In this DevOps Chat we take a dive into the continuous testing market, which is one of the most dynamic in the DevOps space. Our guest is Sandeep Johri, CEO of Tricentis, a leader in the space.
Sandeep gives us his own personal background, as well as the history of Tricentis. The company is not an overnight sensation in the continuous testing space. In fact, it has been perfecting its offerings for many years. Tricentis literally helped usher in the continuous testing age, making continuous testing part of the CI/CD pipeline.
This chat is a great way to learn about what some of the important points for continuous testing are. Have a listen. As usual, the streaming audio is immediately below, followed by the transcript of our conversation to follow along. Enjoy.
As the CEO of Tricentis, Sandeep brings over 25 years of enterprise software experience. He manages all business-related functions including business strategy, products, services, sales, marketing, and operations to achieve business profit and sales objectives. Sandeep most recently served as the COO of Appcelerator, the leading open source mobile application development platform. He was Vice President of Strategy and Industry Solutions at HP, where he also served as Vice President of Corporate Development. There, he was instrumental in developing and implementing the growth strategy that resulted in the software business growing 2X market over the last four years. Sandeep was instrumental in the formation of two startups, Determina (VMware) and Bluelane (VMware). He was also the CEO and founder of Oblix (Oracle), and co-founded eBoodle (EW Scripps), one of the first ecommerce comparison shopping services. Sandeep has an MBA from Stanford University, a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Wayne State University, Detroit, and a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Pune University, India. Sandeep is involved as an advisor and investor in various startups in Silicon Valley and India.
Sandeep Johri: Thank you, Alan.
Shimel: First of all, Sandeep, I just wanted to make sure I’ve got your – we pronounced your name correctly.
Johri: Yes, you did, actually. You got it absolutely right.
Shimel: Good. All right. It’s always a good start. So, Sandeep, let’s start foundational here. Tricentis is a company that, really, had a very, very strong presence over in EMEA, I think, and has most recently really begun to exert themselves in the North American market. But some of our listeners may not be familiar with Tricentis at all. So why don’t we start with that, if you can give us a sort of a – not an elevator pitch, but a little background on Tricentis?
Johri: Sure. So Tricentis was founded about eight, nine years ago. It was founded by Wolfgang Platz, who was actually a tester and working on complex enterprise applications for testing and was frustrated with all the tools out there. So, like any good entrepreneur, he decided to write his own tool. And the tool initially was focused primarily on automation. And it sold – they were – Wolfgang was based out of Vienna, Austria, and they sold it locally into the German-speaking market, so Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.
Johri: And they had a nice, little business going and they had a great product. I ran into them about 4 years ago, in 2013. I found them and felt that this could be a really interesting offering because what the market needed was automation, especially as people were going to Agile. Given my background with Mercury at HP, I knew that there was not much automation, but, if you go Agile, you have to have automation. It becomes a critical component – automation on the testing side becomes critical – and that’s why I joined the company. You’re right; they were initially focused primarily on Europe. And, remember, this is pre-coining of the term “DevOps,” but the need for automation was always there, especially as you kind of shift towards Agile on the dev side.
So now, you know, cycle ahead four years and we are now a global company. We did as much business in US as in Europe, so we are now really very well balanced. And we also have now created a presence, over the last few years, in Asia-Pac, so Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, so we’re truly kinda global, with a typical balance of about equal between US and EMEA, and then another additional APAC component to it. And, obviously, once DevOps became the kinda mantra in the industry, we had a really nice fit and people started talking about continuous testing. Well, with automation, what you really get is continuous testing, so that’s why we are all about continuous testing. But the core engine is an automation – is a test-automation engine, so for the enterprise.
Shimel: Absolutely. So I wanna get into the whole automation and testing market, but you mentioned a few things that I, if you don’t mind, I’d like to dive into. I don’t mean to embarrass you, Sandeep, but, when you get to my age – and you’re a contemporary – you know, we like to reminisce. So you mentioned Mercury and your experience there. I mean, for those who aren’t looking at your CV or the management team details up on the Tricentis site, why don’t you give a little background on yourself to our audience so they get a flavor for this?
