radically ripple effect changes through the IT stack in a relatively short period of time.
It used to take something, the idea that you wait five years before getting off the ground. Now, we’re talking about an open source project that can really drive some change in a year or two. Open source is a huge enabler of that change agent.
Niki Acosta: Open source is interesting because there’s a lot of people in the OpenStack community, me being one of them when I was at Rackspace that went out and told the world, “Hey, you don’t to be locked into a particular vendor,” right? Now, we’re seeing the big vendors taking open source technologies and turning that into products and packing it in various types of consumption models. Do customers really care about lock-in, you think?
Stu Miniman: There’s a, I forget who does it but there’s a big survey on open source that’s done every year and last year I went to the unveiling of it in Boston and Red Hat was there, a bunch of other companies were involved, and they said the number one reason to choose open source wasn’t the openness of the lock in as a matter of fact I think it was number four or five on the list. Things like security, things like the agility and speed of new features coming in.
Kind of a shared responsibility for what’s going on is a huge piece of it. One of the things … Look at what Facebook is doing with Open Compute and a lot of people looking at it sideways saying, “I don’t understand, is Facebook getting into the infrastructure business?” We look at it and say, “Facebook buys so much infrastructure and they can either go the Amazon route,” which is Amazon actually… they have two engineers that do nothing but work on the power supplies of their servers.
I call it the hyper optimized environment. Amazon’s infrastructure needs to go in one data center: theirs. It doesn’t have to worry about going from this temperature to that temperature data rates because it could be anywhere of what we know. They can go for one specific environment for one specific application and build it at massive scale. Facebook says, “Well, we don’t want to go the Amazon route and have to own all of that development. Wouldn’t it be better if the community can learn from what we did and help build on it and then in the future I shouldn’t need to put as much resources on it.”
It’s kind of a shared development and together we can all do better. I go to innovation conferences usually about once a year and every company knows we have smart people but there’s a lot more smart people outside your company than inside your companies. That kind of communal innovation can really help drive a lot and that was one of the reasons I joined Wikibon is to be part of that type of wave. Because we believe that together we can all accomplish a lot more and still make money–it isn’t a bad thing.
Niki Acosta: Jeff, I’ve been hogging the mic. I do have more questions about cultures and opinions and differences between startups and enterprise and how vastly different they operate but I want to give you an opportunity to ask a different question if you want to first. He doesn’t, okay.
Jeff Dickey: Sorry.
Niki Acosta: You’re on mute. That was directed at you, Jeff.
Jeff Dickey: I broke up. I’m sorry. I missed it.
Niki Acosta: That’s all right. I’ll ask my question and then you ask a question because I like hogging the mic. Going from Rackspace then to Metacloud then now being acquired into Cisco I definitely see the big divide in terms of mostly around culture but definitely around technology decisions that are made. Obviously when you are in a startup there’s different concerns when you were a publicly traded company.
In terms of how startups are consuming IT and how that’s different from enterprises do you think that that gap will lessen over time or do you think that enterprises and startups are always going to operate in completely different mode and look at maybe … Maybe enterprises will be less risk averse? They’re going to keep being risk averse?
Stu Miniman: Niki, that’s a great question. Actually I got to interview Michael Dell, at Dell World last year. They were talking about how much change they would bring to the company because they’re not private. I asked them I said, “One of the challenges we’ve got is, hey, 70 or 80,000 employees.” You don’t flip and switch overnight and say, “Hey, you don’t have to worry about Wall Street anymore. Let’s change our processes we’re now the world’s largest startup.”
That’s a nice talking point and it’s good to rally around and if there’s plenty of evil around Wall Street that makes us think about the next 90 days and not about the long term liability of the products, the customer, my employees in the planet. I don’t think it changes overnight and systematically there’s a very different way that you do everything if you have five people in the room versus if you’re five people inside a hundred thousand person company or even a thousand person company.
From an IT standpoint, you talked to any of the people that are funding small companies and they all brag about how they don’t have any infrastructure and they do everything in the public cloud. Because if I need to be up and running this month I don’t have time to build out a data center and get all my equipment and frame it up. It’s so much easier to get off the ground that way.
