After 8.5 years at Stack Overflow and 5 years of launching and building up Stack Overflow for Teams, I decided to step back and take a break, reconnect with NYC, read, cook, and of course, advise early stage startups trying to figure out their go-to-market and operational strategies.
A few months into my sabbatical, I sat down with Ed Sim from Boldstart Ventures to catch up. He told me about his new investment: env0. He raved about the founder, how the team had iterated on product as fast as anyone he’d seen, and how I needed to talk with him. Ed clearly saw that this got my wheels turning, and he connected me with env0’s CEO, Ohad Maislish over email within minutes of me leaving.
Ohad and my 45-minute meeting turned into two hours. I went home that afternoon and told my wife, “I’m pretty sure I just met the next founder I’m going to work with.” Luckily my instinct was correct, and I’m starting this week as the COO of env0 to partner with Ohad and Omry to help scale up the business.
While most IaC cloud management solutions today are basically just slightly improving old workflows, env0 is focused on where our cloud environment management problem is going: how do you give your entire team control over regularly changing (dynamic) environments? The existing toolset today just isn’t equipped for that because to deploy dynamic environments at scale your team needs to be able to provision them on their own while still maintaining centralized governance, security, and cost controls.
While at Stack Overflow, I worked with dozens of engineering leaders, from founders of small startups to the CTOs of the Fortune 50 — almost all of whom were working on scaling up their public cloud footprints. They all were faced with a central tension; they were excited moving faster and accessing new resources (not to mention the CapEx savings from not building data centers). Yet they were nervous about two things:
(2) How were they going to prevent massive cost overruns when people forget to tear down unused infrastructure and a single bad API call can cost you $3,000,000?
These conversations came rushing back to me the first time I heard Ohad talk about how we are in “the third datacenter revolution,” with infrastructure as code (IaC) revolutionizing the way that we manage our systems. While infrastructure as code is incredibly powerful for deploying and managing infrastructure itself, it’s a fundamentally technical framework that lacks a connection back to the business that you really care about. Security, cost management, standardization, all require third party tools — and those tools tend to be focused just on the SRE team. Everyone else ends up relying on submitting tickets just like they did when we were racking hardware in our own data centers. All of this leads to the slow, siloed, error prone processes that the engineering leaders I speak to are worried about.
Ohad was so passionate and focused on what he saw as the solution to the exact problem that I had heard SO MANY engineering leaders tell me about. He believes that giving developers the freedom to manage their environments with the appropriate governance, management, and visibility that CTOs and other engineering leaders need is the right balance between agility and control. He walked me through the history of the idea, how quickly they had iterated on the product, and how critical something like this was for delivering on the promise of the cloud and all the benefits of infrastructure as code. But most of all, I was struck at how much I wish I had had this exact product at Stack Overflow.
Soon after my first meeting with Ohad, I joined env0 as an advisor (well, after jumping on a plane to Israel to meet Ohad, Omry and the team in person to brainstorm about the product and the needs of the customers). As part my advisor role, I talked to dozens of companies who told me about the problems they were facing in scaling the management of their infrastructure, particularly for their dynamic or ephemeral environments. Several larger organizations who employed many hundreds or thousands of developers had even dedicated millions of dollars and entire internal teams to building out an env0 like solution to manage their entire developer workflow.
Instead of these capital and time intensive investments, env0, now in public beta, can provide them with a self-service interface. With it, SRE and DevOps folks can focus on higher value work (like actual engineering) instead of just answering tickets. Infrastructure teams can set up templates (using existing IaC) and securely vault secrets (like cloud keys), which are then permissioned out for use by the rest of the team in line with configured policies.
But control is only half the picture — companies also need to understand cloud spend. This usually requires arduous manual tagging of what projects and teams infrastructure was made for, and it is rarely accurate. Because env0 is running IaC templates for the org, it can programmatically tag all infrastructure and automatically report spend based on the environments, projects, and teams, helping companies better understand spend in terms of their business, not just cloud resources.
The need for self service has only become clearer in the last two months as everyone has been forced into remote teams with unpredictable schedules. Waiting on someone else to provision infrastructure just doesn’t cut it. And it’s not just developers who can benefit from this — our early users have found a wide range of valuable use cases across their teams, like automatically provisioning environments for every pull request or allowing salespeople to instantly provision their own demo environments.
I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity here, and I’m eager to help companies better understand, leverage, and control their growing cloud presences in our increasingly distributed world.
Of course I encourage you to give env0 a try! If you’d like to learn more first, schedule a demo with the team here. And when you try it out, please share your feedback with me! I’m @alexlmiller or email@example.com.