Johri: Sure. Sure, Alan. I’ll try to keep it short. I’ve been in Silicon Valley for almost 30 years and I’ve been entrepreneur. I started a few companies. One was Oblix, which was a leader in the identity space. And then a couple of other companies, Blue Lane and Determina, which were then acquired by VMware. I joined HP after that because they were looking to build out their IT-management portfolio, and, over 3 or 4 years, from 2005 to 2008, we acquired about 13, 14 companies, including Mercury Interactive, which was the largest, but we also acquired Opsware for data-center automation; we acquired Peregrine for asset and service management. And that whole portfolio became HP ALM, so it was – that business went from about $600 million to about $3.5 billion.
Johri: And then everyone knows HP was having some challenges and were increasingly focused less on the software business, which they eventually sold last year. But I felt the need – I felt the opportunity was there for a next-generation tool or next-generation testing platform that better suits the Agile automation environment, which we now call more “DevOps” because it takes the whole cycles and kinda creates a continuous-delivery chain, if you may.
Shimel: Absolutely. So, Sandeep, that’s sort of the quintessential Silicon Valley entrepreneur story, where you’ve done everything from start-ups that had some very successful exits. As I mentioned offline, I remember Oblix and I remember Blue Lane almost like it was yesterday. And then, of course, you had this big company, HP kind of experience on the resume, and I would imagine, knowing what I know about the Insight Venture team, who I believe is an investor in Tricentis, I would imagine you would have been a very, very attractive candidate, when they were looking for a – the team was looking for a CEO to take Tricentis to the next level, so right person at the right time there. Fantastic story.
Johri: Yeah, I joined before Insight came in. Yeah, I joined four years ago – Insight came in last year – because I thought that they were really promising, and we spent the first couple of years kind of building out the product to be more – you know, filling out the product. We added service virtualization. We added test data in it. You know, we’ve added a whole bunch of capabilities and we were beginning to get recognized by Gartner and the like as a leader and we also started having some really large enterprise customers in the US. That’s when Insight also had a similar thesis, that, “Hey, HP seems to be walking away from this market, but there’s a need – there’s an opportunity there,” and they found us. And that’s why they invested $165 million late last year, so.
Shimel: Wow. That’s quite an investment. And so sort of I had the horse before the cart, but congratulations. Right? This is not an easy thing with that kind of investment, but also comes when there’s that kind of opportunity. Let’s turn now, if we can, Sandeep, and talk a little bit about the testing market. You know, testing – before DevOps and Agile, the whole QA testing thing was really, really super geeky and I don’t know how interesting to people. Back in my day, at StillSecure, the hardest thing for us in testing was just building up a test lab that could handle the scale we wanted to test at. Right?
Johri: Right. Right. Right.
Shimel: And testing software and so forth was relatively a bunch of open-source tools that the development team did as part of the release cycle in the old Waterfall. But, you know, with Agile and automation and, look, there’s Agile with automation and then there’s automation in and of itself, throughout the software life cycle.
Shimel: It’s become imperative, right? And, all of a sudden, now –
Shimel: – yeah – testing has taken on a super role, right? I mean, it’s really become kind of the – you know, when we look at the continuous integration, continuous delivery pipeline, right, that testing, man, it sticks out. And it’s like swamping everything else, if you will, right? It’s swallowing it.
Shimel: And so tremendous opportunity. We’ve seen a number of companies try to enter this fray, many of them based on open source, whether they’re doing Selenium or something like that, but there’s different aspects of testing. Can you share with our audience, Sandeep, what type of testing is it that Tricentis is doing?
Johri: Right. And so, Alan, I think you cover a lot of the history and perhaps I can comment on that because that’s really interesting. So, you know, testing, for an enterprise, has always been critical, but you’re right. It was kind of a “Oh, God, I have to do testing and it’s a lot of manual process,” so people mostly outsourced testing. And, when you were in Waterfall mode, that was okay because you did a bunch of development and then you threw it over the wall. In most cases, at an enterprise, it went offshore and people did it manually. But it has always been a huge spend. Even today, there’s a $30-billion spend on testing services.
Now the challenge is that the tools that were out there, both open-source and commercial tools, were primarily script-based tools, so it was really difficult to automate. And, because you had outsourced, you kinda got the labor arbitrage and people continued to do it manually. And, even today, 80 percent of testing, enterprise testing, is done manually, which is kinda crazy, right? ‘Cause here we’re getting ready with autonomous cars on the one hand, but, on the other hand, we’re doing software testing which is – software’s so fundamental to every enterprise – we’re doing all the testing manually. Well, now – and that was okay in the Waterfall environment.
