Editor’s note: In our series of articles discussing predictions for 2016, we also took a look back at what was notable in 2015. We asked several executives in the software industry for their opinions regarding the following question:
Q. Imagine that you have a time capsule to fill. What is the most important news item about a software company that occurred in 2015 that belongs in the capsule, and why?
Ron Bianchini, co-founder, president and CEO, Avere Systems – “I think the most important technology news story in 2015 was the $67 billion Dell and EMC merger. They’re pitching themselves as an alternative to the public cloud, and I think in the future that this moment will be looked upon as the “data center’s last stand” to public cloud providers. No matter how it plays out, I believe this will be seen as a pivotal moment in the history of enterprise technology.”
Sujatha Kashyap, VP of technology, Robin Systems – “The rise of Docker. When you look at the convergence of factors precipitating large-scale change in the IT industry, Docker is uniquely positioned to be a key piece of the IT puzzle going forward. It has developed a unique mix of grassroots enthusiasts and corporate backing that makes it a very exciting technology to watch as it transforms from T-shirts to suits. This technology has the power to radically change the way applications are delivered, and their life cycle managed.
If you look at enterprise IT’s pain points today, many of them converge around the existence of “snowflake” deployments, where each environment that an application is deployed is only ever so slightly different enough from the others to cause maintenance nightmares. Docker’s ability to package all of an application’s dependencies into a self-contained runtime environment makes it a powerful tool with which to combat configuration sprawl. This is a defining paradigm shift in application deployments.”
Al Ramadan, Chris Lochhead and Dave Peterson; co-founders and partners, Play Bigger Advisors –“Google Alphabet. Like the 1980s rock bands that used to play stadiums and now headline county fairs — any Loverboy fans still around? — the technology industry is littered with elderly Category Kings who cease to create breakthrough products and categories and lose relevancy over time. Page and Brin are clearly trying to avoid this fate.
In this context, Alphabet can be seen as a way to break the newer parts free from the gravity of the colossal search business, increasing their odds of independent success. Nest, led by the entrepreneurial CEO Tony Fadell, is a clear example. If it works, Google could become a Category Kingmaker, while growing the core Google business at the same time. If that happens, we’ll be talking about Google for decades to come. If it doesn’t — well, there are always those county fairs.”
Andrew Atkinson, senior director of product marketing, Cloud Cruiser – “The 2015 event that will have the most resonance years into the future is the Dell-EMC merger. This deal is a marker for a major inflection point in the software market, even though it involves two companies that we primarily think of as hardware providers. The reason this deal is important from the perspective of the software industry is that it marks the end of datacenter-centric IT that was the inheritor of the client-server revolution of the late 1980s / early 1990s. Although Web-based applications came to dominate software solutions throughout the 2000s, the Dell-EMC deal (including, not unimportantly, the Virtustream cloud strategy) demonstrates clearly that the environment for enterprise software is irrevocably changing, driven by the advent of distributed application architectures, the accelerating pace of business and the rise of the cloud.”
Darren Cunningham, vice president of marketing, SnapLogic – “The resurgence of Microsoft as a cloud company was big news in 2015. Under the leadership of Satya Nadella, the company has once again become relevant, despite a continued decline in PC sales. On its most recent earnings call, financial analysts noted that, “cloud is the epicenter of the growth story,” which represents the ultimate tipping point for enterprise cloud computing adoption.”
Joan Wrabetz, CTO, QualiSystems – “Software companies raising $100 million! I believe some new companies to watch in 2016 will include those who raised a bunch of money in 2015 like Puppet Labs and Mirantis.”
Avinash Lakshman, CEO and founder, Hedvig – “I’d love to say the top news was our company launching from stealth, which we did back in March. But we were easily topped by some big news from EMC – and I’m not talking about the Dell merger. The important news from 2015 came from EMCWorld 2015. See, EMC makes the lion’s share of its revenue selling hardware solutions, yet they proclaimed on stage at EMCWorld that software is the way of the future. We were in attendance, and it was a see-it-to-believe-it moment, as it validates where the market is going.”
Mike Rozlog, CEO, dbase – “The HP split. Splitting the company into two very different businesses will have lasting effects on the market. I see the PC and printers spinoff possibly getting picked up by another firm, which will be the effective end of that line and history for the once-lauded hardware division. HP Enterprise will focus on the much more lucrative enterprise space.”
Andrew Atkinson is senior director of product marketing at Cloud Cruiser where he has responsibility for working with engineering, product management and sales teams to bring products successfully to market. He has proven ability to achieve and act upon a deep understanding of customers, markets and competitors. Previously at E2open, he has more than two decades of startup, international and IPO experience with various software companies.
Ron Bianchini is co-founder, president and CEO at Avere Systems. Prior to Avere, he was a senior vice president at NetApp, where he served as the leader of the NetApp Pittsburgh Technology Center. Before NetApp, he was CEO and co-founder of Spinnaker Networks, which developed the scale-out storage clustering technology acquired by NetApp. He was also vice president of product architecture at FORE Systems and co-founder of Scalable Networks (acquired by FORE).
Sujatha Kashyap is VP of technology at Robin Systems. She spent 13+ years understanding every aspect of performance across enterprise-class workloads, from impacts of micro-architectural trade-offs to complex interactions between data center components. She led benchmark publications for several generations of IBM servers and resolved critical performance problems at Fortune 500 companies. She worked with marquee names in the financial industry to create extreme-performance solutions for high-frequency trading. She holds 11 patents. Connect with Sujatha on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Avinash Lakshman is CEO and founder of Hedvig. He founded Hedvig in 2012 after co-inventing Dynamo while at Amazon (2004-2007) and Cassandra at Facebook (2007-2011).
Al Ramadan, Christopher Lochhead and Dave Peterson are co-founding partners at Play Bigger Advisors, a San Francisco-based category design firm that coaches technology executives to build market-leading companies. Follow them on Twitter.
Mike Rozlog’s 20-year software and technology industry experience brought him to dBase as the CEO to build the next-generation business intelligence products and data management tools. He is a dynamic leader known for driving innovation, product development, market analysis and product evangelism efforts. He has hands-on technical experience across architecture, enterprise and commercial software development. Contact him at email@example.com.
Joan Wrabetz is CTO for QualiSystems. Earlier she was VP/CTO for EMC’s emerging product division. Joan has over 20 years’ technology executive experience. She was founder/CEO of Aumni Data, CEO of Tricord Systems (now Adaptec), VP/GM at StorageTek, founder/CEO of Aggregate Computing (now Platinum Technologies) and held management positions at Control Data Corporation and SRI International. She was a BlueStream Ventures partner, on the board of many startups and holds multiple tech patents.