Apr
13
2021
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Meroxa raises $15M Series A for its real-time data platform

Meroxa, a startup that makes it easier for businesses to build the data pipelines to power both their analytics and operational workflows, today announced that it has raised a $15 million Series A funding round led by Drive Capital. Existing investors Root, Amplify and Hustle Fund also participated in this round, which together with the company’s previously undisclosed $4.2 million seed round now brings total funding in the company to $19.2 million.

The promise of Meroxa is that businesses can use a single platform for their various data needs and won’t need a team of experts to build their infrastructure and then manage it. At its core, Meroxa provides a single software-as-a-service solution that connects relational databases to data warehouses and then helps businesses operationalize that data.

Image Credits: Meroxa

“The interesting thing is that we are focusing squarely on relational and NoSQL databases into data warehouse,” Meroxa co-founder and CEO DeVaris Brown told me. “Honestly, people come to us as a real-time FiveTran or real-time data warehouse sink. Because, you know, the industry has moved to this [extract, load, transform] format. But the beautiful part about us is, because we do change data capture, we get that granular data as it happens.” And businesses want this very granular data to be reflected inside of their data warehouses, Brown noted, but he also stressed that Meroxa can expose this stream of data as an API endpoint or point it to a Webhook.

The company is able to do this because its core architecture is somewhat different from other data pipeline and integration services that, at first glance, seem to offer a similar solution. Because of this, users can use the service to connect different tools to their data warehouse but also build real-time tools on top of these data streams.

Image Credits: Meroxa

“We aren’t a point-to-point solution,” Meroxa co-founder and CTO Ali Hamidi explained. “When you set up the connection, you aren’t taking data from Postgres and only putting it into Snowflake. What’s really happening is that it’s going into our intermediate stream. Once it’s in that stream, you can then start hanging off connectors and say, ‘Okay, well, I also want to peek into the stream, I want to transfer my data, I want to filter out some things, I want to put it into S3.’ ”

Because of this, users can use the service to connect different tools to their data warehouse but also build real-time tools to utilize the real-time data stream. With this flexibility, Hamidi noted, a lot of the company’s customers start with a pretty standard use case and then quickly expand into other areas as well.

Brown and Hamidi met during their time at Heroku, where Brown was a director of product management and Hamidi a lead software engineer. But while Heroku made it very easy for developers to publish their web apps, there wasn’t anything comparable in the highly fragmented database space. The team acknowledges that there are a lot of tools that aim to solve these data problems, but few of them focus on the user experience.

Image Credits: Meroxa

“When we talk to customers now, it’s still very much an unsolved problem,” Hamidi said. “It seems kind of insane to me that this is such a common thing and there is no ‘oh, of course you use this tool because it addresses all my problems.’ And so the angle that we’re taking is that we see user experience not as a nice-to-have, it’s really an enabler, it is something that enables a software engineer or someone who isn’t a data engineer with 10 years of experience in wrangling Kafka and Postgres and all these things. […] That’s a transformative kind of change.”

It’s worth noting that Meroxa uses a lot of open-source tools but the company has also committed to open-sourcing everything in its data plane as well. “This has multiple wins for us, but one of the biggest incentives is in terms of the customer, we’re really committed to having our agenda aligned. Because if we don’t do well, we don’t serve the customer. If we do a crappy job, they can just keep all of those components and run it themselves,” Hamidi explained.

Today, Meroxa, which the team founded in early 2020, has more than 24 employees (and is 100% remote). “I really think we’re building one of the most talented and most inclusive teams possible,” Brown told me. “Inclusion and diversity are very, very high on our radar. Our team is 50% black and brown. Over 40% are women. Our management team is 90% underrepresented. So not only are we building a great product, we’re building a great company, we’re building a great business.”  

Apr
06
2021
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Okta launches a new free developer plan

At its Oktane21 conference, Okta, the popular authentication and identity platform, today announced a new — and free — developer edition that features fewer limitations and support for significantly more monthly active users than its current free plan.

The new ‘Okta Starter Developer Edition,’ as it’s called, allows developers to scale up to 15,000 monthly active users — up from only 1,000 on its existing free plan. In addition, the company is also launching enhanced documentation, a set of sample apps and new SDKs, which now cover languages and frameworks like Go, Java, JavaScript, Python, Vue.js, React Native and Spring Boot.

“Our overall philosophy isn’t, ‘we want to just provide […] a set of authentication and authorization services.’ The way we’re looking at this is, ‘hey, app developer, how do we provide you the foundation you need to get up and running quickly with authorization and authentication as one part of it,’ ” Diya Jolly, Okta’s chief product officer, told me. And she believes that Okta is in a unique position to do so, because it doesn’t only offer tools to manage authorization and access, but also systems for securing microservices and providing applications with access to privileged resources.

