Earlier this month, cloud data warehouse Snowflake turned heads when it debuted on the stock market. Today, Altinity, the commercial company behind the open-source ClickHouse data warehouse, announced a $4 million seed round from Accel along with a new cloud service, Altinity.Cloud.
“Fundamentally, the company started out as an open-source services bureau offering support, training and [custom] engineering features into ClickHouse. And what we’re doing now with this investment from Accel is we’re extending it to offer a cloud platform in addition to the other things that we already have,” CEO Robert Hodges told TechCrunch.
As the company describes it, “Altinity.Cloud offers immediate access to production-ready ClickHouse clusters with expert enterprise support during every aspect of the application life cycle.” It also helps with application design and implementation and production assistance, in essence combining the consulting side of the house with the cloud service.
The company was launched in 2017 by CTO Alexander Zaitsev, who was one of the early adopters of ClickHouse. Up until now the startup has been bootstrapped with revenue from the services business.
Hodges came on board last year after a stint at VMware because he saw a company with tremendous potential, and his background in cloud services made him a good person to lead the company as it built the cloud product and moved into its next phase.
ClickHouse at its core is a relational database that can run in the cloud or on-prem with big improvements in performance, Hodges says. And he says that developers are enamored with it because you can start a project on a laptop and scale it up from there.
“We’re very simple to operate, just a single binary. You can start from a Docker image. You can run it anywhere, literally anywhere that Linux runs, from an Intel Nuc all the way up to clusters with hundreds of nodes,” Hodges explained.
The investment from Accel should help them finish building the cloud product, which has been in private beta since July, while helping them build a sales and marketing operation to help sell it to the target enterprise market. The startup currently has 27 people, with plans to hire 15 more.
Hodges says that he wants to build a diverse and inclusive company, something he says the tech industry in general has failed at achieving. He believes that one of the reasons for that is the requirement of a computer science degree, which he says has created “a gate for women and people of color,” and he thinks by hiring people with more diverse backgrounds, you can build a more diverse company.
“So one of the things that’s high up on my list is to get back to a more equitable and diverse population of people working on this thing,” he said.
Over time, the company sees the cloud business overtaking the consulting arm in terms of revenue, but that aspect of the business will always have a role in the revenue mix because this is complex by its nature, even with a cloud service.
“Customers can’t just do it entirely by having a push-button interface. They will actually need humans that work with them, and help them understand how to frame problems, help them understand how to build applications that take care of that […] And then finally, help them deal with problems that naturally arise when you’re when you’re in production,” he said.