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Hazelcast, makers of open-source developer-focused infrastructure components, including an in-memory data grid (IMDG) and a stream processing engine (Hazelcast Jet) have been through a management change.
The previous CEO, Greg Luck, moves to become Chief Technology Officer (a position he previously held) and member of the board. The incoming CEO is Kelly Herrell, a Silicon Valley veteran who was most recently Senior Vice President and General Manager of Brocade Communications, as a result of Brocade’s acquisition of Vyatta where Herrell was Chief Executive Officer.
InfoQ: Why the change in management right now?
Herrell: With Hazelcast doing very well with years of on-target growth performance and getting to 100 people, and Greg working partly from Australia, he decided that rather than migrate permanently to the US, it would be better personally to stay in Australia and replace himself with a Palo Alto based Growth CEO.
InfoQ: Is this purely a board level change, or are there other changes that will affect the rest of the organisation?
Herrell: Greg was a director by virtue of being CEO. With him stepping down, the board thought it was vital to keep his voice on the board for a smooth transition. So, an additional board seat was made available for him.
InfoQ: Vyatta produce software firewalls and appliances routers – the developer-led tools and infrastructure market is a little different. What are the main differences as you see them, and what from your background are you bringing to bear in this new market?
Herrell: Though the markets are different, there is strong similarity in how the products are adopted. Vyatta was unique in its origin as an open source networking offering, and adoption was initiated through frictionless access of a free download by a massive community of highly technical people worldwide, who also needed access to tools that helped them enable innovative solutions.
In addition, what’s incredibly common is, like Vyatta, Hazelcast is driving the front end of a powerful wave of innovation. New technologies and new solutions are coming together to solve new critical business challenges. I’ve built my career on highly innovative and disruptive forces that drive major industry changes; it’s a different skill-set compared to running a status-quo business. Being open-minded, sensing different patterns, and seeing around corners is key to staying on top of a rapidly-changing market.
InfoQ: Will this transition mark a change in technical direction? Has the strategy around open source changed at all? What is the expected impact on customers and users of Hazelcast’s products?
Herrell: There will be no change to our technical direction or open source commitment. Hazelcast IMDG is the market leading in-memory data grid. Hazelcast Jet is our new open source stream processing engine. Kelly has a lot of experience in scaling companies. At a high level, the only thing that will change is Hazelcast will move faster and become more strategically relevant to more customers worldwide.
Giving Greg the ability as CTO to focus on leading product development with Engineering and Product Management is a big part of what will continue to drive our product and technology leadership and keep differentiating ourselves from others. Customers and our open source community will both be very happy with the faster pace of innovation they see coming out of Hazelcast.
InfoQ: Let’s talk about the technology a bit. What’s the plan for IMDG?
Herrell: Hazelcast IMDG has been going very well. It is the fastest and simplest IMDG. In recent years we have added native Nodes.js and Go clients. Cloud wise we support all the clouds. So, the plan is to continue to invest. One exciting development is that in the next release we will be adding a CP Subsystem. That is CP as in CAP. We will add new services which need this contract such as Directory (think Zookeeper) as well as migrating our Atomic structures to CP. The CP subsystem will use RAFT which we have already implemented.
We are also planning on introducing new data structures, enhancing query with SQL Select and JDBC, and adding native JSON support for document-oriented systems. So more than ever to do and busy as ever.
InfoQ: The other major Hazelcast product is Jet. How satisfied are you with the traction that you’re seeing for Jet? The 0.6 release was a fairly big step forward in terms of the maturity of the product, so what is the roadmap from here?
Herrell: 0.6 was like throwing a light switch. With 0.6, we added our Pipelines API (think an enhanced java.util.streams). Suddenly our solution architects got it. We are seeing huge interest from within our Hazelcast community, which is our logical starting point with Jet.
0.7 adds a new Management and Monitoring capability, more connectors and finishes off the Pipelines API. We expect the next release after 0.7, due at the end of the year, to be 1.0 and at that point we will have stable APIs.
InfoQ: Hazelcast have helped to grow the market for open source IMDG in the face of some excellent competitors. Do you see the stream processing market as similar? For developers, what differentiates Jet from the rest of the market?
Herrell: IMDG had great success for two mains reasons: it was the first open source IMDG and it had a really intuitive and simple API, so much so that developers could get going in just 15 minutes.
Jet is a more complex domain. We have tried and discarded three APIs at this point before finally developing the Pipeline API which we think resonates very well with Java 8 developers. We have made it work very well and very fast with IMDG as a source and sink.
So, if you are a Java developer, and you have your data in IMDG or want to put it there, Jet will be your easiest and fastest solution.
InfoQ: Any final comments for our readers?
Herrell: The digitization of everything is creating immense amounts of data quickly, and there is huge business value in leveraging that. We really encourage developers to think strategically about the right infrastructure for their needs – not just the immediate need they’re solving for, but also for the scale and performance they will need going forward.
The book Future Shock describes “the dizzying disorientation caused by the premature arrival of the future.” The world is changing fast; we all need to make decisions that simultaneously solve for the immediate need but anticipate the growing requirements around the corner.
Current production releases of Hazelcast IMDG and Hazelcast Jet are available from https://hazelcast.org/