Cloud is not a winner takes all solution and there’s lots of different products out there and lots of different needs. Rackspace does well in their markets and it’s been great to see to their stock rallying over the last couple of weeks. Cisco you guys are doing a lot of different pieces. Jeff and I were got to chat for a little bit, we have a solid fire event. They’re a startup company that came with a very specific focus at the beginning and have grown from there and they’re having great results with OpenStack.
Actually the top thing that I came out of their meeting is I think it was 37% of their revenue was around OpenStack which was like, “Wow.” We’re not just talking about OpenStack we’re deploying OpenStack and customers are using it that’s really exciting. I want to make sure I answer your question, Niki, because kind of a small versus large is a big multi positive piece.
From IT standpoint absolutely it’s got to be different, it’s what … If you’re a startup you don’t have all that legacy stuff. One of the biggest things we’ve been saying for the last couple of years is as a CIO you want to be real careful what you sign up for that is going to lock you into something. My CTO co-founder Dave wrote an article and he said, “Don’t build another data center if you’re an enterprise customer, because if you build a data center that’s 25 to 35 years that you are going to be owning that.”
Unless you are one of a very small number of companies you’re not good at power, you’re not good at space, you’re not good cooling, you’re not good any of these things. Somebody else can do it so much better and you can consume it at a much cheaper price and that’s just the base level. We call Crawford actually just announced a new company at the OCP event a week or so ago called Vapor IO and they’re building this hyper dense rack that’s built for … it could sit it in anybody’s data center but it would great for somebody’s mega data center.
There’s so much innovation happening, everything from the physical layer all the way up through the application stack that you don’t want to lock yourself in. The biggest tragedies I saw with VMware which did huge great things to get better utilization out of …the infrastructure I had is it really allowed people to stick with their legacy applications. Because I could just keep it running on the same operating system and the same code base for an extra five or ten years because it’s in a VM and I don’t need to worry about it anymore.
It’s this old processes I want to build for a more modern world and the modern applications are where you’re going to get a lot more agility, get much more speed in business. I hope I answered your question at least a bit. There’s a couple other pieces around small versus large, I’d love to come back to later.
Jeff Dickey: Stu, you’re obviously talking to a lot of people and I want to get your take on the marketing around OpenStack and what you’re perception on that. I’ve been thinking a lot lately it seems like there’s a greater divide than ever between the CIOs and the engineers themselves and there’s been such great marketing around OpenStack but still it’s very complex, fickle, hard to scale infrastructure. Is that … Are you still seeing … Is that message being kind of spread like are you hearing that from CIOs that are, “I want to go to OpenStack because it’s just everyone’s doing it,” or, “It’s just the next step.” Do they have concerns about it?
Stu Miniman: Yeah, a good question. What I would say is the good news is for OpenStack and everybody involved is, OpenStack has won that marketing work so that when I’m thinking about what kind of Cloud solutions I’m going to consume. Let’s put aside say Amazon AWS in your drawer for a second but if I’m looking to build something on-prem or consume a service from one of my traditional vendors. One the things they’re asking is, “Are you OpenStack?” or, “How do I do OpenStack?” because that’s the solution I should go with is basically what they’ve been told but it goes back to the old management by magazine. My C level suite got a magazine and they said, “Virtualization is hot, are you guys doing that?” “Great. Okay, I’m doing it.” I’ve got my Dilbert mug here. Unfortunately when its get boiled down to the “OpenStack is good and you guys should be doing it” there’s a lot of choices out there, there’s tons of distributions, there’s things that are kind of OpenStack, use all OpenStack, fully OpenStack.
One of the things I’ve really liked to see from OpenStack and the foundation more is a little bit better clarity so that I know what I’m getting when I buy something. I know it’s something you’ve talked to some of your previous guests about but I actually give kudos to the Cloud Foundry people because there are many of them are the same and we all swim in similar circles especially in the open source community.
I feel like OpenStack should have done as a year or two ago to really say, “Okay, here’s maybe it’s not a fully certified but a levels of how integrated it is. How up with, what pieces it has or some way that you can at least have shared terminology. Actually as an analyst one of the greatest things that we can usually do for the user is every vendor out there has their own terminology.
Did vendor A, B and C if you’re trying to compare apples to apples you don’t even know if we’re all talking about fruits here. Sometimes we’re talking apples and apple pies, sometimes we’re talking about zucchinis and apples. It’s tough to put those together. Absolutely I’d say plenty of people I’ve talked to in the survey data that I shared is that there is a perception out there that OpenStack is a little bit tough.
