The whole Data/DataOps space is becoming very hot. For StorPool, it is more of a case of the rest of the world catching up to what the company has been doing for a while now. It is the leading distributed block storage provider globally.
In this DevOps Chat, we speak with Boyan Krosnov, co-founder and chief of product at StorPool. Boyan gives us the background on StorPool as well as a good look at the state of the distributed storage/data market.
As usual, the streaming audio is immediately below, followed by the transcript of our conversation.
Alan Shimel: Hey, everyone, this is Alan Shimel. You’re listening to a DevOps Chat here on DevOps.com, and my guest in this DevOps Chat is Boyan Krosnov from StorPool.
Boyan Krosnov: Hi, Alan.
Shimel: Boyan, I know it’s not perfect, but it’s the best I could do with your name, I apologize. But why don’t you say it for our audience?
Krosnov: Sorry—repeat, please? I did not hear.
Shimel: Why don’t you say your name for our audience?
Krosnov: Yeah, so, my name is Boyan—Boyan Krosnov, but in, kind of for English speakers, most people say Boyan Krosnov, like, with the stresses at the wrong places, but it’s perfectly okay, you know, I understand.
Shimel: As long as they don’t call you late for dinner, as we say here, right?
Krosnov: Yeah, okay.
Shimel: So, Boyan, your company is StorPool, yes?
Shimel: And what’s your position with StorPool?
Krosnov: In StorPool, I am one of the Co-founders, one of the three Founders in the company, and my role as a Co-founder from the very beginning has been kind of the glue between technology and business and the product person in the company, the Chief of Product of StorPool.
Krosnov: And the other two Co-founders, you know, respectively take, are focused on technology development and the other Co-founder on strictly business, who is our CEO, right.
Shimel: Someone has to do that. Okay.
Krosnov: Someone has to do the business stuff, yes.
Shimel: Someone has to. Before we jump in, Boyan, to what StorPool is about and what you guys do, why don’t we talk a little bit about your own personal journey? How did you come to found StorPool? What’s your background?
Krosnov: Yeah, right. So, back in the ‘90s, I used to do competitive programming, so like, from a fairly early age, I got very interested in informatics or computer science, right? And from that, later on, I went into networking and ISPs, later on, I had a startup around something called packet processing and nowadays software-defined networking.
And from that, at the later stages of that startup before we folded that, we found this gem of an idea of software-defined storage before it was called software-defined storage, right? So, we didn’t know it was called software-defined storage; the term wasn’t coined yet. That’s, like, in 2011.
Krosnov: And, from that, we founded StorPool. So, I got with the other founders and did, like, a whiteboard exercise of what an ideal storage system would look like. And that became the architecture of our product afterwards and we’ve been building on that for the last years, right? It’s eight years now.
Krosnov: And along the way, we got—yeah, so, I’ve lived in a few places, not just in Bulgaria. I’ve lived in Iceland and the U.K. and Malaysia and a few others. And so, in StorPool, you know, we started with the idea, implemented it, got it to first production use some five, six years ago, right, and since then, we’ve been expanding it in a very kind of real business organic way, meaning pretty high growth, but at the same time, very customer-oriented. So, it’s very—the things we build into the product are things that our customers demand, right? It’s not like a completely greenfield.
Shimel: Yeah, everyone already has some data.
Krosnov: We do stuff that matters for our customers, right?
Shimel: So, Boyan, listening to your story, I’m reminded of my own. You know, I got into technology in the mid-‘90s when the web first started coming in, it was just starting to get commercial, and we were storing websites. It wasn’t called hosting. I thought I was a virtual real estate person, [Laughter] because as I needed more land, I put another hard drive in the machine, right?
Shimel: And by about 1997, people started calling that web hosting.
Shimel: And we sold the company in 1998, we ended up doing a whole IPO and that whole thing. But, you know, at the end of the day, what we were doing is, we were just, we were storing people’s websites. I was selling virtual real estate, renting virtual real estate out. And it sounds like a similar thing you, before there was a thing called software-defined storage, you recognized that there was a need in the market for people to do, to be able to store stuff without the expensive, I mean, you know, back—I remember in those days buying EMC boxes, right?
Krosnov: Yeah, yeah.
Shimel: And some of the Sun and IBM—was it IBM Sharp? I forget. But all of these huge SAN—you remember the days.
Shimel: Millions—millions of dollars in SANs and all of that. And then, [Snaps fingers] it was like a flip—like a switch flipped. People started saying, “Wait a second, we could do this in software, for a lot less money with a lot more advantages.”
Krosnov: Yeah, yeah.
Shimel: And it sounds like StorPool happened to be right there at the right time when this was coming together.
Krosnov: Yep, so, kind of the reason we started it was a few conversations with, actually, hosting companies.
Krosnov: Actually hosting companies and some banks, but it started with hosting companies, and at that time, there was this big movement in hosting—everyone wanted to be the next DigitalOcean, right?
Krosnov: Everyone wanted to have, like, a public cloud service with virtual machines and be like Amazon and DigitalOcean. And there were architects in these companies that were trying to figure out how to do it and they couldn’t and the one piece that was missing was software-defined storage. It was, like—they couldn’t make the business model work with standard SAN from HP or IBM or EMC, right? And we had to find a solution that worked for them which runs on standard servers—like, it’s not a proprietary box.
Shimel: Understood, understood. So—I mean, but that was 2012. Now, here we are, 2020. Software-defined storage is a much better-understood term.
Shimel: You know, I think it’s gone mainstream, if you will, right? People understand it and use that.