Velocity Amsterdam – Organisation matters.

VelocityVelocity conference Amsterdam
Date: 07-9-2016

I had the pleasure to be invited to the Velocity conference in Amsterdam. Around 1000 backend (web)developers & operations engineers gather each year in the RAI for this growing conference. The level of talks is great: lots of highly concentrated information was fired at the audience.

The speakers today offered contagious insights, causing serious idea sprawl. I found myself both inspired and immersed, a pleasant state of mind.

I’d love to share some takeaways from the talk of James Duncan. He consults the British Government and voiced his views on how large corporations and governments are inhibited by their size and the need to change this.

Small companies Fail fast, Fail early
Small companies are generally more innovative than large governments or corporates. Generally, due to their level of maturity and lack of capital resources, small companies also live more uncertain lives than the big boys.

This higher level of uncertainty in turn creates a greater need to adapt. Smaller companies need to be agile, be able to reinvent themselves quickly and react very quickly to mistakes – or they die.

This fast iteration cycle creates a very fast learning curve, producing innovative companies.

Too big to fail and learn
Ironically, small companies that do not die often become large corporates or are acquired by them. They tend to lose their innovative edge because the level of uncertainty becomes radically less.

Large corporations and governments have the capital resources to make many mistakes and not learn from them. They are too big to fail and too big to learn.

Size mattersimg_0553
So Small companies have the advantage to ‘Need’ to adapt and learn quickly. Large companies have more resources but do not have the ‘Need’ to use them efficiently.

This standoff should still leave corporates and governments in the advantage of, in addition to their financial capital, having more human capital at their disposal. More brainpower.

Why then does this not seem to translate to higher levels innovative power?

When joining a new government organisation as an employee, it is not uncommon to have to wait for months before all of the IT resources are allocated. It is not only hard to understand why Corporate IT processes seem so medieval compared to smaller companies, it is especially concerning when precisely these internal processes are vital to leveraging human capital.

Organisation matters
Traditional Corporate IT seems less able than smaller companies to adapt to outside changes. The exponential growth of key IT technologies only highten the need to have a responsive IT organisation.

The answer is in organisation. Corporate IT will have to change the way it is organised to remain innovative and competitive. Luckily the past years has brought new ideas in the form of tools and processes have arrived to empower organisations to do just that. I look forward to learning the latest and greatest on these development at this great event!


Back with a vengeance

Willem ter Harmsel

I feel the absence on my blog deserves a little explaining. New articles are arriving shortly, after a six-month period of inactivity.

Besides interviewing Silicon Valley executives, I have three more activities that have been drawing my attention.

First, my primary occupation is owner/ headhunter at my company Indigo Infra. We recruit for technical and commercial leadership positions in IT infrastructure. Business has been great and we are expanding, hiring more staff to cope with the increased client base.

Second, in an effort to work more efficiently at Indigo, we are building a matching engine to automate away part of our recruitment process. This allows us to focus our human capital on human interaction; where we can really make a difference. We are currently in the process of building the prototype.

Third, together with my business partner Jaap van Goch, we joined EVO Venture Partners. EVO is a young venture capital firm focused on early stage start-ups in IT Infrastructure. The value that EVO brings to start-ups is knowledge, network and experience, in addition to seed capital. The team has a mix of IT entrepreneurs, engineers, headhunters and lawyers – all experienced in IT infrastructure.

Things are moving along nicely now in all three areas, allowing me to take up writing again. Next to IT Infrastructure I will be covering a wider range of topics, including HR/recruitment start-ups and quantum computing.

As a headhunter I have particular interest in the recruitment market. I feel that the increasing shortage of great IT specialists cannot be combatted by the traditional recruitment approach. Maturity of data analytics, mobile- and cloud infrastructure technology makes the time right to transform the recruitment space.

Quantum computing is a topic I have personally been triggered by for a long time. I find the subject enigmatic; its workings are elusive to both IT specialists and physicists around me. That makes it a particularly compelling area for me to focus on.

So that’s what you may expect the coming time. Stay tuned!

Willem ter Harmsel

Interview with Jeff Hausman – CloudPhysics

CloudPhysicsCloudPhysics, Interview with CEO Jeff Hausman
Date: 25-2-2015
CloudPhysics Crunchbase profile

I had the pleasure to speak with Jeff Hausman of CloudPhysics, who took over the CEO role from founder John Blumenthal.

This interview is a follow-up of my interview with John a while back, when he was still the CEO.

I interviewed Jeff about his go-to market strategy, views on the global market space and CloudPhysics’ product evolution.

Jef Hausman

[Read more…]

Interview with Steve Herrod – General Catalyst Partners

General Catalyst PartnersGeneral Catalyst Partners, Interview with Steve Herrod
Date: 16 February 2015
General Catalyst Partners Crunchbase profile

Recently I had the great honor and pleasure to speak with Steve Herrod, managing director at General Catalyst partners. Before entering the VC world, Steve enjoyed an impressive 12-year long career at VMware where he held various technical leadership roles and left as CTO.