Especially most people that if they look at OpenStack two years ago versus where it is today there’s a huge delta. We know that the enterprise takes awhile to update their perception.
Niki Acosta: I was not one of those people out there in the world telling people that OpenStack was ready on the Cactus release. I’m just going to throw that out there. One of the things that we talked about before the show is this debate between simplicity and automation, simplicity versus automation. Where do you see that debate headed?
Stu Miniman: Yeah, Nick Weaver had a really good discussion where I think it was started on Twitter and it’s going into blogs and everything. There’s automation, there’s simplicity and it’s like, “Do I need to script it to be able to make it better? Do I need to put some orchestration layer on there that can just automatically take care of everything? Or is it built simply from the ground up?”
On the infrastructure standpoint you talk about things like a scale out approach. For me “scale out” is you should be able to … Five seconds explain to me how I add. Basically plug in the power, plug in the network and if it takes care of everything else for me this is nice and simple. As opposed to Christopher MacGowan was like, “Here’s the book of 372 pages and you need to follow each of these steps.”
When I lived in the storage world they used to have, “Is this easy enough so that the fourth grader or the CEO of the company could come set this up in a couple of minutes?” Some of that is because it’s simple but a lot of it is it’s wizard-driven and we make it a little bit easier and you don’t have to make too many choices. It depends on what we’re talking about for the solution.
Ideally we want to start with something simple and not to sound anti-virtualization but virtualization by its very nature adds a layer of extraction and underneath it doesn’t fix what’s broken. What we need is infrastructure needs to be a solid foundation, that’s scalable, that’s really easy to setup and manage and I want to push the intelligence up the stack further. Again some of those arguments talking about kind of what the hyper scale guys do versus what the enterprise does.
If I’m Amazon or Facebook I can have 20,000 servers managed by one person because really I’m not managing the servers. I just build the application to take care of everything and as servers die somebody turns them off eventually and when enough of them are gone they just throw the whole rack and switch over. It’s a very different way to think about managing things.
For me the biggest change I saw coming from enterprise mindset to thinking about this scalable, really distributed systems is where it’s at is in the enterprise I want it to be hardened, I want to make sure it works, it never needs to be down. What the hyper scale guys learned first and what people involved in distributed systems really understand is hardware will always fail and software will eventually work is a maxim I’ve heard.
It’s a great pithy line but I want to build it into the software to be able to handle all of those failures. That’s where we need to move to but one of the biggest challenges is the shifts from the old applications that were built for that specific infrastructure to the news one. When we design databases 20 and 30 years ago or even probably 10 years ago you know that there was a disc response time underneath that and therefore you would setup the queues in the way everything gets handled to understand that bottleneck.
If I build a new infrastructure boy something is going to fall down. As a networking guy there’s always a bottleneck in the system so we just need to understand where they are and what changes need to happen.
Niki Acosta: I can’t agree with you more. I think there’s one more thing that I want to ask you about because it’s something that I think a lot of people don’t really talk about or discuss. You talk about shifting from old models to new models and I’ve been in rooms many, many times where you have your infrastructure guys. I can sense that they’re worried about automating themselves out of a job.
What happens … Where are all the people who have been dealing with traditional infrastructure. If you automate that, if it moves into a software. What happens to all those people? Where do they go? How do they maintain any value in their current roles and positions?
Stu Miniman: All right, Niki, you’re going to touch the third rail I guess. Absolutely that is the huge question and I’ve worked with a lot of startups that was like, “Wait, we’re going to completely disrupt this market.” The group that manages and is the administrator for this, we can’t talk to them because it’s going to take them from 10 people to two people. Look, we always need people that can understand how things work.
When we talk in the storage world and some of these changes happen we said, “Look if your job is creating LANs and doing things like LAN masking you better do a little bit of changing.” On the networking side if you’re setting up VLANs and manually working about port changes, this change is going to happen. There is going to be shift, I’m actually … I’m excited to work, we’re doing a show with MIT in a couple of weeks talking about the future jobs.
