Ondat, a company dedicated to building software-defined solutions for cloud-native environments, is in the process of rebranding itself. The reason for the rebrand is to capture the changes that are happening in various markets. According to Alex Chircop, Founder and CEO at Ondat, “We’re seeing this movement where developers are actually becoming more and more responsible for everything in their environment.” Chircop continues, “It can be a bit of an abuse to term, but it’s the concept of everything shifting left to the developer. And this is happening in testing, CI/CD, storage, and networking.”
But what about the shift left which is happening in reality? Developers aren’t just seeing more responsibility, but have to deploy more and more apps with quicker iterations. To this, Chircop says, “You can’t necessarily expect a developer or a DevOps team to be knowledgeable about every item.”
Ondat has a new solution, the Ondat SaaS platform. This new platform is not a host for data or a private cloud. Instead, what they’re doing, according to Chircop, is “providing a really simple way of getting the Ondat data services and scalable performance storage for those stateful applications into your cluster, and providing a really easy way of managing that.”
The new service isn’t targeted at a specific use case, but rather a broad set of customers and use cases. However, the main use case for the new service is stateful applications, which Chircop says, “could be an application that’s actually written by the customer themselves who needs access to persistent data that’s highly available in performance to deploying high-end databases.”
As far as an ecosystem is concerned, Ondat is trying to make it simple for developers to build their stateful applications and build the dependencies for those applications. Anyone willing to sign up for the early access beta can go to ondat.online.
This summary was written by Jack Wallen.
Topics we covered include:
- StorageOS recently rebranded itself to Ondat. What’s the strategy behind this rebranding?
- We are breaking old silos, but creating new ones. So in reality, are we still creating silos?
- Let’s now talk about the Ondat platform. Is it the same code as of StorageOS or is it a totally new product under the new branding designed for the cloud-native workloads?
- What kind of use cases are there for Ondat? Who are you targeting with it?
- Are you also looking at the Edge use case?
- Since it’s a platform, is there also a marketplace of ecosystems around it so the community can enhance the functionality of the platform?
- You recently released the beta. For how long will you run it? What kind of insights are you planning to collect with the beta and how people can access it?
Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is Swapnil Bhartiya, and welcome to another episode of TFiR Let’s Talk. The StorageOS recently rebranded themselves as Ondat. And they recently launched their first SaaS platform for developers and DevOps team to build and run a stateful Kubernetes applications. To talk about this rebranding and the new SaaS platform we have with us today, Alex Chircop, Founder and CEO at Ondat. Alex, it’s great to have you on the show.
Alex Chircop: It’s brilliance to be talking to you again. I think the last time we talked was back in San Diego at KubeCon. It’s been a while.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Yes, so much has happened since then. And there are a lot of things to talk about today. I’ll start with the elephant in the room, which is more or less about rebranding. Tell me why you felt the need to rebrand yourself, how you plan to reposition itself, what does it mean, how the market is changing. So let’s talk about the story behind rebranding.
Alex Chircop: Right. So the rebrand is mostly to capture the changes that are happening in the markets, right. We’re seeing this movement where developers are actually becoming more and more responsible for everything in their environment. It can be a bit of an abuse to term, but it’s the concept of everything shifting left to the developer, right. And this is happening in testing and CI/CD, and it’s also happening in storage and networking now, too. So, the data services that effectively we’re providing for stateful applications. And this is not a new thing. This is an evolution as orchestrators and composable infrastructure is being deployed by and managed by developers and DevOps teams. So, effectively we have this scenario now where we have this kind of like a bit of a dilemma for developers, right.
