How Dyn is rising to the cloud challenge

Dyn Chairman Jim Baum on internet performance management’s role in hybrid and public cloud migration, addressing needs of blurring IT and business sides

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You’re right. There are a lot of companies that compete in one form or another but if you look at the integration of analytics and visibility through II and then managed DNS and then the data that enables it all, we stand [alone] in this space. When you look at the larger players who are doing load balancing, we see, for example, an F5 with a large install base. We see companies like Riverbed. We see other companies who are in one facet of the business but we don’t see a lot of players yet who have put all the pieces together to proactively control how traffic is managed on the internet through a data asset as well as a steering mechanism.

Is there a single company out there that’s more of a cloud-based management company, a next-generation company that you see as similar or more competitive?

Not yet. We’re starting to see some of the larger vendors look at this space. IPM is a natural extension of the existing categories of network performance management and application performance management. You’re starting to hear some discussion from some players who want to migrate outside the firewall into managing and controlling traffic over the internet. What we don’t see in the market right now is anyone who has put the pieces together in a way that gives you the data asset.

Again, we have this nice asset of 15 years and a lot of customers who are generating data, relationships with transit providers and others that give us traffic data, BGP data and others. We feel like we’re very well positioned competitively as the company that’s uniquely put the pieces together. But there are players out there who are doing managed DNS as a service. There are players out there who are doing some of the network visibility stuff as a service. We just feel that we still stand very uniquely as having put those three elements together.

As you mentioned, many companies are embracing a hybrid cloud model. In that environment, are you pitching your products as a replacement for traditional management tools or an augmentation of what they already have in place?

Largely an augmentation. Hybrid cloud is probably the number one enterprise use case we see today. Customers have tools in place to manage infrastructure in their data centers and, in many cases, we have relationships where our data is sold as a service to augment the capabilities of their console and monitoring tools. Then, outside the firewall, we’re an augmentation strategy that allows them to understand the next level of how their applications are being deployed. It’s a cooperative relationship with many of the existing providers because the data we have allows them to have more visibility even from inside the firewall.

You mentioned this a moment ago but a number of these folks, traditional management vendors, are trying to make the leap beyond the firewall. Do you think they’ll be successful at it? What holds them back?

IPM is going to be a very big market opportunity and we’re starting to see other vendors begin to position capabilities in the space. The interesting question is what are the barriers to entry that providers will have to overcome to get into this space? Dyn’s capability with DNS and traffic steering through DNS is tried and true, it’s proven. We’re the number one managed DNS provider in the world. We have many, many customers that are doing it, so there’s a very strong, resilient infrastructure that is resistant to the DDoS attacks that people are experiencing, that is able to survive through those kinds of events as well as able to steer and control traffic based on policy. That’s hard to build. That’s one asset.

The other asset, the data collection capability, is also hard to reproduce. There are about a million customers of Dyn, all of which help feed our data assets. Those coupled with sets of relationships of data collectors in strategically located places around the world again, I think, create a significant barrier to entry into this space. Will they be successful? The large vendors who want to play in a market find ways to be successful, and so I’m sure over the next couple of years we’re going to see a very interesting set of market dynamics around internet performance management. You’re going to see the larger players taking a very active interest.

Analytics and the Business Side

You had great success in your previous role as CEO of Netezza. What did you learn from the data analytics world that’s shaping the work you’re doing at Dyn?

One of the main things you learn from the data analytics world is that analytics absolutely need to be applied to a very tangible value proposition. Sometimes, people get very excited about big data and big data analytics and all the interesting things we can do with machine learning and technology. At the end of the day, the most important thing is how that is applied. That is where value is created for the end customer.

We’re approaching customers from the standpoint of understanding their business and using the analytics, data collection and steering capabilities to drive a tangible value proposition which manifests either in the form of increased revenue or reduced cost. One of the big learnings from living in the analytics world is that figuring out how to monetize the value of, let’s say, performance is critically important. That’s something we did very well at Netezza, something we did very well at Endeca. It really forces you to figure out how your technology intersects with the business workflows and processes and creates value in them.