God, if you know Eric [Benson 00:37:47] and Annie MacCathy talk about “What do robots, what do automation mean?” Because I’m worried, I’ve got two kids and I see how what change have happened in my career and I’m like, “Where are the jobs going to be?” Back then years ago it’s like, “It’s all going to be the service industry,” and now it’s like, “Well, automation and robots might take a lot of those service jobs.”
Absolutely there’s going to be a shift, is really where it needs to be, it’s not about laying off your whole workforce and saving money because you’re still going to need people in a lot of environments but some of those people might be able to focus on the application side. Some of those people might have other roles in your company, some of them might need to be retrained and might end up in another company so that there’s a change that will need to ripple through.
Nothing ever truly goes away, people still buy a lot of mainframes out there and heck we can run, Linux and Docker on top of the latest mainframe that’s out there. There’s some people that are going to need train up and try new things, some people that are going to shift to different ones. Definitely it is so dynamic out there, I mean to be honest I’m kind of surprised I’m still in my job at this company after … I’m coming up on five years, everybody I know has changed job twice in the five years that I’ve been here, not everybody.
Almost everybody changes jobs pretty regularly in the IT field these days. If you’ve got administrator in your role there’s a lot of challenges… Heck, we’re debating a lot the analyst world is what is the role of the CIO going forward. Are they the chief data officer, how did they handle the marketing person versus the CTO person? The C suite is going through a lot of changes too. The speed of change is only increasing.
Niki Acosta: It’s such an interesting debate. You’re not going to take out someone who used to work at Blockbuster and expect them to be able to go to Netflix and work for Netflix, I mean you’re just not. Obviously there are jobs that shift but I always wonder how people are going to transform their careers at the rate at which the tech industry is moving. It’s just mind boggling. I’ve been riding this OpenStack wave for awhile and I’m like, “Okay, OpenStack Summits are not as exciting as they used to be. It’s moving into different things. What do I need to focus on to make sure that I’m relevant in five years?”
That’s a scary thought. I do think however, especially when it comes to decisions makers and the way that people are making decisions, that I think most people at this point are tuned out to traditional marketing and people are now looking to be influenced or they are being influenced via social, via personal connection. It’s really still coming back to people at the end of the day that are going to influence your decision, right?
Stu Miniman: Yeah.
Niki Acosta: I think there’s still a role there somewhere.
Stu Miniman: Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny I was … When I was in engineering I did a lot of operational work and what I love is connecting people and connecting ideas. When the social wave came out, I’m like, “This is either going to put me out of a job or it might do great things for my job.” Hopped in, started a little bit Facebook and jumped on this Twitter thing and pretty early days and was like …
I don’t know, I don’t know any of these people and where is it going to go but I have to say last year Twitter is actually been a little bit echoey for me. It feels like some of the same discussions just happening and it’s not as new but there’s not anything that replaces it yet. For me heck we’re going to the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver. I’m super excited first of all it’s in Vancouver which is a pretty awesome location to have it and there’s such a good community in OpenStack.
It’s really one of the best shows that I went to last year just from the people I could interact with. There’s very few industry shows where you get really good people and a lot of mix of new ideas and activities going on there. I’m excited for it.
Niki Acosta: There’s always this very split dichotomy of OpenStack, you’ve got your suits and then you’ve got developers. To bring all those folks together it’s just strange to me. You go to certain conferences and you expect the folks are going to show up, Gartner Conference for example. You got to put on the skirt and put on the suit jacket and looked very polished. Then you go to OpenStack and it’s like just a complete mix of people.
I think it was like … I won’t mention who it was but a keynote speaker from a very large company delivered a keynote and I read a Twitter comment that said, “I’ve never seen anyone looks so uncomfortable in jeans before.” Which is a little bit of jab but there’s a very much a come as you are no matter what side of the … If you’re on the business side or if you’re on the technical side kind of that come as you are sort of attitude probably in OpenStack community.
Stu Miniman: Niki, I’m an East Coast guy and when I showed up in Atlanta for the first day I wasn’t wearing jeans. I didn’t wear a tie but when I’m on video it’s usually we want to look like Sports Center, like CNBC, like those kinds of shows. Suit, pressed shirt, tie sometimes if it’s an event but by the end of the show I was in jeans and I wasn’t wearing … A t-shirt but you told me I should be dressed up like I was on theCUBE, I appreciate the tips to get my blah blah Cloud shirt in.
