Bitnami's growth an indicator of continuing cloud dominance

Bitnami is making raw infrastructure smart. No wonder it's growing like weeds!

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I've written about Bitnami many times in the past. It's CEO, Erica Brescia, is one of a (sadly) small number of tech startup founders who happen to be women. And, while that makes a great headline or discussion point, it's Bitnami's success, outside of any gender-specific focus that really interests me.

Bitnami builds marketplaces that allow cloud vendors to offer the end-user application on top of their clouds. Bitnami is an application store for open source applications -- for end users, what this means is that on the cloud platforms that Bitnami is integrated with, they can deploy the open source application or development environment they want quickly and easily -- fully configured and ready to run.

Bitnami creates platform-specific images with all the dependencies and moving parts that the applications need. And what a list of applications that is, apps such as Wordpress, Drupal, SugarCRM, Alfresco, LAMP, Rails and much more are supported on Bitnami.

The company has been very successful in finding support from cloud vendors to integrate with. At the time of writing (and this is a list that seems to grow rapidly), Bitnami was available on AWS, Azure, Google, VMware, Oracle, CenturyLink, 1&1 and GoDaddy cloud platforms, which more reportedly on the way. On those platforms Bitnami is now the leading application provider, which points perhaps to the fact that cloud is now a mainstream occurrence -- meaning that end users with limited technical skills are using cloud platforms.

I caught up with Brescia recently to get an update on where the company was at -- it made a nice change from simply talking about the latest cloud platform Bitnami has managed to convert! The company has doubled both revenue and headcount year-on-year for the past two years and looks set to continue that way. Currently at 65 or so employees, Bitnami has been on a bit of a hiring spree and over the past six months or so and has made some high-profile hires:

  • Simon Bennett, VP of product, joined 18 months ago after a 3.5-year stint at VMware as the senior group product manager of VMware Fusion Professional, VMware Workstation, VMware Player and VMware Horizon FLEX
  • Rick Spencer, VP of engineering, joined in April after an 8-year stint at Canonical, where he built and managed the Ubuntu engineering team as the VP of Ubuntu
  • David Dennis, VP of marketing, joined after an 8-year stint at Groundwork (recently acquired), most recently as VP of marketing and product
  • Dale Brown, VP of business development for cloud platforms, joined after a 10-year stint at Verizon (came in via acquisition), most recently as GM of business development -- Verizon Cloud & IoT MarketPlaces
  • Philip Smith, CFO, has served as CFO to countless high-growth startups
  • Ian Kallen, senior director of IT operations, joined after a 2-year stint at Lithium (came in via acquisition) as director of engineering and platform services

All of these hires indicate something, and Brescia is pretty sure that it is a confidence in the company's ability to continue growing and taking advantage of increasing cloud adoption.

As Brescia sees it, a consensus seems to be building that has helped bring on new partners -- today, vendors realize "empty cloud syndrome" is a problem; it's no longer acceptable to launch a cloud without ready-to-go application content. At the same time as wanting actual application to be available in their clouds, the vendors are understanding the importance and value in ensuring applications are easy to deploy and kept up to date as quickly as possible.

Bitnami seems to have developed a well-regarded reputation as a trusted source of constantly maintained application images -- the fact that they seem to have secured virtually every major cloud vendor indicates that, at least to an extent, they are seen as something of a standard. As newer cloud vendors arise, there is some value in being able to say that their application stacks are provided by the same company that offers them to all the well-known clouds.

The fact that Bitnami has done this outside of the normal model of venture funding and multiple rounds of investment is particularly impressive. Other than a very small friends and family round a few years ago (which, Brescia tells me, is still sitting in the bank) the company has had no external investment.

It's great to see a company quietly going about its job of executing -- Bitnami has always been, and continues to be, one to watch.

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