Thursday, February 25, 2010

CA Acquires 3Tera – It’s About Time!

I started tracking 3Tera in August 2005. They made some amazing progress with their AppLogic release in the next 12 months and things were really starting to look good, so I wrote my first article about them in September 2006. A couple weeks later, ReadWriteWeb called them out as well.

Time passed.

3Tera was early.

The market was maturing.

Keep pounding away at it…

Meanwhile, Cassatt Corporation, the company I co-founded in April 2003 with Bill Coleman and Dave McAlister, sold its technology assets and people to Computer Associates in June 2009. The Cassatt team was all over scalable “cloud” computing architectures and the management thereof. CA’s acquisition, combined with some of their other aggressive moves in this space (the similar acquisitions of NetQoS, Oblicore, Orchestria, Platinum Technology, and Netreon) made it clear that CA saw some white-space for them to expand into cloud management in a big way.

Next, I reported how Bill Coleman joined up with 3Tera as an advisor in August 2009.

The plot thickens.

The result: In February 2010, CA acquires 3Tera.

I love it when the story comes together like this.
Best of luck to all my friends at Cassatt, 3Tera, and CA. I expect to see some great things out of this team.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Grand Central Dispatch now Open For Business

I recently gushed about Apple's new Grand Central Dispatch code at the heart of the recent Snow Leopard Mac OS X release. Good news. Apple has decided to Open Source the code under an Apache license.

Drew McCormack over at MacResearch speculates as to why in Grand Central Now Open to All | MacResearch:
There could be one last reason why Apple has taken this step: they want to use Grand Central to push the adoption of other technologies, in particular, blocks. Blocks are an extension to C which form the basis of Grand Central Dispatch. Having your operating system based on a non-standard language is not a good position to be in, and Apple would surely like to see blocks incorporated into the C language. By offering Grand Central to the broader programming community, they may be hoping it will catch on, and make the argument for incorporating blocks in the C standard that much stronger.

I agree.

The next step is for this code to be picked up in a Linux Distribution. Having simple concurrent programming, integrated tightly with C code (and C code derivatives) would be a boon to many industries looking to exploit multicore.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Petabytes on a budget: Cheap Storage

The folks at Backblaze provided a very nice, and detailed look into how they create cheap, reliable storage to host their customer's data. Via Petabytes on a budget: How to build cheap cloud storage | Backblaze Blog:
At Backblaze, we provide unlimited storage to our customers for only $5 per month, so we had to figure out how to store hundreds of petabytes of customer data in a reliable, scalable way—and keep our costs low. After looking at several overpriced commercial solutions, we decided to build our own custom Backblaze Storage Pods: 67 terabyte 4U servers for $7,867.

Nicely architected 4U storage pods. It's very unusual for a company to explain, in such detail, how they built a core layer of their system. I love that they included the 3D design of the enclosure, as well as a detailed Bill Of Materials list. All of which was really only possible because of the tremendous amount of work tha went into Linux and the Linux storage subsystems.

Let's hear it for Open Source software (and Open Source design)!

2009 OpenSourceWorld: Presentation Picks

Didn't make it to the 2009 OpenSource World, Next Generation Data Center and CloudWorld conference? No worries. Enjoy the presentations right here, from your recliner: OpenSourceWorld: Presentations .

Be sure to check out the following (in no particular order):


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Islands of serialization in a sea of concurrency

John Siracusa does an awesome job writing his review of mac OS X Snow Leopard for As Technica: Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: the Ars Technica review - Ars Technica.

Grand Central Dispatch is far and away the coolest technology that I've seen created in a long time for super-simple concurrent programming that fits your existing programming style/model.

If they were handing out Oscars for programming, the developers of GCD and the "blocks" extension to the language would get one. Heck, if they were handing out Nobel Prizes for programming, this would get one!



Makes me happy I'm an AAPL shareholder.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bill Coleman Joins 3tera Advisory Board

I think this move surprised a number of people, since Bill recently wrapped up Cassatt Corproation, getting the technology and people acquired by Computer Associates.

