New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences â€‹(futuristic music) >> Hello and welcome to theCUBE Studios here in Palo Alto, CA I'm John Furrier, co-host of theCUBE and co-founder of Silicon Angle Media, Inc. I'm joined here with Tom Joyce, Cube alumni. Some big news, new role as the CEO of Pensa. Welcome back to the Cube. You've been freelancing out there as an entrepreneur in residence, CEO in residence, you've been on theCUBE commentating. Great to see you. >> Good to see you, too. Thanks for having me back. You know, fully employed. >> Congratulations. You know, finding where you land is really critical. I've talked to a lot of friends, and they want to get a good fit in a gig, they want to have a good team to work with it's a cultural issue, but also you want to sink your teeth into something good, so you found Pensa. You're the CEO now of the company and you've got some news which we'll get to in a minute, but what's going on? Why the change, why these guys? >> You know, last time we talked, last time I was in here, I was running a consulting business, and I did that for almost a year so that I could look at a lot of options and you know, kind of reset my understanding of where the industry is and where the problems are. And it was good to do that. These were some of the best people that I met, and I got interested in what they were doing. They're smart, technical people, I wanted to work with them It was a good fit in terms of skills because when I joined Pensa just a couple of months ago now they were all technical people, and they'd been headsdown developing core technology and some early product stuff for almost three years. So they needed somebody like me to come in and help them get to the next level and it was a really good fit. And the other thing is, frankly, in my last job I was running an IT shop and I also had a thousand people out there selling, and about 300 pre-sales people, and when I saw this, I saw a product that I could've used in both of those areas. So sometimes when you resonate with something like that you start to think well geeze, this is something that I could, that a lot of people are going to need. And so there are many aspects of the technology that are interesting, but ultimately, I saw that this is a useful thing that I could go make a big business out of. So that's why I did it. >> You've had a great career, you know we know each other going way back, EMC days, and certainly at HP, even during the corporate developments work that Meg Whitman was doing at HP but involved in a lot of M&A activities, so you seen the landscape, you are talking about all the VCs, and all the conversations we've talked about in the past on other interviews you can check it out on YouTube, Tom Joyce, if you're interested in checking those conversations out. Worth looking at. So you landed at Pensa. What do they do? What was the itch for you? What was the, why are they relavant? What do they doing? >> Well, the first thing is, the company was founded about three years ago by people that had hardcore experience in big networking and virtualization environments. And they've been tackling some of the hardest problems in virtual infrastructure as you move from the hardware to everything being virtualized on multiple clouds. These guys were tackling the scale problem. And they'd also drilled down into how to make this work in the largest network environments in the world. So they had gotten business out of one of the largest service providers in the world as their first customer. So you look at that, and you say, alright these are smart people. And they're focusing on hard problems and there's a lot of, a lot of longevity in the technology that they're going out and building. And basically, what they're trying to do is help customers go to the next level with all software-based or software-defined, if you will, infrastructure, so that you can take technology from a whole bunch of different sources. It's going to be VMware, OpenStack, DevOps, the DevOps Stack as well as the whole constellation of people in the security industry. How do you make all those software parts work together at scale, with the people that you have? Rather than going out an hiring a whole new IT staff to plug all this stuff together and hope it works, these guys wanted to solve that. So it's without a lot of expertise, this product can go design, validate that it works, build and deploy complete softwaredefined environments, and it can do it faster than you could do it any other way that I'm aware of, and I've been around this industry for a long time. So that's what I saw when I said, geeze, I could have used this before, I could have used it in my own IT where our exposures were things like we had all this old software that we needed to update and we're scared to touch any of it, right? You look at things like Equifax. I was exposed in the Equifax breach, and that was exactly that scenario. >> Yeah, and they had four months in there playing around. Who knows what they