Image Credits: Okta

It’s also worth noting that, while the deal hasn’t closed yet, Okta’s intent to acquire Auth0 significantly extends its developer strategy, given Auth0’s developer-first approach.

As for the expanded free account, Jolly noted that the company found that developers wanted to be able to access more of the service’s features during their prototyping phases. That means the new free Developer Edition comes with support for multi-factor authentication, machine-to-machine tokens and B2B integrations, for example, in addition to expanded support for integrations into toolchains. As is so often the case with enterprise tools, the free edition doesn’t come with the usual enterprise support options and has lower rate limits than the paid plans.

Still, and Jolly acknowledged this, a small to medium-sized business may be able to build applications and take them into production based on this new free plan.

“15K [monthly active users] is is a lot, but if you look at our customer base, it’s about the right amount for the smaller business applications, the real SMBs, and that was the goal. In a developer motion, you want people to try out things and then upgrade. I think that’s the key. No developer is going to come and build with you if you don’t have a free offering that they can tinker around and play with.”

Image Credits: Okta

She noted that the company has spent a lot of time thinking about how to support developers through the application development lifecycle overall. That includes better CLI tools for developers who would rather bypass Okta’s web-based console, for example, and additional integrations with tools like Terraform, Kong and Heroku. “Today, [developers] have to stitch together identity and Okta into those experiences — or they use some other identity — we’ve pre-stitched all of this for them,” Jolly said.

The new Okta Starter Developer Edition, as well as the new documentation, sample applications and integrations, are now available at developer.okta.com.

Jun
04
2019
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How Kubernetes came to rule the world

Open source has become the de facto standard for building the software that underpins the complex infrastructure that runs everything from your favorite mobile apps to your company’s barely usable expense tool. Over the course of the last few years, a lot of new software is being deployed on top of Kubernetes, the tool for managing large server clusters running containers that Google open sourced five years ago.

Today, Kubernetes is the fastest growing open-source project and earlier this month, the bi-annual KubeCon+CloudNativeCon conference attracted almost 8,000 developers to sunny Barcelona, Spain, making the event the largest open-source conference in Europe yet.

To talk about how Kubernetes came to be, I sat down with Craig McLuckie, one of the co-founders of Kubernetes at Google (who then went on to his own startup, Heptio, which he sold to VMware); Tim Hockin, another Googler who was an early member on the project and was also on Google’s Borg team; and Gabe Monroy, who co-founded Deis, one of the first successful Kubernetes startups, and then sold it to Microsoft, where he is now the lead PM for Azure Container Compute (and often the public face of Microsoft’s efforts in this area).

Google’s cloud and the rise of containers

To set the stage a bit, it’s worth remembering where Google Cloud and container management were five years ago.

Jul
23
2014
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DBaaS, OpenStack and Trove 101: Introduction to the basics

We’ll be publishing a series of posts on OpenStack and Trove over the next few weeks, diving into their usage and purpose. For readers who are already familiar with these technologies, there should be no doubt as to why we are incredibly excited about them, but for those who aren’t, consider this a small introduction to the basics and concepts.

What is Database as a Service (DBaaS)?
In a nutshell, DBaaS – as it is frequently referred to – is a loose moniker to the concept of providing a managed cloud-based database environment accessible by users, applications or developers. Its aim is to provide a full-fledged database environment, while minimizing the administrative turmoil and pains of managing the surrounding infrastructure.

Real life example: Imagine you are working on a new application that has to be accessible from multiple regions. Building and maintaining a large multiregion setup can be very expensive. Furthermore, it introduces additional complexity and strain on your system engineers once timezones start to come into play. The challenge of having to manage machines in multiple datacenters won’t simplify your release cycle, nor increase your engineers’ happiness.

Let’s take a look at some of the questions DBaaS could answer in a situation like this:

– How do I need to size my machines, and where should I locate them?
Small environments require less computing power and can be a good starting point, although this also means they may not be as well-prepared for future growth. Buying larger-scale and more expensive hardware and hosting can be very expensive and can be a big stumbling block for a brand new development project. Hosting machines in multiple DC’s could also introduce administrative difficulties, like having different SLA’s and potential issues setting up WAN or VPN communications. DBaaS introduces an abstraction layer, so these consideration aren’t yours, but those of the company offering it, while you get to reap all the rewards.

– Who will manage my environment from an operational standpoint?
Staffing considerations and taking on the required knowledge to properly maintain a production database are often either temporarily sweeped under the rug or, when the situation turns out badly, a cause for the untimely demise of quite a few young projects. Rather than think about how long ago you should have applied that security patch, wouldn’t it be nice to just focus on managing the data itself, and be otherwise confident that the layers beyond it are managed responsibly?

