UPDATED 20:00 EDT / APRIL 08 2014

Severalnines CEO on architecting for failure | #PerconaLive

cluster_control_logoJoining Jeff Frick on theCUBE at last week’s #PerconaLive event was Vinay Joosery, CEO and co-founder of Severalnines, a company whose name derives from the term connoting optimal percentage of availability DBA’s strive for. Joosery took time to share with Frick the particulars behind Severalnines, their place in the MySQL space and the importance of embracing clustering as part of a planned failure strategy.

Based in Sweden, Severalnines’ core competency centers around the production of automation and management tools for database clusters. “We’ve been working for the past 10 to 15 years with database clusters,” commented Joosery. “And recently, there’s more and more clusters being put in production.”

His company, recognizing the relative difficulty associated with the operation and running of those clusters, has created a product that completely automates the process. “Operational people come to us to deploy their clusters. We also have management tools to help them add nodes, remove nodes, clone their clusters, do upgrades and all that stuff,” he said. Though the company is just three years old, Joosery credits his team’s having worked with the MySQL community over the past decade as key to their early success.

With Joosery stating they currently service 80 paying customers with that number expected to top 100 this summer, Frick inquired who their customer base was comprised of. “So, are most of your customers start ups? Are they Enterprises? Are they service providers?”

“We have the whole full range actually,” responded Joosery. “We have everything from large telecom customers to large IT companies. We also have very small start ups. So, it’s all over the place.”

Watch the interview in its entirety here:

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“PerconaLive focuses on MySQL,” stated Frick, “but you guys have a solution that recognizes the reality that people have different database infrastructures for different applications. Does your product work with a hybrid solution?

“Absolutely,” responded Joosery. “You can use our product to automate deployment and management of your clusters, whether they are on-premise, bare bone machines or on Amazon or in a private sort of OpenStack environment. These are the three main things that we do. You could have clusters in Tokyo, Paris, London, the US. Everything is presented in one place on a single pane of glass. Plus, we do multiple types of clusters like MongoDB and MySQL.”

Making Freemium Pay

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While Severalnines has 80 paying customers, there are an additional 7,000 organizations that use their freemium product, itself a closed source, proprietary offering. However, Joosery claims the company is committed to open source and the community around it.

“Open source is a great way of distributing your product,” he claimed. “The nice thing with it is if you use it as part of your development process, it can be extremely powerful.” While Severalnines main product is, as mentioned above, proprietary and offered as a freemium, paying customers get added value with the inclusion of Enterprise features and support. The model seems to be working for Severalnines but it isn’t without its challenges, as Joosery noted.

“Building a product that is freemium is very hard,” he said. “It needs to be very useful so that it does attract people and get value from it. But you can’t give the whole farm away because otherwise they wouldn’t pay you for anything.”

At this point in the interview, Frick changed gears, asking Joosery to discuss how both the movement to the Cloud and the explosive growth of mobile over the last few years have impacted Severalnine’s customers and the demand for the company’s services.

Finding Advantage Through Clustering

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“The interesting thing with the Cloud,” Joosery commented, “is that it’s very cheap nowadays to actually throw a service out in the data center. The problem is, with more and more clouds around, the VM’s that people deploy on tend to be a little bit ephemeral. If you are using Cloud servers, the might go down at any time.”

This, said Joosery, requires a strategy of architecting for failure. “What’s good for us is that we help people architect these database clusters on commodity VM’s that are not very reliable. We allow people to build a very reliable system, resilient across multiple data centers, across different Clouds. That, basically, is what our toolset is used for.”

Severalnines’ model, based around architecting for failure, is a benefit for their customers who want as little downtime as possible. However, Frick inquired if the Enterprise as a whole was coming to the conclusion that this was a wise strategy, or if they were still relying on backup.

“I think people are actually getting into clusters,” stated Joosery, “ and actually looking at those as systems of many, many components. Look at the interest, for example, of Percona ExtraDB cluster and Galera. There’s a massive interest out there and many companies are trying it. Many people have been in the mindset of having maybe a few servers or a simple replication set-up. But I think we’ve seen, since last year, there’s a huge push to actually go all into clusters.”

Joosery credits this shift to an overall maturation of the IT world in terms of clustering. Early days of the technology were mired in complexity. However, just in the last five to six years, that complexity has been diminished as more and more companies are coming to life around clustering.

“I think there is a huge market for this now that you have multiple clustered database types,” said Joosery. “Now people need tools to help deploy them, manage them, scale them and monitor them. That’s where we are.”

The Year Ahead for Severalnines

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Wrapping up the interview, Frick detailed the history of PerconaLive and asked Joosery to share why he felt the event was important enough to attend, to share his perspective on the general tenor of this year’s PerconaLive, and to predict what Severalnines would be sharing on theCUBE at PerconaLive 2015.

“I’ve been coming to this show for the past 10 years,” commented Joosery. “I’ve seen how things change a little bit after MySQL got bought by Oracle and after Percona took over. What I see is that things are actually starting to go up again.”

With the big announcements, especially around WebScale MySQL, Joosery claimed the vibe around the event is great. “I don’t know any other database community out there that is having all of this innovation,” he said. “We want to be a part of it, obviously. This is the biggest open source community that we know about.”

For what the future holds for Severalnines, Joosery predicted next year’s appearance on theCUBE would have him sharing their attaining a paying customer base three times greater than today. He credits Severalnines recently announced partnership with Percona as leading to that eventuality.

“Percona sells the ExtraDB cluster and they’ve bundled our Enterprise products. I think that’s going to be huge for us,” he said. “We are looking forward to increasing the cooperation and getting even more of a footprint.”


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