Startup Showcase: Seattle-Based OblakSoft Simplifies Cloud Computing

May 28, 2012

2:00 pm

Bio: Artem Livshits is Founder, CEO, and Chief Technology Architect of OblakSoft, one of the startups featured at the recent Tech Cocktail Seattle mixer. He possesses 15+ years of experience architecting, designing and implementing fast, scalable, and robust mission-critical server software. Tech Cocktail caught up with the OblakSoft CEO to learn more about his company.

Tech Cocktail: What is OblakSoft and who is it for?

Artem Livshits: OblakSoft is a Seattle-based startup founded in Jan 2012. The company focuses on technologies that simplify adoption of cloud computing. OblakSoft’s key product is the Cloud Storage Engine (ClouSE) for MySQL. ClouSE is a transactional DBMS designed and optimized from ground up for the cloud. It allows MySQL-based applications to use the cloud storage as their primary storage.

Our customers are IT professionals, who could really benefit from using cloud, but don’t know how to bridge the gap between the applications they use and the services the cloud providers offer. It is both costly and risky to re-write applications and re-train developers to work with new cloud services. OblakSoft helps to start using cloud services with virtually no change. Using cloud vs. local storage for an application becomes a deployment option rather than the core design and architecture decision. We also take the risk out of cloud adoption as our customers can start adopting cloud gradually, and have a continuity of working configurations at all times.

Artem Livshits, Founder and CEO of OblakSoft

Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind OblakSoft?

Livshits: When cloud computing started to emerge, I got really excited about the possibilities that are unique to the cloud computing. I watched Microsoft and Amazon build their cloud computing offerings. Many cloud services are fantastic, but I did notice two common patterns: a) cloud services cannot be used by existing applications without significant changes (often amounting to a full rewrite); and b) users must expose their data to cloud providers in order to consume cloud services. Overcoming these obstacles is a very challenging engineering problem, the kind I enjoy the most.

So I took my experience of building extremely scalable, fast, and robust mission-critical server software, added my passion for solving tough technical problems, mixed in a lot of hard work, and started working on the Cloud Storage Engine. The rest is history.

Tech Cocktail: What is your greatest competitor and how does your service differentiate itself?

Livshits: ClouSE makes cloud storage a viable alternative to the local storage for MySQL applications. So my challenger is status-quo of the local storage – the same as the competitor of the cloud storage. In a way “good is the enemy of great.”

So what ClouSE tried to accomplish is to take the best of both worlds:

  • ClouSE brings the benefits that are unique to the cloud storage – such as high durability, high availability, high reliability, scale, infinite capacity, storage elasticity.
  • By hiding latency, network failures, and compressing the data, ClouSE equalizes the application performance on local and cloud storage.
  • By enabling transactional consistency on top of eventual consistency of the cloud storage, ClouSE provides familiar comfortable semantics of the local drive.
  • By encrypting the data before it leaves the webserver, ClouSE maintains data confidentiality just like the local storage does.

Tech Cocktail: What is the biggest advantage and disadvantage of starting up in Seattle?

Livshits: Seattle is motherland or step-motherland for software giants such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. The closeness to these software factories is the advantage and the disadvantage at the same time. It is the advantage because you have an opportunity to meet the actual people who designed and built many of the core technologies I rely on. For example, a few months ago Amazon held a meet-and-greet Amazon AWS event where I had very friendly conversations with the S3 developers: I learned about some technical aspects behind S3 that helped to validate my assumptions and grounded my implementation choices.

But being close to these large companies has a challenging side as well. Large sign-in bonuses, golden handcuffs of stock options, comfortable benefits, and variety of projects and technologies to work on makes my job of hiring great technical talent into a self-funded startup more difficult.

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When Zach Davis isn’t getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail’s Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.

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