Because they need to be able to rely on the infrastructure to provide the performance and the scale, and the security. But they also need the infrastructure to support the new cloud paradigm. The on-off consumption model with the self-service is the automation around deployment and operations. And so we kind of get to this point where the developers are now specifying, not just what their application needs in terms of containers, but also in terms of CPU networking and their data services. And they’re looking for an environment where their stateful applications can easily run within the same Kubernetes infrastructure that they’ve been using for all of their other applications, too. So that’s what’s kind of driven the move, because it’s no longer about the storage. And it’s more about how stateful applications use data within these orchestrated environments.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Thanks for sharing that. One thing that I do want to ask you is, as you mentioned earlier that a lot of shift left is happening, a lot of things are moving into developers [inaudible 00:03:30]. There are two things that I’m seeing. Number one is just a lot of shift is happening. We are trying to break old silos of, you have to have networking team, storage teams and all the security team. But the fact is that we are kind of creating new silos because when we do talk about NetOps and [inaudible 00:03:47], so we are creating… And the problem is that people, they lean towards certain areas of. Some people are more interested in security. Some people are more interested in networking. Some people are more, they have experienced stories. So, that skill set leads to creating these silos. So while we do want to move more things, what are you seeing in reality, because that also helps when we talk about the SaaS platform that you’re building there?
Alex Chircop: So the reality is that, as part of the shift left, developers are getting the responsibility. But they’re also deploying more and more apps, and CI/CD means that you have quicker deployment iterations. And the data in these applications effectively [inaudible 00:04:39] causes lock into specific parts of the infrastructure. So I think you’re right. There is a bit of a challenge because in all of these spaces, you can’t necessarily expect a developer or a DevOps team to be knowledgeable about every item. And this sometimes it could means that they don’t take an active short of capabilities, or they don’t think of some of the data issues, like fail over high availability, disaster recovery, data protection, security, for example.
And so the main trust of what we’re doing with on that is to give them that easy to use platform across the software only approach that gives them the ability to run all of their stateful applications. And because these stateful applications are actually being run in a composable format, it allows them to create anything as a service, right. We see our customers do things like CI/CD as a service, or databases service, or message key as a service, or even with projects like [inaudible 00:05:46] actually running infrastructure as a service because now you can also manage VMs in Kubernetes too.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. Now let’s talk about the beta of the new Ondat SaaS platform. First of all, I want to understand also, if you look at your past which was StorageOS, is it once again, refactoring of rebranding of any product from that era, or this is something totally brand new, which is designed for cloud native workloads?
Alex Chircop: No, absolutely. If you think of StorageOS as the engine, think of Ondat as the car that we’ve built with that engine, right. And all the core product is part of Ondat. In fact the SaaS platform effectively builds Ondat. So a couple of things to clarify the situation of what we’re doing and what we’re not doing, right. So first off, we’re not hosting people’s data, we’re not building our own private clouds. We’re not restricting what you can run or we’re restricting what you can build. What we’re doing here is providing a really simple way of getting the Ondat data services and scalable performance storage for those stateful applications into your cluster, and providing a really easy way of managing that.
So making it simple to deploy, making it simple to license, making it simple to manage. So the idea is that as a first step, we get the ability to monitor and provide observability into the cluster and provide simple dashboards to make, so that developers can actually cut through some of that complexity and actually understand what’s happening within their environment. The second step is to actually provide control and management for some of the more complex functionality like disaster recovery, for example. And as a third step, we’re also working on providing a marketplace of sort of best practice guys, if you wish, effectively giving developers the ability to build the database of their choice or the message queue of their choice, or the developer tool sets like Jenkins or whatever else into their environment in a really simple and automatic way.
Swapnil Bhartiya: And since you are targeting stateful Kubernetes applications, can you share either some of the use cases where it makes more sense to go with Ondat platform or what is going to be your target audience? Who are you looking at?
Alex Chircop: Well, this is kind of interesting because I don’t think there is a specific vertical or a specific use case that is particularly targeted to Ondat, in that we have a very broad set of customers and use cases today. So typically the main use cases though are stateful applications. And this could be an application that’s actually written by the customer themselves who… And they just need access to persistent data that’s highly available in performance to deploying high end databases, whether it’s SQL or no SQL, or message queues or buses, or shared file systems, for example, whatever type of data services is needed. And what we saw maybe, say a year or two ago, was that we had quite a strong focus in particular verticals like financial services or service providers, because perhaps they were a little ahead of the curve in terms of Kubernetes maturity and getting their teams working with cloud native.
