Jelastic is a Multi-Cloud DevOps PaaS that helps ISPs, telcos, service providers, and enterprises to speed up development, reduce the cost of IT infrastructure, and improve uptime and security by automating the creation, scaling, clustering, and security updates of cloud-native and traditional applications. In this interview, Jelastic co-founder and CEO Ruslan Synytsky portrays the competitive landscape of the IT and cloud markets and invites smaller players to grow stronger together with Jelastic.
Please describe the story behind the company: What sparked the idea, and how has it evolved so far?
My co-founders and I started Jelastic about 10 years ago. As with any good product, we started by solving our own problem. At the time, I was a developer, programming solutions for different companies. Over time, I noticed there was a problem with tasks that sysadmins do, where as far as large-scale production goes, developers depend very much on them. If you develop something small, it’s fine to run it on a small web application, web server, or local computer, but when you deploy a larger scale production, or you want to deploy a new version you’ll need a staging and testing environment. Ten years ago, it was quite complex as we didn’t have the options we have today.
Originally, we built the framework for our own needs, so we can speed up the development process for our team. After we built the solution, we were able to get our jobs done faster, and it gave us the motivation to keep moving forward with the project.
The second big pain point we solved was the cost of infrastructure. Most cloud vendors require you to guess in advance how much resources you’re going to need. If your virtual machine doesn’t have enough resources, your server will be out of memory, and you will need more resources.
We realized that vertical scaling could be a solution that will lower the cost of cloud services, but it brings added complexity because you need to know how to scale specific applications, databases, and so on.
We introduced a model that is based on real consumption rather than on resource limits. This new approach lets you pay only for what you use. You don’t need to worry about how much resources you’re using, because you pay according to your consumption. So this is how we solved two major problems.
Back then, I spent my days working a full-time job and my nights building this project and setting up the team. After two years, we had a prototype to showcase at conferences. It was in one of those events that investors became interested in what we had built. In fact, they could not believe that two guys were able to build such a sophisticated solution. So they gave us some seed money and they helped us to build a commercial product.
Who is your typical client and what services you offer?
We don’t sell cloud services directly to end customers. Rather, we work with data center providers around the world.
The major cloud vendors today are US-based companies that control the market and are killing the smaller players by introducing brilliant new technologies. Customers are migrating from traditional hosting service providers to more advanced ones because it helps them to get better scalability, agility, and elasticity for the same price or less.
We decided to help hosting service providers from different countries by building software that can be installed on top of data centers so that service providers can offer this advanced software to their customers and compete against the big players in these challenging times.
The name Jelastic is an acronym for Java elastic. We started with Java. We knew from the beginning that we will go into all languages because we figured anticipated container-based solutions would become popular. 10 years ago, not many people even knew it existed, but we figured that this was a very good containment technology that can be utilized to improve the elasticity and scalability of cloud operations and can make resource usage cost-efficient. That is how we made Java elastic, but in the end, we also added PHP, Ruby, Node.js, and other languages.
We evolved from being a public cloud provider available from local hosting service providers, as we expanded our offering with private cloud (virtual and on-premise). Our platform can be installed on bare metal or different IaaS solutions from cloud vendors like AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, and likewise. Eventually, we decided to mix and match all of these together so we added hybrid cloud and multi-cloud to our offerings.
We do this because we want to serve different kinds of customers. Freedom of choice is the core idea that goes throughout the whole Jelastic technology and ecosystem. Customers can choose between various programming languages and software stacks, traditional and cloud-native deployment, stateful and stateless containers, hardware and data center locations, cloud hosting providers to get support, and so on.
Here’s a quick introduction to Jelastic’s dashboard:
What are some use case scenarios for Jelastic?
