StackStorm acquired by Brocade

As you may have seen, today we announced that StackStorm has joined Brocade (BRCD).

We’re extremely excited that in just over two years we’ve gone from an idea to a team to a product, to a community and now to a bunch of users actually contributing back (aka, a “real community.”) Before I go on let me say thank you to xSeed capital and all of our investors, advisors, users and especially customers for betting on us. I feel truly blessed and yes, that means I attribute much of this outcome to higher powers, fortune and luck.

In this post I’d like to provide a perspective on what StackStorm growing quickly and being acquired means — what take-aways I see for event-driven automation, auto-remediation and chatops and the broader infrastructure space. I’ll also share some thoughts at the end about what I think I might be doing next; unlike the rest of the core team, I’m not joining Brocade.

If you are after the official announcement, you can find that at www.stackstorm.com/blog . You can expect to hear much more from Brocade about how StackStorm fits into and accelerates their product strategy in early May.

First a couple of quick bits of context:

  • StackStorm remains small, and seed funded.
  • We were able to get a 1.0 Enterprise Edition to market just last Fall and lucky enough to have users like Dimension Data and of course our friends at Netflix talking about us. Just last week Pulsant joined the Automation Happy Hour and said stuff like “you guys make us awesome” while also mentioning all the incredible stuff they have contributed including a way to do dual factor authentication for ChatOps.
  • About a year before that — the fall of 2014 — we open sourced an early version of StackStorm.
  • Our team very much was and is an experienced one. They are all rock stars and prove once again that a small team of world class engineers can deliver on a goal that much larger teams at established IT automation firms such as Microsoft and HP (although CloudSlang is pretty cool :)) struggle to achieve.
  • Brocade intends to increase their support for the StackStorm community and the team is already growing under my co-founder Dmitri’s engineering leadership. I believe you’ll see continued excellence in community engagement from the team as well as a further focus on the scalability of StackStorm as it is taken into some of the world’s most mission critical network operations environments.

My quick take-aways about what the acquisition may mean to event driven automation and the broader infrastructure space:

  • Operations architects are powerful and crucial. Whether it is Reinhardt Quelle and his entire team at Cisco or Chris Jackson and Michael Ward at Pearson or Grant Mitchell and Jon Middleton at Pulsant or of course Anthony Shaw at Dimension Data (and yes I’m leaving out friends at Netflix and elsewhere…), again and again we saw StackStorm embraced by leaders in IT that are not just DevOps practitioners, they are DevOps thinkers; and these thinkers both understand and often own the overall architecture for how they build and operate technology. I tended to treat our view of relevant personas as a closely held secret so at least in my mind the focus on this persona is valuable.
  • Event driven automation really does exist as a space that is complementary to the mega clustering compute oriented frameworks that are emerging such as Kubernetes and Mesos. Admittedly, the amount of churn and disruption in IT can cloud the picture somewhat. However, it becomes much more clear once you dig in and see users like Michael Ward at Pearson extending and integrating Kubernetes into an environment such as Pearson (see him on Happy Hour #11 here: https://stackstorm.com/2016/02/12/automation-happy-hour-11-kubernetes-lifecycle-management-of-external-dependencies/) . I’m sure that the Event Driven Automation meet-up I helped spin up with a friend Brian Sherwin from LinkedIn will continue and will thrive.
  • ChatOps for operations remains immature — and yet is being rapidly adopted. The lack of security of ChatOps and the relative cluelessness of the chat vendors about how to tie into operational environments in a way that actually makes sense to operate are two key inhibitors. StackStorm nails the second inhibitor in my very biased opinion however it seems the chat providers see direct integration to their layer as strategic and are not super happy about an intermediary. Regarding security that’s a larger issue that will need tight RBAC integration into ChatOps which itself — typically — requires good relations with the chat vendors.

Since we are “selling out” — does that mean we think the bubble is collapsing?

  • This is just one experienced person’s opinion however I don’t think we are in for a repeat of the dot com collapse. And that could be the subject of an entire blog post as I’ve survived both. I do think that funding is already slowing down massively due to investors focusing more on their existing portfolio then on the next deal; investors becoming concerned about the funding environment is a classic case of a self-fullfilling prophecy.
  • In our case, we are primarily selling StackStorm because we found a good home that will be investing more in the product and community. For the growing community of users this will add more confidence in the long term prospects for StackStorm. Brocade also has a longer strategic view and will not be placing commercial pressures on the team that otherwise would have inevitably increased with further venture funding.

What about me?

I am taking 90 days off.

It has been 15–16 years of start-ups back to back to back.

Along the way I’ve learned a huge amount about myself. Capturing and thinking about what exactly I’ve learned and how I hope to apply it next — that’s what those 90 days are for. And in the meantime I’ll become more active in my community and more importantly a yet more active Dad and Husband. I’ll place some bets here and there and undoubtedly will continue to meet with early stage entrepreneurs to offer advice and to get a vicarious buzz from their vision and energy as well. Along those lines I’ll be a coach for the Alchemist Accelerator where I’ve already met some amazing entrepreneurs over the last few years.

One thing I’m certain about is that we’re finally getting really good at building the tech people want and need, including the tech they need to build better tech. And that’s exciting and intensely motivating and in many cases disruptive to all manner of business and even to society itself. It’ll be hard to push away from the table for a little bit, but for now I’m full and need to take a walk while I digest.

Stay in touch, and thanks for all the fish.

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