It’s exciting but I mean Niki you bring up a really good point. There is the big companies have come in, the money is starting to come in, customers are starting to buy OpenStack, so when that happens you’re going to have more of the suits come in and there’s naturally a shift. Look, the tech people need to fight and make sure that they’ve got a strong voice into what’s going on and keep true to the technology.
It’s okay that there’s money, it’s small companies get bought that that can work out really well in a lot of ways. If I can actually circle back, a controversial point is, does … Can the big companies innovate or only the small companies innovate? Overall it’s the small companies that create the big innovations. People inside big companies can be innovative and they can do cool things but the machine of the big corporation is usually going to clamp down.
When I worked at pretty large company there’s a group of five of us that created a project that made hundreds of millions of dollars for the company but boy it was tough. We had executive air cover, we have to be told to ignore almost all of the processes in place. For the first two years it was a startup inside of the big company. After it started making a lot of money it just got rolled into the rest of the company. It was no longer cool in human interesting.
It’s possible. I’ve heard about the spin-ins that Cisco has gone and they’ve created some great things by getting them off to the side is. How can you have the space and if you’ve bought up a couple of times is that ability to have risk out there and be able to fail. Because you’re going to try things, you need to adjust, pivot a little bit, try a bunch of different things and you’ll see what fails. One of the things I really like at my company here is we’re bringing on more people but we’re still trying lots of little things.
It’s let’s try something and if doesn’t work after a couple of months you shoot it in the head real quick and move on. Think of the pets versus cattle, you want to let all of those ideas sprout out there and decide which ones to go with later. Don’t worry too much about the ones that didn’t go and it’s tough.
Niki Acosta: I definitely see sort of startup culture in many cases spilling into enterprises. I got a call last week from a rep, I’m going to be headed to New York next week and he said, “Hey Niki, I’m meeting up with all these companies and they specifically ask for a speaker who isn’t wearing a suit and I thought of you. Can you come to New York?” and I’m like, “Wow. That’s so interesting, you know, like to see the names on this,” “Okay, cool.” I’m thinking like, “Okay, like, what do I wear to this thing if I’m not wearing a suit.”
I can’t necessarily, I don’t know, maybe I’ll maybe figure out some geeky sheik path. I think the whole developer culture is moving its way in the enterprise too. From the decision that you make from the decision that you make from saying like, “No, I will not follow your process because it’s going to inhibit my ability to do my job faster and better.” All the way up to even what what people are not … What’s now considered business appropriate attire.
I think people are kind of less concerned with that than they used to be which is great for me because I have dreadlocks and tattoos. It’s interesting to see that culture now kind of filtering its way into the enterprise. I’m trying to figure out why that is, culturally it’s fascinating.
Stu Miniman: Yeah, there’s shifts, and some of it is generational and a piece of it is for some companies is also the OpenStack, the open source, ethos is getting in. We talked about that, that survey that I had seen the Uber state of open source for the year and they said … I’m trying to think they said it was about 50% of enterprises actually are or will in the next 12 to 24 months contribute to open source.
Even big banks are interesting in open source. In the networking world I’ve been to somebody open network and user groups and it’s the big Wall Street banks. The ones that are pushing it that say, “We want choice. We want a software market place. We want to be able to contribute to what’s being built, how it’s built, how was it put together.” If you’ve got people inside the organization that are contributing to open source that’s going to trickle into your culture which is fascinating to see.
Because companies, the traditional organization chart is over a hundred years old and in many ways it does to be changed. Let’s say you got to be careful how you change it, it’s not that you get rid of all titles and have everybody work on whatever they want because if you do that you end up with Enron and they created a lot of horrible problems. The thing I’m looking into is some of the business model and what’s going on with innovation.
Niki Acosta: Totally.
Stu Miniman: Change is needed but you want to be careful about this. When I came in started here at this company and it was like, “What do you mean we don’t have checklist and processes when we’re doing some of this stuff?” It’s a small group, you’re all pulled with the same direction and deliver great stuff and you don’t worry about this. After a couple of years it’s … As you’re scaling and growing you better have some checklist and processes in place.
Otherwise, to use the healthcare analogy you’re going to end up cutting the wrong arm off one of these times when you’re going in for surgery. There’s always that bounce.
