Monday, April 26, 2010

And now for something completely different

A month ago I left Rackspace to start Riptano, a Cassandra support and services company.

I was in the unusal position of being a technical person looking for a business-savvy co-founder. For whatever reason, the converse seems a lot more common. Maybe technical people tend to sterotype softer skills as being easy.

But despite some examples to the contrary (notably for me, Josh Coates at Mozy), I found that starting a company is too hard for just one person. Unfortunately, all of my fairly slim portfolio of business guys I'd like to co-found with were unavailable. So progress was slow, until Matt Pfeil heard that I was leaving Rackspace and drove to San Antonio from Austin to talk me out of it. Not only was he not successful in talking me out of leaving, but he ended up co-founding Riptano. And here we are, with a Riptano mini-faq.

Isn't Cassandra mostly just a web 2.0 thing for ex-mysql shops?

Although most of the early adopters fit this stereotype, we're seeing interest from a lot of Oracle users and a lot of industries. Unlike many "NoSQL" databases, Cassandra doesn't drop durability (the D in ACID), and besides scalability, enterprises are very interested in our support for multiple data centers and Hadoop analytics.

Are you going to fork Cassandra?

No. Although the ASF license allows doing basically anything with the code, including creating proprietary forks, we think the track record of this strategy in the open source database world is mixed at best.

We might create a (still open-source) Cassandra distribution similar to Cloudera's Distribution for Hadoop, but the mainline Cassandra development is responsive enough that there isn't as much need for a third party to do this as there is with Hadoop.

What does Rackspace think?

Rackspace has been the primary driver of Cassandra development recently, employing (until I left) the three most active committers on the project. For the same reasons Rackspace supported Cassandra to begin with, Rackspace is excited to see Riptano help take the Cassandra ecosystem to the next level. Rackspace has invested in Riptano and has been completely supportive in every way.

Where did you get the name "Riptano?" Does it mean anything?

We took a sophisticated, augmented AI approach. By which I mean, we took a program that generated random, pronouceable strings, and put together a couple fragments that sounded good together. (This is basically the same approach we took at Mozy, only there Josh insisted on a four letter domain name which narrowed it down a lot.)

I hope it doesn't mean "your dog has bad breath" somewhere.

And yes, Riptano is on twitter.

Are you hiring?

Yes. We'll have a jobs page on the site soon. In the meantime you can email me a resume if you can't wait. Prior participation in the Apache Cassandra project is of course a huge plus.


Tim Lesher said...

Great news--good luck with it!

Mike said...

Welcome to Entrepreneur Land.