Adventures in Building a Modern Time Series Platform
By Evan Kaplan / Feb 12, 2018 / InfluxData, InfluxDB
Today we announced that we secured $35m of additional capital in a Series C Financing led by Sapphire Ventures with participation from Harmony Ventures, and our existing Venture Partners Battery, Mayfield, and Trinity. It’s an honor to add Sapphire’s Anders Ranum to the board and we look forward to adding his deep operational experience to an already talented board.
While it is great to be able to attract growth capital from such high-quality sources, I have learned the hard way that raising capital to support growth is not the time to take a victory lap…you save that victory lap for when you have built a business that is so compelling that it generates enough capital to support its own aggressive growth initiatives. That will come for us in the not too distant future but now its good time to take a moment to reflect on the evolution of our Influx business and the trajectory forward.
The Journey to Real Time...
The InfluxData journey started with Paul Dix, our Founder, and CTO, who articulated a vision of building a modern Time Series Platform from the ground up that developers would be excited to work with and would dramatically reduce, in Paul’s words, the “time to awesome.” This north star of focusing on making developers happy, making it easy to get started, and easy to scale continues to drive the company forward. I joined, just over two years ago, and in conjunction with a super-talented group of developers, we have executed on and delivered the first instantiation of that vision in the form of the amazingly successful open source project InfluxDB and the broader TICK Stack.
When we started down this road, time series data was considered a niche, even a backwater market reserved for proprietary data platforms deployed primarily in highly specialized finance and scientific computing use cases. Well, a lot has changed over these last three years, and time series data has become the fastest growing category in the database market. While we know that building a compelling business takes a little bit of luck and timing we like to think that the work we have done around Modern Time Series has helped grow the category…and we don’t intend to stop.
The "Age of Instrumentation"
Our original thesis was that the “instrumentation” load was going to increase dramatically with the rapid deployment of sensors in the physical world (IoT), the emergence of new application architectures, and the concurrent movement towards more ephemeral application delivery models (containers, microservices, serverless). So far our original thesis has proven correct: as leading developers and architects focus their efforts on the real-time observability of all the components of their systems, they have adopted InfluxData as the platform of record to meet those demands.
As I look back over the last two years, much of our early success has to do with Paul’s clarity on what purpose-built really meant. He believed strongly that in order to handle the speed and volume of the coming “Age of Instrumentation” our platform would have to be built from the ground up to handle metrics and events at a scale not seen before, and as importantly in an intuitive way that empowered developers to rapidly build scaled monitoring and control systems.
By aiming for a purpose-built platform, we set out not to build another sub-optimized application layer that sits on an existing SQL or NOSQL database. Experience told us that would be a dead end and we would hit a local maxima quite quickly. We could already see that commitment to real-time observability and next-gen AI-driven control systems was increasing the rate and scale of the instrumentation workload exponentially…
From the start we decided to take a radically different approach: first, we built a full end-to-end set of services (not just a database) running on a time-series-specific storage engine that from the ground up was designed to handle real-time monitoring and control workloads at speed. Next, we delivered a horizontal scale-out model that ensured high availability systems could be deployed in a cost-effective way. We felt that by taking this focused approach, we could make developers’ and system architects’ lives significantly easier, and dramatically accelerate the time required to support the instrumentation of the next generation of IoT and cloud-native systems. That vision has served us well, and now only six quarters into shipping our first commercial product, we have become the clear technical and market leader in the space.
Our progress was not without challenges. We started down the path supporting SQL alone but realized (with some help from some High-Frequency Trading customers and our friends at Prometheus) that an easy-to-use but comprehensive functional query language was going to be much more powerful for the kind of systems that developers were building. We also struggled with business issues on how to monetize the platform and keep the developer community happy as we funded an expansive platform development effort, but now I am pleased to say we have worked through those challenges and with a very successful business model under our belt and investment capital in hand, we are looking optimistically toward the future.
Today we are eighty strong. About half of us are in San Francisco and the other half are in London, Italy, New York, Denver, Boston and various other places on the planet. In addition to expanding our sales marketing efforts and opening our EMEA office, we have some very big product development plans. To that end, we intend to more than double our development team in 2018 and we are always on the lookout for talented folks from all over the world who love to write, as Paul would say “sweet code”.
In closing, we have built a very strong team. We believe deeply in Open Source. We are passionately committed to our community of users, and as a team, we are committed to taking risks and learning quickly.
Finally, I am honored to work with this amazing group of Influxer’s, an outstanding group of investors, a talented developer community, and a group of market-leading customers who are teaching us new things every day. We are on a mission to help build this category for all players and deliver on our vision of being the foundation layer for next-generation monitoring and control systems.
Feel free to hold us to that : )
Onwards and Upwards…