RackN, $91 B Market Opportunity, 2K17 Year of Massive Growth

Lontra Ventures Spotlight Series

Yesterday I wrote my professional goals for 2K17 -

Working with and investing in stellar teams delivering true vision with compelling products to paying customers for MEANINGFUL results.

As a follow-on, I thought it might be insightful to run snapshots on each of my portfolio companies and share what I see. As a bit of background, Lontra Ventures works with companies ranging from artificial intelligence, analytics, audio and video, big data, database technologies, developer tools, high performance computing, IT infrastructure, IoT and web optimization. Delivery delivery models span from API, SaaS, PaaS and Enterprise Sales with consulting and even consumer! At RackN, I act as an advisor.

RackN Opportunity

In 2017, CIOs are both empowered and challenged by the increasing diversity and options for data center tools and offerings. The infrastructure options from e.g. Amazon Web Services and Google coupled with the powerful tools from e.g. Kubernetes, Docker, OpenStack are creating an operational bottleneck. The problem and opportunity is big as Gartner notes 50% of Enterprises will use hybrid cloud this year with accelerating growth. This is a $91 B addressable market per MarketsAndMarkets. This hybrid approach means rethinking what a “data center” means by 2020 because it will be a mix of different infrastructure types.

RackN Product

To enable the 2020 Data Center, RackN builds “Google-Like” automated infrastructure WITHOUT limiting IT to a specific infrastructure, platform or operational model. RackN’s product the Digital Rebar Framework is delivered via a “single pane of glass” sold to Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) teams, a new highly demanded function that sits between Developers and Ops. Google recently introduced us to the SRE via their book “Site Reliability Engineering, How Google Runs Production Systems”. This hybrid infrastructure abstraction software delivers platforms at scale, eliminating complexity and enabling the most advanced use of new technologies like Kubernetes and containers, which are only now being used at scale together.

RackN’s Core Tenants

At RackN decisions and thoughts are bound by the following tenants:

  • Automate all things
  • Abstractions are useful until they are not
  • Automation composability/modularity enables heterogeneity
  • Heterogeneity is reality, embrace it
  • Sequence of operations is important
  • Manual touch of systems is a fail path

RackN In the Market

RackN solutions are deployed across the Fortune 500 primarily optimizing for:

  • Replace legacy infrastructure provisioning and lifecycle management at scale (>1000s of nodes),
  • Create mobility between different infrastructure, platforms & applications), and
  • Enable Heterogenous composable operations (tooling to create intelligent workflow pipeline orchestration)

Customers particularly value the simplicity, security and automation . Our customers are challenging us with new and exciting requests every day such as running @OpenStack on @kubernetesio for which there is no enterprise standard today. This year RackN will also approach the market with partners including consortiums such as Infrastructure Masons (@InfraMason) and service providers such as Groupware (@groupwaretech).

RackN’s Stellar Team

Wow — could there be a team more appropriate to launch RackN. The team lead by Rob Hirschfeld and Dan Choquette spun the original tech out of a Dell open source project Crowbar. Since then team has been heads-down building product and truly understanding customer pain. Our founding engineers Greg Althaus and Victor Lowther have worked in Data Center automation (DevOps & SRE) for their entire careers and understand why the bottleneck exists and how to truly extract value. As part of our deployments, they conduct onsite vendor evaluations and training to ensure utmost success across the account.

What to Watch for in 2K17?

The year just started, and we are off with a bang. In January, RackN is deploying 1000 licenses supporting a client’s SRE team in moving data centers. RackN was selected for this engagement given our emphasis on hybrid infrastructure mobility. RackN is doubling down on the license plus service model by combining their open source Digital Rebar framework with SRE integration to help customers jumpstart their operations automation efforts.

Investors and Advisors

RackN surrounds itself with some pretty distinguished folks. These folks have expertise in technologies like @docker, OpenStack, @chef, @Canonical and experience in organizations like Accenture, Dell, and Amazon. This team has brought in investment Juniper Ventures, Evo Partners, SKVentures and Duke Angels.

Remaining Thoughts

I am super excited to be an advisor to RackN. First, these guys know how to hustle, and grit is one of my favorite characteristics. Second, Rob is a real-deal thought leader surrounding himself with a team of sales, engineers and partners that deliver massive improvements for the CIOs office. I am eager to share more case studies of time saved and opportunities created within our clients to spread the word. Much of what @rackngo will accomplish in 2017 will be firsts and breakthroughs, which as hard as that can be, in my mind is the most rewarding.