got? >> To be honest with you, in my business we were doing the same thing because we weren't comfortable with upgrading our software cause we couldn't validate that it worked. How do you move from the old stuff to VMware six-dot-five and make sure nothing else breaks? We're kind of in the era of needing machine learning, intelligent technologies, autonomous kinds of ways to deploy this stuff, cause you can't hire enough smart people to go do it. And that's what I saw. >> Well, we'll do a breakdown or a tear-down, however you want to look at it, of the company in a second, but you guys have some news. Let's get to the news. What's the big news that you're sharing today? >> Okay, great. Well, there's a couple of key parts of it. First, we're formally launching the company. We've been heads down in development and I've been there for a few months, but the company hasn't been launched. So we're doing that, we're introducing Pensa to the world and the new website is Pensa.ai. The second thing is we've completed our Series A financing so we've got the financing under our belt. Third thing is we've been hiring a team. We've brought in certainly me, I've brought in a fella named Jim Chapel as the VP of marketing, long-time industry guy in both large and small software companies. And we're rolling out the first product. So the technology is called->> In terms of shipping? >> Yeah, it's going to be shipping as a SaaS offering and it's available now. It's built on our technology which is called Maestro, which is this smart machine, and the first offering is called Pensa Lab. And I can describe to you what it's used for, but it's for helping people go figure out how do I design, build, run, try new scenarios, and roll out stuff that's actually going to work and do it a lot faster than people can do with traditional technologies. >> Congratulations for launching the company, congratulations on the new role, great job. I'm looking forward to seeing you, But let's get into company, Pensa. >> Alright. >> So let's just go in market you guys are targeting. Take a minute to go into the market. What's the market, what's going on in the market, what trends, what's the bet in the market for you guys? >> With a early company like this, there's always a lot of things you can do and the battle is figuring out what is the first thing we're going to do? So I think over time we're going to be relevant to a lot of people, the first customers we're going to be focusing on are people in IT that are trying to manage complex virtualized networks. So a lot of them are people using VMware today. >> So the category is virtualization cloud? What's the category? >> It's a SaaS product for design, build, run. So it's really designing autonomous IT systems that are built on software-defined environments. So it's VMware, OpenStack, DevOps stack, and being able to kind of bring all those parts together in a way that from an operational standpoint you can deploy quickly. In the first version of the product is going to be designed for test in depth. And next year, we intend to bring out production versions of it, but virtually every one of these folks has environments for test today to figure out alright, I want to go do my update, my upgrade, my change I want to try a different security policy, cause I've got a hack happening and I want to do that fast, we're going to go after that. The other side of it is folks in the vendor community. Almost anybody that's selling a solution, again, like me and the job that I used to have, has people out there doing proofs of concept, demos, building systems for customers. And what we can do is give you the ability to spin up complete working environments and do it (snaps finger) basically like that. If you got a call this afternoon to go show VMware NSX running with some customer application with some other technology from a third we can make that work for you, and then you can tear it down and do the next one at four o'clock in the afternoon. >> So that a VMware customer-based you're targeting, I mean, it sounds like, and clarify if I don't get this right, you don't really care if it's private cloud, or hybrid cloud, or public cloud. >> We don't care. No, we don't. And there's a lot of folks-- >> And VMware, is that a target market, VMware buyers? >> Absolutely. Yup. And frankly, we've had people inside of VMware working with us as a number of the beta testers on this and demonstrating that they can spin up their own environments faster, so that kind of proof point is what we're after. Then there's a lot of folks in DevOps, right? DevOps is one of the hot targets for our business and a lot of businesses and what we see is folks that are focusing on the app development side of DevOps and then they get to the point where they got to call IT and say alright, give me a platform to run my new application on and they get the old answers. So a lot of these folks are looking for the ability to spin up environments very very quickly, with a lot of flexibility where they don't need to be and expert in alright, how's the storage going to work and how do I build a network, right? >> So are you targeting IT and DevOps hybrid, or is it one of the other DevOps developers? >> It's both. >> Okay and you don't care which cloud so you're going to draft off the success that VMware's seeing right now with their cloud strategy with AWS >> Absolutely. I mean look, there's a lot of ways >> Software design is booming. >> We can help those customers figure out how do I do VSAN faster? How do I do NSX faster? How do I set up applications that I can move to AWS faster? It's kind of bringing-- >> So software-defined clouds, software-defined data center, all this is in your wheelhouse. >> Yes, that's exactly right. >> This is what you're targeting. >> And that's the opportunity and the challenge. Again when you're doing a small company, the world is your oyster but you have to kind of focus on the first thing first. So we're going to go in and try to help people that have, are dealing with alright, I need to kind of update my software so that I
