The Boss is in: StackIQ brings forth a new era for complex server infrastructure

Taming big data isn't easy for large companies
Taming big data isn't easy for large companies

Earlier this month, StackIQ introduced its newest product, the StackIQ Boss 5, along with ushering in a new era in building and running large complex server infrastructure enabled by Warehouse-grade Automation. We spoke with CEO and co-founder Tim McIntire to learn more about the company, its offerings and its vision.

TechRadar Pro: Who is StackIQ?

Tim McIntire: StackIQ is a startup based in San Diego, California, that helps customers build, run, and manage large distributed systems and private cloud infrastructure with a complete automation platform.

TRP: When was StackIQ founded?

TM: StackIQ traces its beginnings to 2000 and the Rocks Cluster Distribution project conducted at the Supercomputing Center on the University of California at San Diego campus. Early commercial deployments included HPC and supercomputing environments, but we saw a key requirement emerging.

In 2011 the company was rebranded as StackIQ and began to address critical management needs for large enterprise and service provider infrastructures. To date StackIQ has deployed and automated over one million servers and 15,000 unique clusters.

TRP: What solutions does StackIQ bring to the market?

TM: We solve the customer problem of needing to quickly automate clustered servers so that big data workflows can be performed reliably sooner rather than later. And we are able to help customers scale their environments without the costs and headaches that come with it.

On February 9, we announced our newest product, the StackIQ Boss 5. We're excited about this product because it brings a host of new features to our customers including support for Red Hat Linux 7, automation capabilities for Docker containers, and enhancements for all our Hadoop and OpenStack solutions.

TRP: What is Warehouse-grade Automation?

TM: We define Warehouse-grade Automation in two ways. First, it is the complete automation of manual tasks across the full software stack to deploy, operate, and manage clustered server infrastructure. Second, it is an automation platform specifically designed for warehouse-grade or web-scale enterprise and service provider data centres deploying big data and private cloud infrastructure such as Hadoop, NoSQL, OpenStack and much more.

TRP: What are some applications for Warehouse-grade Automation?

TM: Today we see four major use cases among our customers: Big Data Warehouse Automation – for things such as Hadoop, NoSQL, MPP; Cloud Warehouse Automation – including OpenStack, NFV, VMs, Containers; Compute Warehouse Automation – including HPC, life science, oil and gas; and Media Warehouse Automation – examples include transcoding, media streaming and rendering farms.

TRP: Where do you see the biggest growth among these?

TM: Hadoop is certainly a big opportunity right now. We see production Hadoop in every vertical industry. OpenStack is next in terms of having broad horizontal applicability and interest. And finally, I'd say industry-specific use cases such as automating transcoding clusters for media and entertainment would make up the rest. We'll always continue to help our HPC customers, as well.

TRP: So StackIQ is unique in providing automated IT management for the full stack, why is that?

TM: Companies that develop technologies for the application layer, for the Hadoop platform for instance, do not have the core competency or the desire to develop management down the stack. Likewise companies that develop server technologies focus on the base layer and it's outside their area of expertise to develop management solutions up the stack.

There is a critical need for a single solution to address and automate the full stack, to eliminate the sprawl and complexity that arises as organisations scale out large server infrastructures.

TRP: Who are some of your customers?

TM: StackIQ targets very large enterprises and service providers. Many of our customers are innovators and early adopters of technologies. But, in the big data arena, our customers are some of the most established brands with massive production Hadoop clusters. We have several of the largest US service providers, a global automaker, and one of the biggest financial institutions using StackIQ Boss as their gold standard for automating either their Hadoop or OpenStack cluster.

TRP: What's next for StackIQ?

TM: We're constantly creating new services that keep pace with customer needs. For example, the application ecosystem for big data continually evolves. So, with our Pallets, we will continue to produce new turnkey app-specific or site-specific configuration packs so automation is easy. Our modular framework really allows us to remain flexible to changing customer demands. At the end of the day the goal of automation is to make deploying and managing infrastructure easy.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.