But over the last year, we’ve seen the number of verticals expand dramatically, everything from research organizations and healthcare, education, retail, defense organizations, media organizations. There’s certainly… This is a bit of a cliche to quote, but there’s certainly this tsunami of Kubernetes adoption that we’re kind of seeing everywhere to some extent or another. And I don’t think… And it’s not about just using sort of technology functions of Kubernetes, but they’re using Kubernetes to actually change the things that they do or the capabilities of their organization.
Swapnil Bhartiya: One use case that I want to quickly discuss, and it depends on whether it’s in the radar, is edge. When we talk about edge, we are not necessarily talking about small IT devices. We are talking about edge data centers. So is that also a use case that you are looking at or not?
Alex Chircop: No, absolutely. So edge is unfortunately one of those topics that’s almost as misused as the term cloud, right. But in many cases, what we’re seeing is that organizations are certainly moving to a more distributed infrastructure. And this can be anything from, you need media distributors to different locations. It could be a retail organization that is installing many Kubernetes clusters in each branch office, for example. It could also be things like energy and other research organizations who are using distributed labs, for example, and that sort of thing. So I think what we’re definitely seeing is more and more this capability where we just need to have a baseline set of data services, which are available everywhere, right. So the idea being that with Ondat, we give them the capability of doing this in a completely platform agnostic way, whether they’re using bare metal on little servers or big servers, or they’re using VMs or they cloud instances. And in reality almost all of our clients have some sort of mix between those combinations.
Swapnil Bhartiya: You earlier talked about marketplace and we are looking at a platform. So can you talk about what kind of ecosystem are you thinking of building around this platform?
Alex Chircop: Well, what we’re trying to do is to make it simple for the developer to actually build their stateful applications and build the dependencies for the stateful applications, so for example, things like databases. And the idea here is that it shouldn’t be hard to do the right thing, right. What we see as one of the biggest challenges is developers with DevOps teams either end up rolling their own system, or they end up consuming perhaps cloud services, which might also be very expensive in the long run. And so what we want to do is we want to do two things. The first thing is make it extremely easy for them to do the right thing out of the box within their environment. And the second thing is making it easy for them to integrate the stateful applications and their databases and their message queues into exactly the same process, if you wish, and the same workflow that they use for all of their applications.
Right. So once they’re in the position of using an orchestrator to manage deployment and manage the health, and manage scaling of the rest of their infrastructure and the rest of their applications, why not use the same environment to apply the same benefits to everything in the stateful world, too? Which is a big change actually for a lot of these customers, right. Because they’re hitting these pain points because a lot of the stateful applications, they are locked in the traditional world and they’re finding it hard to actually move them into these orchestrated environments.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you talk about how long you will run the beta, what kind of insights you are trying to look or collect from your users, which will prepare you for the final release, and how people can access it.
Alex Chircop: Right. So you can sign up for the early access using ondat.online. We’ve made kind of a really simple signup process there. We’re working right now with the platform, with a number of our existing customers and some select P-users who are providing us feedback in terms of feature sets and user interfaces, and making sure that everything is as smooth and proven across a variety of platforms, because of course there are a lot of flavors of Kubernetes and whether they’re managed services or formal certified distributions. And so we’re doing that for the next couple of months. And then towards the end of the year and the beginning and early of next year, we’ll be opening it up to a wider audience.
As part of the SaaS platform, what we’re also looking to do is make it simple for a number of these databases to use on that as a way of deploying in a very standardized homogenous way across any Kubernetes platform. So effectively extending the pillars that we’re building into the platform like the platform agnostic nature of all that, the scalability and the reliability across any of those different services to all of the different database platforms. And so we’re going to be working very closely with a number of those partners and establishing those relationships via the marketplace.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Alex, thank you so much for taking time out today and talk about, of course, Ondat, and of course your plan. And I would love to have you back on the show. Thank you.
Alex Chircop: Thank you, Swapnil. As always this has been great. I would love to be back.