The first use case is entrepreneurs and startups at the prototyping stage. They have a new idea and they want to build a product quickly, with minimal investments. Jelastic is a good solution for them because it’s elastic. If your resource usage is low, you don’t pay much. You don’t need to have a big team to manage the infrastructure because Jelastic helps you to do more with fewer developers. You don’t need to deeply learn about clustering, continuous integration and delivery, and so on. Of course, you need to know how it works but Jelastic doesn’t require you to do things manually, so it saves a lot of time and effort.
The second use case is eCommerce projects. eCommerce requires strong servers that can run Magento, WooCommerce, and other similar services. Jelastic is a perfect solution because you can start with a small instance and pay very little, but whenever the traction grows, like on Black Friday, Jelastic will scale automatically to handle large traffic.
A more advanced use case is ISPs that develop software for their customers. It might be done through outsourcing companies and system integrators, or larger ISPs that offer their own software as a service. We see a very good trend now where companies transform from a license-based business model to software as a service (SaaS). Jelastic is a perfect solution here because you can place your UI on top of our API and build your own cloud-based service that is easily accessible in multiple regions.
Many of our customers are digital agencies. This direction is very popular now because many companies are moving to the digital era and they need help with this transformation. Digital agencies are helping them and they use Jelastic as a backend technology.
One more use case is about local hosting, as well as hybrid and multi-cloud availability. When people need to host the data inside a specific country or even on-premise, they look for solutions with advanced technology, but at the same time, it should be placed within their hardware or infrastructure. Different regulations may require to store part of the data on-premise instead of a public cloud, while frontend services need to be placed in the public cloud so they are closer to the end-users. Jelastic helps to mix and match the required workloads across various hosting service providers and cloud vendors, providing unified infrastructure management and multi-cloud interoperability.
In addition to our scalability, the Jelastic platform is a cloud management tool. It provides a simplified, intuitive UI where you don’t need to be very knowledgeable or experienced. You just click the buttons and get the environment up and running.
We also have a marketplace with pre-configured applications like WordPress, Magento, and others, that can be installed in one click and be ready with all the scaling and clustering options pre-configured. This kind of simplification of cloud management is one of the use cases that customers are seeking while choosing Jelastic.
How do you think emerging privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA are currently impacting your industry?
People now have a better knowledge of privacy. Businesses that work with personal data have more strict requirements than they did in the past, and I believe this will continue. Software products will be improved to help solve privacy issues. Encryption will be added by default so that even if data is stolen, it is useless to the attacker. Specific regulatory checks will be added as well and we’ll see new products in this direction. Also, I believe that more countries will introduce regulations similar to GDPR, and Brazil is just one of many examples.
When GDPR was launched, many customers came to us asking where their servers were, what kind of security protection had been established and what they should do. Of course, we went to all the vendors we buy services from and went through all of these questions with them to make sure we meet all the requirements.
As we are working with local hosting service providers in different countries, we were able to provide a solution for companies in European markets, who could no longer host their data on US-based servers due to GDPR. They had to change the location of their servers and therefore change their hosting providers. Many of them eventually decided to move to local vendors because they were compliant with GDPR and other privacy laws. So in this case, we helped companies to find local providers that offer advanced cloud technology, and at the same time provide the needed level of security.
Which trends and technologies do you find to be particularly intriguing these days?
Software is becoming easier for end-users but at the same time, it’s getting more complex on the back end, so more automation is required. This will lead to more demand in cloud management platforms to smoothly develop, scale and run applications. Platform as a Service (PaaS) will help to get jobs done faster with fewer team members.
Container technology will grow because it helps to reduce the cost of setup, scaling, deployment, and so on.
There is more and more interest in SasSification. Creators of open-source software realize that cloud vendors who make money by offering different technologies as a service are leaving the developers out of the game, so they try to get extra revenue by providing their own software as a service.
We will also see more multi-cloud options because privacy and freedom of choice might require platforms to migrate from one cloud to another, or distribute the workloads while having unified management tools.
I believe we will see a consolidation of the hosting industry. The smaller players will join the bigger players and hopefully, this will lead to the emergence of bigger and stronger European cloud vendors.