A few months ago I wrote about how we were preparing to launch a new product at my company, one that was built around the idea of radical innovation – the kind of innovation that changes industries by changing the very foundation of the industries themselves. Not all innovations are like this, nor should they be. They are high-risk propositions but they are the kinds of innovations I like best because, success or failure, they are rooted in a core vision. And, I am a “vision” kind of guy.
Right now, I am sitting on a flight en route to the tradeshow at which we will launch this new product. The product is called the HC3. My company is Scale Computing. It’s a product that plays in the world of information technology infrastructure – the blinking lights and humming of a server room that is full of stuff. It’s a world that most of you probably don’t give two hoots about. But to me, it’s the world I grew up in.
Scale Computing was a company founded on a big vision. While many of you are probably far from being IT administrators, I’m sure you are familiar enough to have a basic understanding of ‘the stuff’ that exists in those datacenters: servers, storage systems, networking. Maybe you’ve even heard of something called “virtualization.”
I won’t bore you with all of the details of what HC3 is (if you are interested, you can find out here) but when I talk about radical innovation in an industry, that’s what HC3 is all about. It replaces servers, storage and virtualization with something entirely new. This radical innovation makes all those “old” technologies obsolete. It’s a major change.
I say all this to set the stage for a message that was sent internally to our entire Scale Computing team by Scott Loughmiller, who is one of our co-founders and who runs the product development team. It captures, in a small way, what being on the inside of innovation at this level is all about and what it’s like to pursue a big vision over a long period of time.
I share this because sometimes business can seem very dry, formal and numbers-driven. All about Excel spreadsheets and SEC filings. But that’s not what business is for me. Business for me is about bringing a vision to reality and changing the way the world works. It’s emotional. It’s a rollercoaster. It’s a hard-fought journey. Numbers and spreadsheets may be how Wall Street measures a business, but that’s not how entrepreneurs live them or what motivates a regular guy like me.
Scott’s email captures that essence of visionary entrepreneurship. I hope you enjoy it.
At the end of 2007, the team of entrepreneurs I’ve worked with in some shape or form since college were hammering the nails into the coffin of one of our failed startups. It wasn’t the first; it likely won’t be the last. But it’s one of those things that come with the territory. Failure is part of learning; it’s a part of living. And, it’s a big part of the life of an entrepreneur. Of course, there was no question about what happened next – we would try again, as we have done, and will do again. The real question was, what would it be?
We’d been kicking ideas around for what seemed like years – lots of promise and excitement, but nothing that really stuck. Then our CTO, Jason Collier, said, “Everyone is using virtualization wrong. We should do it right and beat them.” It was a lightening bolt. Boom! That was it! So simple, so right. When you hit those good ideas, there’s no question, no hesitation – let’s do it! We did. And, what a long road it has been.
Within 10 minutes of Collier saying that, we had an architecture drawn on the whiteboard and we were in full planning mode. Wow! This was perfect. It was exactly what the market needed – it was simple, easy and it’s “how it should be.” All we needed was inexpensive storage that met our requirements. Turns out – the storage didn’t exist. What to do? Build storage! So over the next four years, we built a storage product – one that was inexpensive and met our requirements for our virtualization idea. Four long years. There were roadblocks and wrong turns, distractions due to success, and distractions due to failure. But four years later, we launched Danjon – the product that was the fundamental foundation needed for the virtualization product we first envisioned four years ago. The technical base for our vision was finally here.
By the time we got there in April of 2012, we were burnt out. My engineering team had just spent a year on a ground-up rewrite of our technology to complete this foundation. And, what did I say to them? “Nice foundation. Now…let’s get to work!” Damn. You know what else I said? “I know the foundation took a year, but the “real product” has to be done in 16 weeks.” Sixteen weeks? They told me I was nuts.
I was optimistic; I always am. The team kicked all kinds of ass and as of today we’ve launched the product into production at customer sites. Now, 19 weeks later on an aggressive 16-week schedule, we’ve deployed the best product I’ve ever been a part of building. In the world of software development, it doesn’t get any better than this.
That whiteboard drawing from four-and-a-half years ago is now a reality, and it’s better than I ever imagined. The mere concept of it is already changing the market, as our CEO, Jeff Ready, and Collier have gone around pitching it. But on the day it hits the streets (that’s today by the way), the impact will be immediate and the market will be forever changed.
I’ve seen it before and it’s something to be proud of. Regardless of the ultimate success or failure of Scale Computing, the market has been altered permanently by our vision and our presence.
My favorite quote about HC3 comes from the analyst report done by the Taneja Group: “This will change how IT is done.”
So Scalers, today is the day that we finally make the true vision of Scale a reality. Stand up, raise your glass and say, “Hell, yeah! We did it!”
Over the last 19 weeks, the engineering and QA teams have poured everything they have into HC3, and it’s an incredible product. I’ve been saying for years that my team is “all killer, no filler”, and “the best team I’ve ever worked with.” There should be no doubt about that now. If anything, my praise has been understated. Teams don’t get better than this.
In addition, everyone at Scale contributed to this in one way or another and for that I’d personally like to thank you all. I’ve been looking forward to this day for almost five years, and it really means a lot to me to see it happen.
Please complete the form below and someone from Scale Computing will be in contact with you within 24hrs.×