As you go to Agile on the dev side, you start doing frequent builds. And, as you start doing frequent builds, if your testing cycle is still six to 12 weeks, you’ll fall right back into a Waterfall mode, even though your dev might be Agile. So testing is becoming – the need for automated testing is becoming critical because, otherwise, it becomes the bottleneck in your delivery chain. And what we do or our view of testing is that testing should be at the same cadence as development, so, if you’re doing daily builds, you should be testing on a daily basis.
Now you mentioned developers. Developers do unit testing – they do subsystem-level testing as they build – but, for a large enterprise, which has a complex environment that has a mix of technologies, just doing subsystem-level testing doesn’t work. It is necessary but not sufficient. And, therefore, what you need to be able to do to really deliver faster or to really be getting – to get into a continuous-delivery mode, you need to be able to build continuously but also test end-to-end on a continuous basis. And that is fundamentally what we enable through automation. We can get to 90-percent automation; we leave manual testing only for usability and exploratory. And then, you know, you truly have your DevOps tool chain in a continuous mode, where you’re doing continuous builds and then –
Johri: You’re doing continuous builds on the one hand, you’re doing continuous testing on the same cadence, and then you can push it out into ops, so you’re right. It becomes absolutely critical, and the manual testing is rapidly decreasing, and people are shifting more to automation now.
Shimel: Absolutely. And not only shifting. You know, it’s a global, massive shift to automation and especially with the testing. And, frankly, look, that’s why you get the kind of valuations we’re seeing. That’s why you’re seeing the kind of acquisitions by large companies that we’re seeing. You know, I don’t see how you can do testing, going forward, without automation, so this is a fundamental change in the way this is being done. You know, you look at some of the companies from the old way of doing it, who are maybe selling testing equipment and so forth. Right? And they’re kind of dead men walking, to a certain extent. Right? And I –
Shimel: Geez, I don’t know what to tell you with it.
Johri: But, you know, Alan, one more point on that. I think when you think about a large enterprise – a bank, an insurance company, or the like – their business processes span technologies, meaning they have modern front ends, but they also have a lot of legacy systems. And most of the early DevOps work has been done only on the front-end systems, where you can go dev and, as long as you’ve done some unit testing, you can move to production. When you’re thinking about enterprises with large end-to-end systems that span every technology that’s been invented, you have to get into a continuous-testing mode; otherwise, you cannot do DevOps for a large enterprise. So the enterprise DevOps is a slightly different animal than, let’s say, a smaller startup in Silicon Valley doing DevOps, where they have a relatively modern tech stack and a relatively monolithic application, if you may.
Shimel: And, frankly, I always like to say, Sandeep, those companies – first of all, it’s DevOps, right? I don’t care whether you’re big or little – you’re all like do DevOps – but they do DevOps because they just don’t have the resources to do it any other way, frankly, right? Everyone wearing multiple hats and the way they – they have to – it is just no other way. It’s in their DNA, if you will. Where, with large enterprises, it’s DevOps or die, to a certain extent, in today’s competitive marketplace. And when I say “DevOps,” I’m talking about continuous – continuous testing, continuous delivery, continuous integration. You know, that automation is wherever – I mean, you know, all of the things we’ve come now to recognize as DevOps. So –
Shimel: Sandeep, I guess we see these mega-trends. We see the way the market’s heading. We’ve heard about your background and the company’s history. I mean, it’s an eight-year-old or nine-year-old startup, right?
Johri: Mm-hmm. That’s right.
Shimel: What does the future hold? Specifically for Tricentis.
Johri: Well, you know, we see ourselves as – and also we have about 600 large enterprises across those regions that I talked about – US, most of EMEA, and then Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore – and we focus primarily on large enterprises, the Global 2000 or the Global 5000. Competitively, we’ll end up replacing the old HP, which is now called “Micro Focus.” Most enterprises are looking for a modern tool set, just like they use AppDynamics or New Relic to replace the old app-monitoring solutions and they’re replacing old defect-management systems with newer things like Jira and the like. So we see a lot of replacement, but the really exciting part is that the $30-billion spend that I was talking about, on testing services, that is, like I said, mostly manual, and, as you start automating that, what we are really doing is disrupting that $30-billion manual-testing market. So the global opportunity for us is incredible. There’s a multibillion-dollar opportunity, in terms of what a platform like us can be selling out there.