– Have a sudden need to scale out?
Once you’re up and running, enjoying the success of a growing use base, your environment will need to scale accordingly. Rather than think long and hard on the many options available, as well as the logistics attached to those changes, your DBaaS provider could handle this transparently.

Popular public options: Here are a few names of public services you may have come across already that fall under the DBaaS moniker:

– Amazon RDS
– Rackspace cloud databases
– Microsoft SQLAzure
– Heroku
– Clustrix DBaaS

What differentiates these services from a standard remote database is the abstraction layer that fully automates their backend, while still offering an environment that is familiar to what your development team is used to (be it MySQL, MongoDB, Microsoft SQLServer, or otherwise). A big tradeoff to using these services is that you are effectively trusting an external company with all of your data, which might make your legal team a bit nervous.

Private cloud options?
What if you could offer your team the best of both worlds? Or even provide a similar type of service to your own customers? Over the years, a lot of platforms have been popping up to allow effective management and automation of virtual environments such as these, allowing you to effectively “roll your own” DBaaS. To get there, there are two important layers to consider:

  • Infrastructure Management, also referred to as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), focusing on the logistics of spinning up virtual machines and keeping their required software packages running.
  • Database Management, previously referred to DBaaS, transparently coordinating multiple database instances to work together and present themselves as a single, coherent data repository.

Examples of IaaS products:
– OpenStack
– OpenQRM

Ecample of DBaaS:
– Trove

Main Advantages of DBaaS
For reference, the main reasons why you might want to consider using an existing DBaaS are as follows:

Reduced Database management costs

DBaaS removes the amount of maintenance you need to perform on isolated DB instances. You offload the system administration of hardware, OS and database to either a dedicated service provider, or in the case where you are rolling your own, allow your database team to more efficiently manage and scale the platform (public vs private DBaaS).

– Simplifies certain security aspects

If you are opting to use a DBaaS platform, the responsibility of worrying about this or that patch being applied falls to your service provider, and you can generally assume that they’ll keep your platform secure from the software perspective.

– Centralized management

One system to rule them all. A guarantee of no nasty surprises concerning that one ancient server that should have been replaced years ago, but you never got around to it. As a user of DBaaS, all you need to worry about is how you interface with the database itself.

– Easy provisioning

Scaling of the environment happens transparently, with minimal additional management.

– Choice of backends

Typically, DBaas providers offer you the choice of a multitude of database flavors, so you can mix and match according to your needs.

Main Disadvantages
– Reduced visibility of the backend

Releasing control of the backend requires a good amount of trust in your DBaaS provider. There is limited or no visibility into how backups are run and maintained, which configuration modifications are applied, or even when and which updates will be implemented. Just as you offload your responsibilities, you in turn need to rely on an SLA contract.

– Potentially harder to recover from catastrophic failures

Similarly to the above, unless your service providers have maintained thorough backups on your behalf, the lack of direct access to the host machines means that it could be much harder to recover from database failure.

– Reduced performance for specific applications

There’s a good chance that you are working on a shared environment. This means the amount of workload-specific performance tuning options is limited.

– Privacy and Security concerns

Although it is much easier to maintain and patch your environment. Having a centralized system also means you’re more prone to potential attacks targeting your dataset. Whichever provider you go with, make sure you are intimately aware of the measures they take to protect you from that, and what is expected from your side to help keep it safe.

Conclusion: While DBaaS is an interesting concept that introduces a completely new way of approaching an application’s database infrastructure, and can bring enterprises easily scalable, and financially flexible platforms, it should not be considered a silver bullet. Some big tradeoffs need to be considered carefully from the business perspective, and any move there should be accompanied with careful planning and investigation of options.

Embracing the immense flexibility these platforms offer, though, opens up a lot of interesting perspectives too. More and more companies are looking at ways to roll their own “as-a-Service”, provisioning completely automated hosted platforms for customers on-demand, and abstracting their management layers to allow them to be serviced by smaller, highly focused technical teams.

Stay tuned: Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing a series of posts focusing on the combination of two technologies that allow for this type of flexibility: OpenStack and Trove.

The post DBaaS, OpenStack and Trove 101: Introduction to the basics appeared first on MySQL Performance Blog.

May
13
2014
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Heroku And Salesforce Aim To Link Business Process and Customer Experience

Two men talking at CEBIT Australia at Salesforce.com booth. Salesforce announced today that it was releasing two new products to help ease the integration between Heroku mobile development tools and Salesforce 1. The new products should make it easier to create applications in Heroku and review data in almost real time as users interact with mobile apps.
The first piece is called Salesforce 1 Heroku Connect. The second is the Salesforce 1 Connected… Read More

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