I had a very forthright talk with Steve, no marketing speak or any rehearsed answers. To reflect the open nature of our chat, I left the transcription largely un-edited.

Steve-HerrodI spoke to Steve about developments in the market and his investmentfocus at General Catalyst partners. Specifically we discussed the trend towards Mobile, Mobile payment and the increased scarcity in developer talent.
[Read more…]

Predictive Analytics key to great software quality? Intro to Grip.QA

logo gripInterview with founders Kamiel Wanrooij and Jan Princen
Date: 10 October 2014
Grip.QA profile

Last week I had the opportunity to meet up with two old friends, Jan and Kamiel, for some drinks and hear about their plans with Grip.QA

In a sentence, Grip applies predictive analytics to software development to improves software quality. I have interviewed quite a few predictive analytics companies in the IT infrastructure space and I was intrigued to learn about the application of predictive analytics to software development.

[Read more…]

DataGravity: Game changing data-aware storage

Interview with founder and CEO Paula Long
Date: 6 October 2014
DataGravity Profile

Paula Long founded EqualLogic, which was acquired by Dell in 2007. She was only interested to get back in business with a truly game changing idea, which she did: Data-aware storage.

paula_long640x474DataGravity won the ‘best of show’ award at VMworld 2014 in the category new technology, definitely a good start. I had the pleasure to speak with Paula Long last week and learn about DataGravity’s plans and current status.
[Read more…]

Build your own private Amazon cloud at $1ct/GB with Cloudian

Interview with founder and CEO Michael Tso
Date: 3 October 2014
Cloudian Profile

Interview with Michael Tso, CEO of Cloudian

This wednesday morning I had the pleasure to speak with Michael Tso at breakfast in an Amsterdam city-centre hotel.
Born in mainland China, Michael was raised in Shanghai and Hongkong, finished high school in Melbourne and graduated at MIT in 1993. In his 20 years business experience he not only lead companies commercially, but also accumulated 32 patents.

He’s the CEO of Cloudian, a company I only recently became aware of.

[Read more…]

Chetan Venkatesh: Founder and CTO of Atlantis Computing

atlantis computing centered2Interview with founder and CTO Chetan Venktatesh
Date: 20 August 2014
Atlantis Crunchbase Profile

In succession to the interview with CEO Bernard Harguindeguy I had the pleasure to speak with the CTO of Atlantis, Chetan Venkatesh.

As the founder of Atlantis, he provided great background to Atlantis. Enjoy the interview!

Willem ter Harmsel: Can you run me through the genesis of Atlantis Computing?

Chetan Venkatesh: Chetan VenkateshI can! I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my life and started Atlantis in 2006. I spent a lot of time in the datacenter, storage and Infrastructure space. I was keen to to explore the software that was on the server side to do something intelligent with storage.

We had Moore’s law deliver twice the horsepower at half the cost. I was inspired to create a storage model that took advantage of these increasing CPU cycles and RAM on the server side.

I wanted to bring data services like de-duplication and compression, that require a lot of CPU power, right next to the application.

(Smiling) It turns out that this is much harder idea to implement in practice than said. It took us almost 3 years to complete the first version of the product and we launched in 2009.
[Read more…]

Interview with Alex Benik of Battery Ventures

Battery VenturesBattery Ventures, interview with Alex Benik
Date: 19 Augustus 2014
Battery Ventures CrunchBase profile

I had the honour to speak with Alex Benik, partner at Battery Ventures where he focuses on IT Infrastructure technologies. He previously worked for the Yankee Group.

Battery Ventures is a large fund that invests in a wide variety of start-ups, divided in eCommerce&Retail, Digital Media, Industrial Technologies, Software&Services and Infrastructure.

Alex currently works with a number of known players in IT infrastructure, namely: Diablo Technologies, AppDynamics, Catchpoint, Chef, Cumulus Networks, Nutanix, Primary Data, and Stratoscale.

When he has the time, Alex blogs for GigaOM, where he writes in-depth articles on trends in the infrastructure arena.

I had a brief talk with Alex about his views on the IT infrastructure market and specifically his take on SanDisks acquisition of FusionIO.
[Read more…]

Interview with Sirish Raghuram, CEO of Platform9

Platform9Platform9, interview with CEO Sirish Raghuram
Date: 18 Augustus 2014
Platform9 CrunchBase profile

I recently spoke with Alex Benik of Battery Ventures, who argued the IT market has come to expect the ease-of-use and agility of public cloud services like AWS (Amazon Web Services).

Read my article with Alex Benik, partner at Battery Ventures here

Alex stated that internal IT organisations are increasingly benchmarked against AWS by their internal customers in terms of ease-of-use and speed. For traditional enterprises, that do not have the scale and resources of Amazon, it is very hard to meet the AWS service levels.

As circumstances would have it, soon after I picked up these insights I spoke with Platform9. They offer internal IT organisations a way to build a private cloud that approaches the agility and ease-of-use of AWS.

I had the great pleasure to speak with Sirish Raghuram, the CEO of Platform9.
[Read more…]