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The Californians are coming

Nick Booth has just returned from the US where he got the chance to meet some of the firms setting their sights on the UK market

Damn those Californians! They can spot a new property, landgrab it and own it, before a UK start up can get a so-called ‘Dragon’ or ‘business angle’ to even return their phone call.

 That’s because their growth environment is so much more fertile. Theirs is a lush compost made of millions of shredded dollars and, more importantly, they have professional gardeners who nurture them, put them in the best light and point them in the right direction. These venture horticulturalists actually seem to love their creations and even regularly talk to them.

At Index Ventures in San Francisco, they actually have all their germinal start ups growing in their offices. Shardul Shah, the boss, is constantly talking to his creations and tending to them. He’s like Prince Charles in his greenhouse, only with more money.

Californian companies like Datadog, Hortonworks, Delphix, NuoDB, Solix Technologies, Arcitecta and AtScale get all the energy and financial liquidity they need. So it’ll be no surprise if they proliferate like Japanese knotweed and take over all the available pastures being watered by the cloud, from distributed data bases (NuoDB) to analysis and monitoring (Datadog) to data delivery (Delphix). HortonWorks has already colonized most of the world, but it’s still not profitable because every dollar or euro or rouble it makes is invested straight back into the push for world domination.

You can’t beat ‘em, dammit, so which one of this reverse colonisers should you take up as the channel? They’re all growing so fast they need UK partners.

Take, Datadog, which has invented a new way of monitoring systems and spotting glitches. The old monitoring methods were good enough when companies only changed their infrastructure twice a year. These days, when spinning up a server takes seconds, they’re likely to make that many upgrades before lunch time. But the number of servers that have to be scanned has gone from ten metal boxes to a thousands instances (you’re not even allowed to call them servers any more, for some reason).

To keep track of all the bezillions of virtual moving parts, Datadog has devised a system to get data from all the data from servers, tools, apps and databases and categorise them in a more sensible way. The re-engineering has obviously worked, because people are going mad for its Anomaly Detection systems. They’re hiring engineers in Paris and sales partners in London.

Across the valley Delphix has got a pretty solid use case. Now that data is big and all over the place, and being Dev-Oped into a thousand versions, the storage bills are crippling most companies. Even the developers are affected now, because they spend 70 per cent of their time preparing copies of data and administering it once they’ve started making their test systems. So Delphix created a system that sits between the silos of real data, and creates a compressed, de-duplicated superset version of it, that developers can use. This means developers can spend 70% of their time coding. It’s bad news for the storage vendors and resellers, because some clients free up as much as 3 Petabytes of storage. That’s going to disrupt certain vendor’s sales plans.

Thanks to Delphix storage is losing its importance in the IT industry – and thank goodness for that.

In another valley in California, Portola, we meet another of the companies plotting the demise of the storage salesman. Morgenthaler Ventures has invested millions in database start up NuoDB, which is a new type of database for the world of the cloud. It somehow maintains its integrity, despite the new cloud of data type database being a sort of shape shifting, omnipotent creature that can pop up on a silo here, and a CPU there, then be gone again in the blink of a switch. Explaining how it achieves this is far too complicated to enter into here, but the top line is that it’s different from all other databases. Firstly, because it can maintain it’s integrity without all the data being stuck on one machine, with a monolithic mode of action. Secondly, since it treats everything (processors, memory, storage) as a commodity it can use when it feels like, the system is completely unreliant on particular storage systems. So there is no value attached to storage at all, driving its price down to commodity levels.

Nobody has invented a database that can work across the cloud yet. The Gartner Group seems to think NuoDb has cracked it – it rated the vendor in its Magic Quadrant of vendors. The cloud is there to be colonized and NuoDB looks like a likely contender to take over the world. It’s looking for UK collaborators to help it think local as it goes global.   

Finally, an update on Branch Metrics, which we mentioned last month. It’s now got so much venture capital it’s putting up $10,000 for the most creative idea from a channel partner. Your idea should help it colonise all the indexes of the mobile web. To enter there are just six fields to fill on Branch’s online entry form on the web site. In terms of dollars per length of business proposal, that’s about as good as it gets! So there is some easy money available in the UK after all.

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