An Exceptional New Racker: Quick Questions For Exceptional Cloud Services Founder Jonathan Siegel

Jonathan Siegel is a repeat entrepreneur, angel investor, father of six and leader of Exceptional Cloud Services – Rackspace’s most recent acquisition.

Jonathan got involved with cloud computing in 2005 while developing a shopping cart application called RightCart. The project turned into a real business and Jonathan started shopping it around to e-commerce websites. Through those discussions, he learned about Infrastructure-as-a-Service and, after selling RightCart, began work on tools to start working with IaaS. He formalized those tools into RightScale.

Since then, he’s founded RightSignature and invested out of RightVentures, and Exceptional Cloud Services was once called RightErrors. Not surprising, considering the fact that Jonathan owns 709 domains with various “right”-related permutations.

We caught up with Jonathan for a few quick questions:

Q: What does Exceptional do?

A: When you push your baby into a production environment and something goes wrong, how do you get feedback? Most of the time there’s a separation between operations and developers. A lot of valuable information in logs is just ignored, even at big companies. To get an accurate view of what’s going on, you’re cobbling together tools that give you a lot of information but no single view. Adding it all up is what we do.

We also run the largest community of hosted Redis with over 20,000 active instances up right now. We cannot wait for Rackspace to teach us how to provide Fanatical Support at that scale.

Q: How did you get started with this project?

A: The way that software is being developed is changing. Before, developers did heavy quality assurance cycles that would take six months or longer. But in the last five years there’s a desire to get new software out there quicker, make it more relevant and reflect the changing needs of the customer. Instead of waterfall development, they’re choosing an agile process. Instead of a static language where there’s a lot of protection that can be caught in the compiling process, they’re leveraging more dynamic languages and relying on third-party services to get things done.

All these changes are aimed at moving fast and companies need new tools and support to make sure that everything doesn’t fall apart. We’re the most direct route for error control. We get all the rich information around an error, capture it, catalog it, de-duplicate it and alert the right individual on the team to remediate that issue.

Q: Tell us why you’re excited to be part of Rackspace.

A: The excellence in customer satisfaction. We’ve been a relatively small team satisfying 10,000 paying customers and it’s not easy. Our team has a lot to learn from Rackspace on how to deliver satisfaction at scale. It’s great for our team and great for our customers.

Even though Rackspace is a big, successful company, I’ve felt like everyone I met was a teammate or a potential teammate. It feels like a place that can be a home.

Q: You’ve been involved in cloud for a long time. Where do you see it going?

A: The promise of cloud was that if I bring my servers to a vendor, it manages the complexity so that I don’t have to. But there have been all kinds of new complexity, especially with vendors offering black box systems. We see them failing but we don’t know why. You have to be pretty sophisticated to operate with this in mind. As a developer, I don’t want to have this on my plate.

Long term, there’s a big question to answer: is the cloud just ‘public cloud’ or is it an API and the commoditization of what a server can be? If it’s the latter, then [Rackspace] is the company to bring it over the finish line and satisfy the market demand.


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