Infrastructure as code (IaC) has been gaining wider adoption among DevOps teams in recent years, but the complexities of data center configuration and management continue to create problems — and opportunities.
We surveyed top investors in IaC startups to find out more.
Overall, they see a lot of room for growth given all of the manual work still done by DevOps teams across organizations of all sizes.
However, IaC itself requires highly trained engineers to implement and manage within organizations, and there’s a shortage of software infrastructure engineers with IaC skills. This could favor IaC startups that are trying to offer complete solutions to customers.
At the same time, some large companies will continue to manage data centers internally and thus build out automation internally instead of with outside startups.
We spoke to:
- Sheila Gulati, managing director, Tola Capital
- S. Somasegar, managing director, Madrona Venture Group
- Aaron Jacobson, partner, New Enterprise Associates
- Sri Pangulur, partner, Tribe Capital
- Teddie Wardi, managing director, Insight Partners
- Tim Tully, partner, Menlo Ventures
Sheila Gulati, managing director, Tola Capital
Can infrastructure as code be the solution for the implementation and configuration of servers, similar to how cloud was the solution for physical servers? Which areas do you think IaC’s capability to set up any cloud resource will be most used?
The world of the modern cloud has shifted how we think about infrastructure altogether. We live in a multicloud and many-cloud world and these paradigms are redefining the modern cloud era. IaC can be used for any type of cloud workload or architecture, but it is a necessity for anyone building on the modern cloud. This is especially true for modern cloud architectures such as serverless applications, containerized applications running Kubernetes, AI/ML and more. Modern cloud architectures provide many benefits such as increased innovation, faster time to market, improved reliability and reduced costs. However, this has increased the burden of managing cloud infrastructure. The number of cloud services available is growing every year and modern architectures are composed of many loosely coupled, interdependent services and APIs. The result is that the number of cloud resources that people must manage is going up at a tremendous pace. The only way to manage this complexity is with IaC.
Today, we are seeing a new generation of IaC platforms that are designed from the ground up to meet the demands of the modern cloud. For example, Pulumi and its cloud engineering platform is helping infrastructure teams and developers tame cloud complexity by enabling them to write code in the languages that they know and love, and use software engineering practices to build, deploy and manage cloud infrastructure. In contrast to legacy IaC tools that use domain specific languages, modern IaC platforms give practitioners the full power of programming languages, which make it easier to manage the complex interdependencies of modern cloud applications. They allow developers to use existing software development tools, including IDEs, package managers and test frameworks, which enable them to build faster and reuse best practices, while testing more frequently.
Do you see IaC’s ability to streamline processes attracting startups in competitive sectors looking to get their product across the line first?
Yes. The companies in our portfolio who have embraced IaC and cloud engineering principles are also the ones most intent on rapid product development and streamlining their ability to bring new products to market faster. This requires investment in engineering talent, the platform and engineering practices.
It is important to take advantage of new cloud innovation to accelerate innovation and leverage IaC to more build products to efficiently meet customer needs. To support this it is critical for there to be partnership across providers within the IaC space to deliver the components that work together to support engineering teams.
Furthermore, we have seen teams that lean into more modern development platforms able to hire better developers more easily — a concern of every tech company today. The cultures that are more dev-forward and that are truly embracing the shift-left movement are where the best developers want to work!
Why are companies hesitant to adopt infrastructure as code? Can you outline the different ways IaC providers can market themselves to build their appeal?
IaC should be the obvious choice for any company that’s interested in delivering cloud applications at scale, reliably, and at high velocity. The concerns of the past are now obsolete. However, companies may hesitate to adopt it due to the cultural and process changes required, the risks of migrating an existing application, or they may not have the right skills on their team. In the past, we also had IaC platforms that required the use of domain-specific languages. All of this taken together can make the ramp to productivity seem steep.