OpDemand is a Colorado-based startup that aims to improve ease of use for cloud developers. They announced General Availability of their cloud infrastructure management platform in April, which allows software development teams to leverage raw cloud infrastructure without being overwhelmed by technical complexity. More recently, they announced an upgrade to the platform that allows developers to collaborate and share management capabilities within the cloud environment.
I spoke with Gabriel Monroy, CTO and Joshua Schnell, CEO to get more details on what they are doing. I discovered right off that they and their third co-founder, Yoni Gorelov, are fellow Tufts graduates. We are just a few years apart. They have picked a robust field, as I see new studies on the growth of the cloud almost daily.
There are several ways to get involved in the cloud from SaaS on one hand, where you turn everything over to a provider to IaaS on the other side where you take a good bit of control and responsibility yourself. With IaaS you still use a cloud service provider like Amazon but you take control over the set up and management. This control offers more flexibility.. However, the responsibility part can be a challenge for many IT shops who do not have the skills to handle it. Gabe saw this first hand at his work and the three of them saw the business opportunity this gap presents. I would certainly agree that this is a smart move and a good place for a startup.
More specifically many IT organizations lack: a repeatable system for provisioning workloads, automated configuration management, tools to overcome cloud complexity, cloud optimized workloads, and processes for fully automated environments. To address these issues, OpDemand provides proprietary orchestration technology that dynamically assembles and disassembles complex infrastructure blue prints. There is also automated configuration management with a simple and intuitive interface. I saw the interface in action and can attest to this.
They showed me how you can set up a Clojure application. With a few clicks it was ready in about 5 minutes. In the pre-cloud days, a similar set up would take 2 – 4 weeks including time to procure hardware. Even in the cloud days, an IaaS implementation without OpDemand would take 1 – 2 days of reading manuals, hoping they are accurate, and a strong set of related skills. OpDemand was so easy even I could do it. You can see the interface below.
There are other significant benefits. They have a Stop button. This feature can be very handy and save a lot of cost as many cloud instances are used to develop and test apps. They do not need to be running all the time racking up service costs. However, the stop and re-start process without OpDemand is so complex that most, if not all, development teams simply leave the service and cost meter running all the time. With OpDemand, you just click the Stop button and it stops. Then you click start and it starts up again. Below you can see a sample screen indicating which apps are running and which have been stopped.
There is also an activity steam, labeled Events, where you can see auto-generated status updates. You can also share environments to facilitate collaborative management among a team of developers. Josh said that sales have grown rapidly since their April launch and I can see why. They question to me for a development team is: why not?