When DigitalOcean (DO) launched operations in June 2011, the market was dominated by many cloud hosting providers serving the developer community. They were having a firm foothold. Nonetheless, the developer community – the target vertical for DO, was facing issues in relation to time consuming procedures for infrastructure configuration, lack of transparency in price performance pairing and complexity in running the systems, which were essentially built for the enterprise.
The founders of DO – Moisey Uretsky, Ben Uretsky, Jeff Carr, Alec Hartman and Mitch Wainer, were developers and they had a first hand view of these issues and the gap in the market. No cloud hosting provider had identified these irritants of the developers, to plug these deficiencies by providing simple to use cloud infrastructure. “As software developers, the focus is on building the application logic and converting ideas into products and not focus on hardware elements like configuring VMs. They would prefer to do this heavy lifting to be done by the infrastructure provider. We saw the opportunity to make the cloud infrastructure more simpler than what it was,” says Prabhakar Jayakumar, Country Director, India, DigitalOcean.
This was the genesis behind the need for DigitalOcean. As a logical extension of the gaps in the market, DO launched ‘Droplet’ – a linux based VM, which comes with a set amount of compute, storage and networking, all bundled together. This was the only offering for the first three- years after the company formation. The product is focused for the software developer community. Apart from the aspect of simplicity, transparency in pricing is also an issue faced by the developers. “There is ambiguity and hidden pricing involved in the price plans. From a developer perspective, it essentially means, there are many question marks on why I am being charged for what I am charged,” says Jayakumar. DO provides price to performance parity.
The second generation of Droplet were ‘SSD only Droplet’ with faster read write. The optical drive was the convention then. This would lead to improved performance of the web, mobile application hosted on the droplet. “We were the first ones to launch ‘SSD only droplet’, “ says Jayakumar. The other vendors provided SSD only as an option.
DO also launched US$ 5 machines, which came with a certain amount of compute, storage and networking. It can be used to host an application, like a website or a blog.
As the company has graduated over the years, they have launched products in each layer – compute, network and storage. In the storage space, object and block storage was offered, followed by the launch of different classes of machines in the compute space – high CPU machines. The underlying need to launch these products was to match up to the changing requirements of the developers. “They are no longer building a simple web application or a website but production grade applications. Droplet has become a one stop shop for all of their compute, network, storage related requirements,” says Jayakumar.
Working for and with developers and startups
DO has native chapters in 10 cities. They consist of technology enthusiasts. There are meetups organised to connect the technology experts with the enthusiasts to discuss the latest in technology, challenges faced, etc. Globally, there are 64 such meetup chapters.
In order to encourage open source enthusiasts, a programme, viz Hacktoberfest is organised in the month of October. DO has partnered with Github to invite open source experts to participate in specific areas of open source. Their contribution is then recognised in the open source community.
For engaging with the startup community, DO runs the ‘Hatch’ programme. The objective is to provide a path for the early stage and bootstrap startups to scale. “The startups are provided with free DO cloud credits, which are valid for a year. We also provide technical mentorship for the startups to review their architecture,” says Jayakumar. DO also organises events and network gatherings for the bootstrap startups to engage with the VCs and investors.
DO has partnered with the Government of Karnataka for the Karnataka Startup Cell, wherein the startups are engaged through the Hatch programme.
DO’s India operations
India is currently the fastest growing market for DO. “By 2021, India will surpass the USA with regards to the number of software developers. Precisely why, a data centre was set up in Bengaluru. Very soon, the addressable market in India will be the highest, globally,” says Jayakumar.
Globally, over 1 mn customers are operational and aboard, more than 75 mn droplet VMs. In India, some of the large startup customers include OYO Rooms, Delhivery, NoBroker.in, KartRocket, Betaout, Corier, Printo, Vtiger, Coverfox, Quoteck and HackerRank.
DO has recently developed a Kubernetes orchestration for containers. This will specifically benefit the enterprise community in containerising their applications: both on the droplet VMs or on any other cloud provider. It’s cloud platform agnostic. This will also enable them to apply continuous integration continuous development (CICD), on a daily basis.
The company is targeting business verticals like ecommerce, adtech, companies building IoT applications, etc.
“The plan going forward is to create a marketplace for software vendors, who are running on the DO infrastructure,” says Jayakumar. They can offer their platforms to be used, wherein the subscriber would automatically get access to the DO cloud infrastructure. These software vendors can not only list their applications on DO but also get access to the 1 mn customers that DO has. This is in case if there is a synergy between them. This helps the go-to-market amplification for the customers on the DO infrastructure.
Plans for the channel partner community
DO will soon have a formal channel partner programme in place. They will be given access to the company’s cloud infrastructure to be used for providing their services and the financial incentives will also be announced.
The partners will also be allowed to offer their managed service offerings to be used by their clients, using the DO platform. DO as a company is a self service offering and doesn’t offer managed services.