However, I was not surprised at all. The announcement, via 3tera Welcomes Bill Coleman:
You may or may not have seen the recent press realease.  Bill Coleman, IT/Silicon Valley luminary, Founder and CEO of BEA Systems, has joined 3Tera’s Advisory Board.

Yes, this alone is a great testimonial to what we have accomplished in our field.  Getting dignitaries such as Bill does not come easy.  But here’s the best part - this has a lot more than just marquee value and I doubt that Bill would have joined us if that was the case.  Bill, especially since his most recent stint as Founder and CEO of Cassatt Systems, is an extremely knowledgeable visionary in the area of utility and Cloud Computing; and, data center automation.

So, Bill will be extremely valuable, reviewing and tweaking both our business plans and technology as we forge ahead to maintain our lead at enabling Cloud Computing in enterprises and service providers.

Bill and I, both Founders of Cassatt, clearly share the same good taste in great technology. I've been following 3tera since 2005 and continue to be impressed with their accomplishments each year. I initially wrote about them on this blog back in 2006 in the article Amazon EC2 Killer Apps – Meet 3Tera.

I wish Bill and 3tera the best of luck as they move forward chipping away at the cloud. Bill will be an excellent addition to the 3tera Advisory Board (really, he should be on their Board of Directors, but nobody asked me...).

Friday, August 21, 2009

YACCI - Yet Another Cloud Computing Intro

From Liming Liu of, check out: Cloud Computing Introduction. Nicely done, and is an indication of how fast this market is changing. Finally.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Databases in the Cloud

Ken North writes a great article in Dr. Dobb's Journal on Databases in the Cloud. Check out Dr. Dobb's | Databases in the Cloud: Elysian Fields or Briar Patch? | August 3, 2009:
The cloud is an elastic computing and data storage engine, a virtual network of servers, storage devices, and other computing resources. It's a major milestone in on-demand or utility computing, the evolutionary progeny of computer timesharing, high-performance networks and grid computing. The computer timesharing industry that emerged four decades ago pioneered the model for on-demand computing and pay-per-use resource sharing of storage and applications. More recently Ian Foster and Carl Kesselman advanced the concept of the grid to make large-scale computing networks accessible via a service model. Like computer timesharing and the grid, cloud computing often requires persistent storage so open source projects and commercial companies have responded with data store and database solutions.

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Doubling Down - Good Money After Bad

This post by Fred Wilson certainly resonated with me, and caused me to reflect about my time with Sevin Rosen Funds. Via Doubling Down:
Like most VCs, I am guilty of sticking with our investments too long and putting too much money into the ones that are not working. It's an occupational hazard. As I've gotten more experience in the venture business, I've gotten better at this part of the business, but it is still a challenge for me and most VCs I know.

Bliss McCrum, one of the two VCs who taught me the venture business early in my career always said, "if you are going to put more money into a company that is not working, make sure to change the strategy, team, or cost structure, or all three." It's good advice. You will not get a different result doing the same thing.

During my time at Sevin Rosen Funds, I saw quite a few presentations made by existing portfolio companies looking to raise a Series C or Series D round of investment. As the "new guy", I didn't have the history of what transpired to get the company to this point -- I was just evaluating the business as it stood at that moment.

More often than not, my advice was that the company was not a good candidate for follow-on investment. Invariably, the company did receive their follow-on investment.

It wasn't until I fully understood a number of things about VC that this all started to make sense to me: The way that VC funds are managed, how VCs are compensated, how money is allocated for follow-on rounds in the fund, the timing intricacies of when a new fund can be raised, the details hidden within LP agreements on how investments can be made when multiple funds are being managed by the VC entity, and the psychology that comes into play once your investment in a company is a public one (on the Portfolio page of your firm's web site) and you have become emotionally attached after a series of dozens or hundreds of board and strategy sessions.

Needless to say, my comments to SRF must have been heard as "your baby is ugly". And, let's face it, nobody wants to hear that their investment did not turn out to be a good one. With money allocated in a previous fund, and the LP agreement of the current fund prohibiting new investments in prior funds, say, some VCs may in fact be conditioned to double down more often than you would expect.

