The founding features of ElectricAcceleratorMay 11, 2012 — David Rosen
Very recently Electric Cloud celebrated its 10th birthday as a company and I thought it’d be interesting to share some notes that I found in a office-cupboard summarizing 18 prospect interviews that were being conducted by our 2 founders John Ousterhout and John Graham-Cumming prior to actually founding the company, right in the aftermaths of the dotcom bubble.
These interviews were being done with large and small companies in Silicon Valley at that time and as you can imagine, the amount of change that’s happened in all of these companies are enormous. Some are no longer around due to acquisitions and other circumstances, but below are a couple of nostalgic anecdotes I thought was worth sharing with you:
• One truly innovative multidisciplinary company, today regarded as the global role-model for all Internet companies with some 33,000+ employees, had at the time of the interview 280 employees – where 100 of them were software engineers and apparently only 3 worked in QA!
• A major disruptive company in the virtualization business later acquired by EMC had at this time 60 engineers – current number that I’m able to research is some 9000 employees overall.
The Agile Manifesto had just been published in early 2001 and in these interview-notes, I cannot find any reference to common commodity terms and terminology such as Agile methodologies, Scrum, Kanban, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery. Yet when reading through the notes, I was surprised to find that many of the problems, concerns and issues that I hear about today with respect to Agile enablement blockers working with Electric Cloud prospects on a daily basis in my role as the ElectricAccelerator Product Manager very much were problems, concerns and issues already 10 years ago! Below are some quotes I picked up, pretty much summarizing the entire material of notes:
• “We’ve spent millions of dollars to make builds go faster, yet we are not satisfied”
• “We’re struggling to get releases out in time, often due to slow and unreliable builds”
• “My software builds are taking longer and longer, due to the proliferation of platforms I need to support and the staggering growth in complexity.”
• “If you could speed up my build by a factor of 10x, that would be huge!”
To quickly put this in perspective compared to the software development world of 2012, today I was in a partner discussion where we discussed a prospect in the automotive industry that had 8-9 hour long nightly builds and 20m+ developer incremental builds – clearly impacting engineering productivity and prohibiting other Agile development methodologies to efficiently be put in place.
Based on these interviews, our two founders compiled a graph illustrating the key prioritized features and value propositions that Electric Cloud should be founded to implement and realize, and I think this is pretty interesting to share with you:
So with Electric Cloud’s flagship product ElectricAccelerator that were designed and built to implement the above top features – where are we today, 10 years later?
• 10x faster builds, requested as a desired feature in almost 90% of the interviews: For the vast majority of our customers, a 10x improvement of their full build times is today commonplace. In fact, in quite a few of our customer deployments we know of acceleration factors exceeding 20, or even 30 and 40x. Last week I actually heard of the most extreme acceleration factor ever with ElectricAccelerator – a 72x speedup bringing a 36h+ build down to less than 30m!
• More platforms supported: To make sure our product is as compatible as possible for the marketplace, the ElectricAccelerator product team are constantly reviewing which platforms are mostly being used in the software industry and considering additional platforms to support. At the time of this writing, ElectricAccelerator runs on all supported Windows platforms, a number of Linux distributions including RedHat, SUSE and Ubuntu, and also on Solaris for both SPARC and x86. All in all, there are 14 major supported platforms that our automated build and QA lanes are covering daily!
• Better Dependency Tracking: One of the major key differentiating technologies of ElectricAccelerator from any other software build solution out there is its ability to detect, track, visualize and react to complete and guaranteed dependency information, without any timing overhead. This is also what enables the massive parallelization and distribution of builds that in turn realizes the dramatic speed improvements.
• Scheduling and Self-service builds: This is deliberately not a feature that ElectricAccelerator was originally designed for to implement, but given all the demand that the marketplace raised for the capability to automatically manage the end-to-end build-test-deploy workflow once the software build speed problem was pretty much solved, Electric Cloud decided to implement and introduce ElectricCommander.
Given this full coverage in terms of the top prioritized features that ElectricAccelerator was originally set out to implement, what are the next area of problems to address for the product? Based on all the user data and knowledge we’ve gathered over the years about software build environments in particular but also software development best practices in general, this was a pretty easy question to answer for me as the Product Manager of ElectricAccelerator: Optimize productivity and efficiency for each individual software developer in the context of a scaled out Agile development methodology, by revolutionizing the way software developer incremental builds are being done!
If you find this above statement interesting and would like to know more details, please don’t hesitate to contact me at drosen (a) electric-cloud.com. In the meantime, stay tuned!