Niki Acosta: It’s bouncing now and like we’re talking about I think the willingness to … Are be okay with failure and talk about baking man, that’s an industry that’s completely changed. I was really, really harassing Wells Fargo about mobile check deposits because seems like everyone had it except for Wells Fargo and I didn’t want to change banks and I’m like, “Guys, I don’t want to have to drive to an ATM to deposit a check or walk into a bank.”
It’s interesting to see the innovation coming out of banks because that is an old industry but they’re trying to be competitive, they’re trying to deliver more value to their customers and make it easier to do business with them. Seems like a lot of these banks are headed in the right direction in that regard.
Stu Miniman: Yeah, from our group that focuses on big data. One of the biggest … Biggest opportunities we see is data is really at the center of so much of what is what’s going on. From a banking stand point of course we’d be worried about our information being shared or some of the privacy and security concerns. Overall, infrastructure supports the application and the application helps us look at the data and there’s huge value that many companies can now deliver from the data.
There’s a ton of exciting new startups that have been coming out recently. A bunch more coming that are in stealth. Whole new industries popping up, many of them leveraging OpenStack, and being part of that either as a consumer or as part of it but yeah it’s pretty exciting times.
Niki Acosta: I feel just very fortunate that … That I didn’t have a cellphone in high school and got one kind of in early college, but it didn’t have video on it because I couldn’t imagine the video that would be out there me that would probably prevent me for getting a job undoubtedly.
Stu Miniman: Absolutely, yeah. One of the things I got on social media kind of early is I know what trouble I got into computers pre-internet so I wanted to make sure I understood enough of it so by the time my kids are on social media I at least have a little bit of know how to try to prevent them from making some big mistakes.
Niki Acosta: Scary world they’re living in. Kids these days. We have about 5-ish minutes left. Jeff, you look like you’ve had a question and I’ve done that thing again where I hog the mic. Go for it.
Jeff Dickey: No, you guys … I’m just having a great time listening to you guys. I keep wanting to chime in but then I’m like, “I can’t talk about that,” different points where working with the banks are doing and stuff. I will say I think just go back to the bank point. It’s extremely exciting to see that banks adapt Open Compute and OpenStack… that they’re looking at those together and it’s like, “Wow,” that’s a big change from what they’ve been doing. It’s exciting because that’s going to … That means there’s a future in the enterprise sooner than we think.
Stu Miniman: It’s funny. I did an info graphic about a year or so ago talking about how the really big enterprises and especially the banks have hyper scale envy. They look at what Facebook is doing, they look at what Amazon is doing and they’re like, “We’ve got huge IT staff and tens of thousands of servers why don’t we get the same economies of scale, why don’t we get things at low margins, why doesn’t our stuff work that way?”
Of course it’s very different kind of the application portfolio that they have and a company that was built a year or two ago versus a hundred years ago is going to have so much more legacy on top of it. Yeah, it’s fascinating times and we will see how all this shakes out.
Niki Acosta: Do you think that … Do you foresee kind of a time where … Kind of your legacy applications, you’ll have no choice but to transform them and if so how long away, how far away are we from that?
Stu Miniman: Unfortunately in IT things tend to be additive. There’s certain stuff that you’re going to keep running and you’re not going to change. We did a Amazon show I think I went two years ago for the first time, it’s the second year of the show. We asked Andy Jassy, who’s in charge of AWS, and we’re like, “Okay, how much of Amazon.com runs on AWS.” His answer was, “Most of it,” the joke we all had is in the back dark corner somewhere is a traditional historic array running those financial applications and they’re never going to touch that.
Because that’s just what Amazon.com’s been running since the early days of when they were .com and they’ll up rev it and add storage as needed or anything. There’s certain pieces that they’re not going to touch. Looking at things like OpenStack it’s the greenfield applications are really where you’ve got the easiest way to go. Because today it’s not easy to take what I have and just move it over.
It’s if I can start with a new project, if I’m building a new environment, if I’m going with a partner that can help build out some new applications. There’s huge opportunity there because taking the old stuff and trying to move it or that application mobility is challenging. It is going to take some time and you don’t want to have to change your applications and infrastructure and my operations all at the same time. How many change can I have? Put you can put a tiger team in place, somebody that’s done it, but it’s a challenge.