I completely agree with Fred Wilson and Bliss McCrum. Doubling down only makes sense when you change something core to the business. All too often, the VCs will do too little, or nothing at all, when doubling down. Such a strategy amounts to nothing more than hoping for some external change ("the market will finally start to take off; the hockey stick is just about to shoot up!") to make your investment pay off. That's bad business. That's throwing good money after bad. And the LPs will not like that.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Zappos Founders Do Well In Sale To Amazon

Last week, Amazon acquired Zappos for roughly $847M. The founders did very well. Via What Everyone Made from the Zappos Sale.
It’s much harder to see how much Hsieh and Lin are making, because no one knows how much of the proceeds of the Venture Frogs shares goes to their pockets or to their LPs. But they clearly did well. Hsieh made at least $214 million; Lin made at least $18 million, with the Venture Frogs shares netting an additional $163 million. If that’s a forced sale, the two are crying all the way to the bank.

Zappos was all about execution. When a founding team executes this well, they certainly deserve the spoils. Many congratulations to them and all the Zappos employees for building a really great company.

Investor Sequoia returned about $160M on their $35M investment. That's a nice cash-on-cash return for them. Congratulations to them for supporting their investment through multiple rounds and helping to build a really great company.

Amazon gets a great asset.

Customers win in the end.

I love seeing these kinds of results for entrepreneurs, investors, employees, and smart acquirers. Congrats to all!

Google Voice iPhone App Denied?

Looks like the Google Voice iPhone application has been denied from the Apple iPhone App Store. Via Apple Is Growing Rotten To The Core: Official Google Voice App Blocked From App Store:
Earlier today we learned that Apple had begun to pull all Google Voice-enabled applications from the App Store, citing the fact that they “duplicate features that come with the iPhone”. Now comes even worse news: we’ve learned that Apple has blocked Google’s official Google Voice application itself from the App Store. In other words, Google Voice — one of the best things to happen to telephony services in a very long time — will have no presence at all on the App Store. If there’s ever been a time to be furious with Apple, now is it.

I'm completely bummed, and disappointed in Apple. And, I'm a huge fan-boy, so this is hard for me to admit.

Looks like I should have purchased the GV Mobile appication while it was still available, instead of waiting for the announced upcoming release of the official Google Voice application.

If AT&T doesn't want free SMS, then they should disable that within the applications, not completely remove them. Using Google Voice doesn't reduce the number of minutes that I burn with AT&T, since my Google Voice account is linked directly to my AT&T iPhone. Everybody should be able to win here.



Saturday, July 25, 2009

RackSpace Opens The Cloud, But Needs To Do More

Rackspace is wise to go open with their API and work to build an open community around cloud services (via RackSpace Opens The Cloud):
Rackspace is open-sourcing the specs for its Cloud Servers and Cloud Files APIs under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license, enabling third-party developers to copy, implement and rehash them as they see fit.

In addition, The Rackspace Cloud (formerly known as Mosso) has made available Cloud Files language bindings along with technical guidelines for Java, PHP, Python, C# and Ruby under the MIT license through GitHub. Rackspace aims to offer a reference implementation in Python soon and in a press release casually mentions it “is aware of Ruby, Perl, Java, and Twisted Python Cloud Servers bindings”, which are all in the process of being developed.

However, I don't think it's enough to offer up an API. When I think about how successful NFS became, it's clear to me that it was the combination of offering up the API as well as a reference implementation and test suite. The NFS team also sponsored "Connectathon" events where everyone could check the interoperability of their ports.

I know that the two domains are not the same. I know that the NFS implementation was not "open source", but rather commercially licensed (there really was no equivalent open source concept like the Creative Commons in the 1980's).

The point I'm making is that if Rackspace wants this to truly become the industry standard, they need to actively foster the community. Even to the point of enabling their direct competitors with a reference implementation of their server side abilities. Rackspace should be confident enough in their lead and implementation to do so.