Johri: Mercury was a billion-dollar company – almost a billion-dollar company 10 years ago, 2007, and so we see that not only as a replacement as a replacement opportunity, but also, because we’re disrupting the services play, as you disrupt manual labor, you know, a big chunk of it goes towards the automation tools, and that’s what we see. So, in terms of the future, we see a very, very bright future. And we wanna be the marketshare leader in testing tools, so we have a very comprehensive solution already for end-to-end testing, both performance and load testing, and we will continue to enhance it so that we’re the innovative leader, as we are right now. We will maintain that and continue the leadership, so.
Shimel: Sandeep, I have little doubt of that, as long as you’re at the helm, driving this. It sounds like, based on your track record – and I have to agree with almost everything you said about the market. That’s kind of where we are right now and it should be an interesting next couple of years. The opportunity is certainly there, right? Someone’s gonna dominate this.
Johri: Wonderful. Yes.
Johri: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Shimel: Sandeep, as I told you when we started, the 15 minutes goes really quickly, so we’re at 20 minutes already. So we’re gonna need to kinda wrap up on this, but, before we do, for people who may be – we’re doing a bunch of activities with Tricentis, where I believe we’ll have some webinars and some content up on DevOps.com, but, beyond that, where can people maybe either see you guys at conferences or speaking? Or, obviously, they can go to tricentis.com – T-R-I-C-E-N-T-I-S.com – for information, but just if you happen to know off top of your head where people might get more info even or a little hands-on –
Johri: Yeah, well, we have – yeah, absolutely. Well, we, like you said, Alan, we do participate in most of the major conferences, either on DevOps or testing. You know, there’s testing-focused conferences we participate in. We also participate in larger vendor conferences, like the Appalachian Summit and SAP’s SAPPHIRE. But what is most exciting for me is that, this year, we’re organizing our first US user conference, which will really be a conference focused on continuous testing. And we have scheduled that for April, yeah, here in – actually, no, no, wait a minute. It is scheduled for –
Shimel: I don’t know.
Johri: Oh, God.
Shimel: You know what?
Johri: Yeah, I should –
Shimel: I’m looking it up myself for you. Hold on here. Tricentis Accelerate? Would that be it?
Johri: Yeah, it’s – yeah, it’s on the 8th or 9th.
Shimel: San Francisco, May 7th to May 8th.
Johri: Yes. Yes. Yes. May 7th and 8th. Sorry about that.
Shimel: It’s okay.
Johri: But that conference is gonna be completely focused on continuous testing. We’re gonna have – obviously, show all our product capabilities and the like, but what’s more interesting and exciting is that we’ll have a whole bunch of large enterprise customers that are gonna talk about how they’re tackling continuous testing, as they are on their journey of DevOps, so it should be really exciting. I would really welcome everybody to come attend that conference in San Francisco on May 7th and 8th.
Shimel: Yep. And also you’re doing, it looks like, one in Vienna, Austria, October 9th and 10th. And ’cause – you know what? – our audience, like DevOps itself, about 36, 37 percent are US-based and the rest of the world makes up the majority. For anyone interested, though, you can go to accelerate.tricentis.com – that’s accelerate, A-C-C-E-L-E-R-A-T-E, at tricentis – or accelerate.tricentis.com, to get information on both of those. And we’ll probably be covering them from DevOps.com as well. Well, this has been a great introduction to Tricentis and a great discussion of the testing, Agile, DevOps market. Sandeep, thank you so much for joining us.
Johri: It was wonderful, Alan. Thanks a lot for the time. And I have a special offer for you. For your listeners, we will make some tickets available to the conference and you can distribute it to your favorite listeners, so we will follow up and get you a whole bunch of tickets to the conference that you can distribute to your readership. Your readership is exactly who we target and who we – that’s in our domain. That’s exactly our domain, so we’d love to have as many of your readers – or listeners and readers –
Shimel: As both, right.
Johri: attend the conference as possible. Yeah. Wonderful.
Shimel: Really kind for you. I will put it in the show notes as well as on the article on DevOps.com, for people who are interested. We’ll raffle ’em off, depending how many we have here. Sandeep Johri, CEO, Tricentis, powerhouse in automated testing. Thanks for being this episode’s guest on DevOps Chat and continued success.
Johri: Thank you.
Shimel: Thank you. This is Alan Shimel for DevOps.com, DevOps Chat. Thanks for listening, everyone, and we’ll see you soon on another DevOps Chat.