don't have an Equifax, or I need to fix my security policies, I need an environment like, today that I can use to test that. Or, I want to go from the old VMware to to the new VMware, I got to make sure it works. That's good for the customer, that's good for VMware, it's good for us. >> And the outcome is digital productivity for the developer. >> Absolutely. >> OK, so let's talk about the business, and the business model. So you guys raised some money, can you talk about the amount, or is that confidential? >> It's confidential at this point and we have some additional-- >> Is it bigger than 10 million? Less than 10 million? >> It's been less than 10 million. We're going to go lean and mean, but we're set up to make the run we need to run. >> OK, good I got that out of the way. Employees, how many people do you guys have? What's the strategy? >> Just over 20 now, and we have a few more folks that we're going to be adding. We're going to go fairly lean from here. >> Okay, in terms of business model, you said SaaS Can you just explain a little bit more about thee business model, and then some of the competition that you have? >> Yeah, this product was designed from day one to be a SaaS product, so we're not going to go on-premise software or old models, we're going with a SaaS model for everything we're doing now and everything we intend to do in the future, so the product sits in the cloud, and you can access it basically on demand. We're going to make it very easy for people to get in and give this a try. It's going to be simple pricing, starting at about 15 hundred dollars a month. >> So a little bit of low-cost entry, not freemium, so it's going to some cost to get in, right? Try before you buy, POC, however that goes, right? >> Yeah, it's see a demo, do a trial, give it a shot. I'll give you an example, right. When I was at my last job, I had 300 pre-sales people >> Where's this? >> This was at Dell Software. >> Dell Software, okay, got it. >> Now it's called Quest. They would go out and they'd use cloud-based resources to spin up their demo environment. Well, I'm going to give them, and I'm calling them, by the way, the ability to buy it for a very short amount of money and you're not committed to it forever, you can use it as much as you want. And get the ability to say alright, let's spin up VMware, let's spin up OpenStack, let's spin up F5 Palo Alto Networks whatever security I want, get my app running on that without being an expert in all those parts. >> You can stand up stuff pretty quickly, it's a DevOps ethos but it's about the app and the developer productivity. >> Right. And from a business model standpoint, it's how do I make this really, really easy? Because the more of those folks that use it in this phase, next year, when we get to say alright, let's punch that thing you built into production on your cloud, we'll be ready to go. Our goal is to grab space quickly. >> Talk about competition. >> I think the competition for this part of it this kind of dev test lab spin up scenario, the Pensa lab that I just described, the biggest competition is going to be people that build their own. So in the corner you've got your test environment running on your old hardware, right? So that doesn't come with this automated software capability. The other ones are going to be people like Skytap, as an example, that a lot of people use, and I've used in the past, that gives you a platform to run on, but again, a lot more cost and not the automated software capabilities. So there are a lot of scenarios like that that we can go after, and it's almost universal. Everybody's got a need to have some sort of a test or dev environment, right? And we are going to prove to them that the software is better. >> So not a lot of competition. It's not like there's a zillion players out there. >> No, it's a big target, but there's not a lot of players. And for the most part, you're going to go into scenarios where customers have something they've cobbled together that isn't working as well as they'd like. >> And Pensa AI hints a little bit of a automation piece which is really all our people know in the enterprise. Let's talk about the technology. What's under the hood, is there AI involved, also you've got the domain name .ai, which I love those domain names, by the way, but what's the tech? What's driving the innovation and story differentiation? >> To be honest with you, inside that's something you debate because that's what it is. If AI is a way to use technology, to do things as well or better than people used to do before, that's what it is. And if you take all the hype, and nonsense out of the conversation, you say it's not about SkyNet and computers taking over the world, it's really about doing stuff better than we can do and making people more effective, that's what we have. Now, under AI there's a bunch of different techniques and we're going to be focused on primarily modeling and the core IP of this is how we build the model for all of those components and how they interact and how they behave, and then machine learning. How do we apply techniques to actually-- >> So you're writing software that's innovating on technology and configuration, tying that together and then using that instrumentation to make changes and/or adaptive-like capabilities-- >> Exactly, but rather than go spend a month building the template that you're going to go deploy the system will build that for you. And that's where the smarts are. And we'll use machine learning techniques over time to make that model better. So that's kind of where we're digging, and frankly it's a big problem for people. >> So software you're main technology. >> It's 100% a software platform. >> Okay, well, Wikibon Research was going viral at VMworld and I'll make a note cause I think this is important cause automation is our and it's a key point of your thing is that Wikibon showed that about 1.5 billion dollars are going to be taken out of the market as automation takes non-differentiated labor out of the equation, which essentially is stacking servers and racking, stacking and racking. That plays right into your trend. >>