There’s a bunch of barriers to entry in there. That’s something that I think is OpenStack look to accelerate the ecosystem around it is there’s a huge opportunity for services and the companies that can deliver something that can become almost cookie cutter and help deploy it is going to make this go a lot faster.
Niki Acosta: If and when I show up on theCUBE at OpenStack. We are almost out of time here. Remind me to talk about the single pane of glass. Let’s talk about that because we don’t have time to do it today but I think there’s … We interviewed Sirish Raghuram from Platform9 and they’re creating a single pane of glass for VMware hypervisors and KVM hypervisors and OpenStack. I want to know how much value you think that will bring? Again, we don’t have time to talk about it today.
Stu Miniman: Yeah, we’ll talk about then but you remember [crosstalk 00:56:05]. It’s spelled P-A-I-N.
Niki Acosta: That is great. That is to be on a t-shirt.
Stu Miniman: I think Steven Fostgate probably has the rights for printing up any vendor ware on on something like that. It’s one that we’ve used in the community.
Niki Acosta: Man, that’s great. Yeah, the whole like, “Oh, we can take your catalog and deploy your apps that used to point VMware to an OpenStack target,” and I’m like, “Oh god, that’s not going to work.”
Stu Miniman: All right Niki, are you going to ask me the final question that you ask every guest?
Niki Acosta: I lost my headphones, what was that?
Stu Miniman: Are you going to ask me the final question that you ask every guest?
Niki Acosta: Yes, yes. Jeff, you do the honors.
Jeff Dickey: Thank you. Who are two people you’d like to hear on the podcast?
Stu Miniman: I’d love to see some practitioners on the program if you guys can do that. Walmart, awesome, cool, I hope we get to hear a lot more from them in Vancouver. I’d love to understand… do they really have like over 3,000 engineers together working on this because that scares me a little bit if that was needed to be able to build that out. There’s so many little cases out there that have been good stories.
Tapjoy has been coming up a lot lately. I saw a company single FX just came out that’s one of their customers. Basho is also another one that uses them, so I’d love to hear their stories about how OpenStack helps them. I’ll say for theCUBE, I’m working on the schedule. I’d love any practitioners that are out there that want to tell their story. Please reach out to me and we can see if we can get you on the program. Because those people that want to share those early stories it’s good for you, it’s good for the industry and we’d love to share those stories.
Niki Acosta: Awesome.
Jeff Dickey: Yup, and we’ll try it. Walmart they’ve been a little bit difficult…they just don’t like talking. Especially that group that’s doing the OpenStack stuff. We’ll try and we’ll get some more folks on … The folks I’ve asked you think it’s crushed by marketing to be able to show.
Stu Miniman: Trust me I got lots of history. There are many more people that are willing to talk to us off camera and off the record than they are on camera on the record. Hey, we’ve got a huge roster of people that don’t tell your marketing people this but it’s been great for their visibility, it helped them get promotions or maybe even got new jobs out of it. Our alums have done great things. Look at Niki has gone ever since she was on our program.
Niki Acosta: Man Stu, what a great talk. I’m, man, so great. I can’t wait to see you in Vancouver and chat with you more not to mention you are off the record. You’re good fun to hangout and have drinks with as well. Just an awesome human being, definitely a gem in the rough so to speak. Always a pleasure to hangout with you and chat with you. Thank you so much for taking the time to throw on a t-shirt and flannel and wear your blah blah blah Cloud shirt and hangout with us today.
Stu Miniman: All right, thank you so much for having me Jeff and Niki. It’s been a blast.
Niki Acosta: Jeff, who do we have next week?
Jeff Dickey: Next week is Ryan Floyd from Storm Ventures.
Niki Acosta: That should be a good one too. Exciting.
Stu Miniman: Yeah, good guy. Find out where all the money in OpenStack is going.
Niki Acosta: Totally.
Jeff Dickey: Yeah.
Niki Acosta: Yeah. That’s it for today’s show and next week should be a good one. If you are a lover of this show let us know who you’d like to see, what topics you want covered. We’re always open to suggestions both Jeff and I and I guess that’s it for today. We’ll see you all next week.
Jeff Dickey: Goodbye everyone.
Niki Acosta: Bye.