We’ve talked to lots of management tool vendors over the years and one of the things they always promise is that they’ll be useful both to the IT side and the business side. Can you see the intelligence and the information that’s being created by your tools would actually be used by line of business executives? Is that a goal?

I see more and more in the enterprise that the “IT side” and “business side” lines are blurring. We see that in the DevOps environment. The DevOps guys are the new power brokers in the enterprise. The traditional IT data center stuff is obviously mission-critical but when you look at where applications are being deployed in enterprises, they are being stood up and deployed by DevOps people who, in many cases, are operating in the line of business as opposed to in centralized IT functions.

Do I see the vice president of marketing at a large enterprise interacting directly with Dyn tools? Not necessarily. Do I see the marketing function or the selling function driving the acquisition of capabilities that can be enabled by Dyn products? Absolutely yes, I see it already. The interesting thing about that from the vendors’ perspective is it really does cement the direct linkage between creating business value in the form of reduced cost or increased revenue and the deployment of a technology. You can look at tools like Dyn and that’s pretty low on the stack.

DNS is something everybody takes for granted. In reality, we’re able to show how you can monetize the value of performance and resiliency and that gives us a very important lever to speak to the line of business. Like I said, I don’t necessarily imagine the line of business user interacting with the Dyn console but I absolutely imagine and see today the line of business user driving the acquisition of Dyn tools.

The other thing we know about management tools is that in a great many cases, they’re either not used or they’re not fully used because they’re difficult or they don’t do what they promised. What have you done from the user interface, user experience perspective to actually make sure that these are tools that people can use on a day-to-day basis and derive real value?

It’s a question I love because I think there are a couple of different issues we need to talk about as well as some specific things related to Dyn. More and more people are suffering from tool overload. You say people don’t use the tools because they don’t deliver on what they say. I think there’s some truth to that. I also, however, think that tools don’t get fully leveraged because they have too many of them. We just have too many management consoles for controlling our app environments. We have too many consoles for understanding how our network is performing.

One of the very important trends here is the idea of a more integrated view of the overall application performance environment inside the firewall as well as outside the firewall. One of the things Dyn has focused on is making tools available as services and making data available as services so that other tools, be they custom home-built tools or be they other commercial providers, can leverage the Dyn capabilities. Making sure that it’s available as a service within existing infrastructure.

The other important element is how do you deal with the user experience of the tool set itself? We are really focusing on the user experience in the context of the value proposition. How do I evaluate, understand, procure, deploy and provision internet infrastructure? We’re building UX and workflows that tie together data, bringing in data at the right point in the workflow so that the person can have the context that’s required to make the decision that they’re trying to make. We’re building it in the context of an integrated platform that ties together data, analytics, DNS, traffic steering policy and so on in a common user experience so that you’re not jumping from area to area. That’s a major thrust for Dyn right now, to tie that user experience together in a cohesive manner as well as making all of those tools available as services to other application environments.

The capabilities you offer seem like they would be great tools for cloud and service providers to be able to offer to their customers. Do you have partnerships in place like that?

We do. I can’t name them at this time but I can tell you that those are an important part of our strategy. For example, providing a service, DNS as a service through large provisioners is something that we are doing today. We have tens of millions of domains that are provisioned using Dyn DNS as a service not directly through Dyn, but through partners. That’s an important part of our strategy, to partner with both cloud and CDN providers to provide our capabilities as a service as well as what we do independently.

Is the goal to do that behind the scenes or are some of these going to be named announcements? Is this something that we’ll hear more about in the future?

Most of them are actually done behind the scenes. A lot of it is white labeling where DNS is provided by Dyn but it’s a service that’s provided by our partner. We probably won’t make a tremendous amount of fanfare about that.

What’s ahead for Dyn? What should customers expect over, say, the course of the next year?

We’re very actively pursuing the integration strategies I talked about, around the integrated user experience. You’ll see us continuing to enhance our data assets. We’re always looking for ways to collect more data and do more interesting things with it. You’ll also see Dyn really focusing on this area of creating the direct-to-line-of-business value proposition through the deployment and monetization of performance and resiliency capabilities that we bring to market.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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