A long-time expert on enterprise IT and cloud platforms, Dan Scholnick (General Partner, Trinity Ventures) has the distinction of having been Docker’s first venture investor. BCN spoke to him to find out the secrets to being a top level IT investor.
Know your stuff. Scholnick has a technical background, with a computer science degree from Dartmouth College. After this he worked at Wily Technology with the legendary Lew Cirne, who went on to be the founder and CEO of New Relic. At Wily, Scholnick built the first version of the company’s application performance management product.
All this gave Scholnick a natural appreciation for products and technologies that get used in the data centre as core infrastructure. It partly was this understanding that alerted him to the potential significance of Docker’s processor, dotCloud.
Know how to spot talent: The other factor was that he could recognise dotCloud founder Solomon Hykes as a technology visionary. “He had a better understanding and view of how infrastructure technology was changing than almost anyone we had met,” says Scholnick.
Of course, dotCloud didn’t turn out as expected. “It turns out we were wrong about PaaS, but we were right about the containers. Fortunately for all of us involved in the company, that container bet ended up working out.”
Know when the future is staring you in the face: When Scholnick invested in dotCloud, containers had been around for quite a long time. But they were very difficult to use. “What we learned through the dotCloud experience was how to make containers consumable. To make them easier to consume, easier to use, easier to manage, easier to operate. That’s really what Docker is all about, taking this technology that has actually been around, is great technology conceptually but has historically been very hard to use, and make it usable.”
The rest is IT history. Arguably no infrastructure technology in history has ever taken off and gained mass adoption as quickly as Docker.
“To me, the thing that’s really stunning is to see the breadth and depth of Docker usage throughout the ecosystem,” says Scholnick. “It’s truly remarkable.”
Know what’s next: When BCN asked Scholnick what he thought the next big thing would be in the cloud native movement, he points to an offshoot of Docker and Containers: microservices. “I think we’re going to see massive adoption of microservices in the next 3-5 years and we’re likely going to see some big companies built around the microservices ecosystem,” he says.” Docker certainly has a role to play in this new market: Docker is really what’s enabling it.” and
Keeping in touch with real world uses of Containers is one the reasons Scholnick will be attending and speaking at Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center).
“As a board member at Docker and as an investor in the ecosystem, it’s always good to hear the anecdotal information about how are people using Docker – as well as what pieces do they feel are missing that would help them use containers more effectively. That’s interesting to me because it point to problems that are opportunities for Docker to solve, or opportunities for new start-ups that we can fund.”