That's exactly what we're doing. And what we want to do is-- >> By the way that value shifts, too, all the parts. >> Yeah, and I think we're trying to focus-- automation isn't new. It's not new in IT. Certainly there's been a lot of focus on it the last 10 years. The question is how do you make the automation smarter? So you don't have to do the design and say push play. Cause the problem with automation in these really complicated microservices, multi-- the problem is, if you automate it, if you build that template wrong, you can make the same mistake a thousand times in a row. And I've had products in the past where they've worked great as long as that template was correct. Well what if the template changes? What if I need to put new security policies in there, changes? Maestro is going to build it for you. That's what the story is all about. >> That's your product, that's your product name. >> Yep. >> Well, that's what DevOps is all about. Programming the infrastructure, and that's always going to change. So that's really the DevOps ethos. >> Yeah, and that's why if you expand out from the first play run, this test dev scenario, well, frankly, we'll learn a lot. We'll learn a ton about different patterns that we see, we'll learn a lot about the Interop environment that customers want, I want you to add this or add that, the system is going to get smarter to the point where when we punch it into production, it's going to know a lot more than it does today. >> Well congratulations on the launch. My final question for you is really the most important one which is, if I'm a customer, why do I care? What's in it for me? What's the value? Why should I pay attention to Pensa.ai? What's going on, what's the value to me, why should I care, why should I call you? Gimme that bottom line. >> It's about risk reduction. It's about making sure that the things you need to change you can actually do it without it blowing up in your face. And it's also, frankly, the other side of the AI-- >> What, the infrastructure blowing up in my face? Or just apps? >> If you make changes to your environment and you're not sure if they're going to work, but you know, again, take the Equifax thing. If they had made those changes and put them into their environment, it wouldn't be on the front page of every newspaper in the world. Frankly, my information wouldn't have been hacked. >> What would you guys have done if I was Equifax and I knew that potentially I had to move fast? How could you guys solve that problem? >> If you have a problem, upgrade the software today. And what we would've done is give them the ability-- >> Do you think they knew they had a problem? >> Uh... I don't know if they did or not, but you can see this scenario over and over and over again in other companies, where they say, we know we need to do an update, but we're not doing it. We're going to wait for the six months-- >> Cause it breaks stuff. >> Cause we're scared. >> Scared, or that it breaks stuff, or both? >> It breaks stuff and we need to test it, right? So we're going to bring test velocity into that, we're going to bring intelligence to make sure the design is right, right? So that you can do it more quickly. In many different scenarios. >> It's interesting in the old days, it was like, patch management was a big thing, that was the on-premise software, but with DevOps, you need, essentially, test and dev all the time on? >> You do. If you're developing these applications with DevOps in the front end, and you're dropping new versions of 'em in hours, rather than quarters, the infrastructure in the back end has to kind of speed up to DevOps speed. And that's where we're going to focus our attention. >> Alright, here's the hard question for you and we'll end the segment, is when does a customer, your potential customer, know they need you? What's the environment look like? What's the pain points? What are the signals that they need to be calling Pensa.ai? What's the deal there? >> Yeah, I think we're going to talk to the DevOps people that are looking to get their applications out and get them built and deployed-- >> So, need for application pushing, that's one. >> That's one. The other ones are going to be folks inside any IT organization that need better velocity, need to be able to test one and take money, cost out of it, cause we're going to do it for a lot less than what it costs you to do now. And the third one is the vendor community. Folks out there selling software. VARs, pre-solicit people. >> So I guess the question is more specific. What is the signs inside the customer that make them want to call you? Stuff's breaking, upgrades not happening fast enough, I'm trying to get to the heart of it. If I'm a customer-- >> On the IT customer side, it's all about velocity. We need to push our apps faster, we need infrastructure faster, we need to test security policies faster, we're not going fast enough-- >> So basically if you're going slow, not getting the job done, they call you. >> Pretty much, that's our guys. >> Tom, congratulations on the launch, congratulations on the new CEO job, we'll be tracking you guys. Series A funding, congratulations, who's the VC involved? >> We have The Fabric, which was the seed funding source, and then March Capital has been very helpful to us in this A round. >> Great, well they got a great pro in you as CEO. We'll keep in touch. Cube alumni, good friend Tom Joyce here inside theCUBE Studios on the conversation around the launch of the company, Series A funding, new team members, and Pensa.ai. This is theCUBED. Cubed.net is our URL, check it out. Siliconangle.com and wikibon.com is where you can go check out our stuff. I'm John Furrier, thanks for watching. (futuristic music) St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights.