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Video Victoria Livshitz, Cloud Pioneer and Serial Entrepreneur (Video) 36

Victoria is someone we'd all like to sit down with and learn from. She's worked as a software engineer for Ford, as an engineer for Sun, as founder and CEO of a company called Grid Dynamics, and as founder and CEO of her latest company, Qubell. Before that, she and her husband taught chess. Here's an article in which Victoria talks about "Envisioning a New Language" back in 2005 when she was still at Sun. Because of this and other early musings on what came to be called network computing, grid computing, and later cloud computing, Victoria has been called "the mother of the cloud." Maybe, maybe not. In any case, she knows a great deal about cloud developments. For this conversation she brought along Qubell's CTO, Stan Klimoff, who also knows his stuff.

This interview doesn't cover all we learned from Victoria and Stan, just all we could fit into our new "keep videos under 10 minutes" mandate, which we don't mind because, in return, there's a new button that lets you skip preroll ads longer than 30 seconds after only five seconds. Yay! We'll post another conversation with Victoria next week or the week after. We're looking forward to it and hope you are, too.

Robin Miller: I am Robin Miller from Slashdot and Victoria is our interview subject today. So Victoria can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what you are doing these days with money, which is kind of interesting?

Victoria Livschitz: Sure, Robin. Thank you for having me. So I’m CEO and Founder of a company called Qubell. And we are helping companies, developers be more innovative, reduce cycle times, go from a few and frequent releases to innovating continuously, developing continuously, testing continuously, deploying continuously, operating sites 24/7 when there is especially hundreds or thousands of changes, very early days of the clouds. My first company called Grid Dynamics, was started in 2006 and the premise was to help enterprises kind of understand what clouds are and adopt the cloud operating model and then start building mission critical systems to the cloud paradigm.

Robin Miller: Wait a minute..... this guy Scott McNealy, you remember him, someone like that?

Victoria Livschitz: I know Scott quite well. (laughs)

Robin Miller: Can you say to me before cloud, can you say the network is the computer.

Victoria Livschitz: The network is the computer.

Robin Miller: See, you said that as one practice word, most of people who were at Sun in those days, and I see that Stan just joined us.

Stan Klimoff: Good morning, actually 1:45 in the afternoon.

Robin Miller: Okay, Stan, why don’t you just, since just came in, tell us who you are and what you’re doing for a living these days?

Stan Klimoff: Oh, geez.

Robin Miller: Very briefly.

Stan Klimoff: I guess formally I am the CTO and Founder of Qubell. Together with Victoria running the company and what I do these days is I do pretty much everything. I am responsible for developing, maintaining, running the Qubell Enterprise Service. So I am the guy who kind of keeps the lights on in the house.

Robin Miller: Okay. And let me ask you a question since you are here and we haven’t – you are not wary of us yet, are you wary of Slashdot?

Stan Klimoff: I used to be an active member with the community several years ago, but it has been a long time now.

Robin Miller: Well, we’re returning to our Linux/Unix roots. This is not something that is under orders of management. It’s just something that the guys who work on Slashdot everyday are doing. I won’t say underground, but they’re doing, so you might want to check this site again, and as you know we’re doing video interviews with interesting people – and with you too.

Stan Klimoff: Well, I’m glad to be interesting enough for you. And it’s really good to hear that Slashdot is returning to the roots, several years ago most of the posts on the front page were about politics for some reason.

Robin Miller: Okay. Let me go back to Victoria. Now, can you tell me or will you tell me why, and like you said, you started as one of the earliest cloud mavens and I’ve heard you called the mother of the cloud.

Victoria Livschitz: Wow.

Robin Miller: Yeah, I know, this was by somebody I just said, hey, you know this person, and they said oh, yes, she’s like the mother of the cloud.

Victoria Livschitz: That is an over statement if I have ever heard one.

Robin Miller: Okay.

Victoria Livschitz: But I do have a firsthand experience working for Sun around 2004-2005. We were working on the first public cloud offering. It was known as Sun Grid. We’ve pioneered the utility computing model. The prized point was that dollar per CPU power, it predated the Amazon by about couple of years, and the genesis of my first company and then very much the genesis of Qubell, can probably be traced to those times. So, I was completely convinced that the word cloud by the way wasn’t coined back then, we called it grid.

Robin Miller: Network computing was the generic thing, you know the network was the computer.

Victoria Livschitz: Yes, I was clear that the future of virtualization, the future of datacenter meet the Internet will be the clouds. And we were designing one and we had a thought back then and again 2004-2005 that there will be these, we call them production utilities, those will be the clouds that run mission critical applications, but then there will be these developer utilities, and now it will be the clouds where developers host, deploy, test their code. I was actually charged with being the lead architect on the developer utility. And so back in those days, we were already trying to figure out well, what do you need to do to your developer tooling that tends to run on desktops or laptops so that they can natively debug and can meet the code where the actual development and deployment is happening on a cloud, that was probably 10 years ahead of the time where something like that is becoming practical, but that’s what Sun Microsystems have always been good for: try to predict the future.

Robin Miller: Okay. Stan, let me ask you this. What’s your background, I mean, just in five words, did you come out of Sun, did you?

Stan Klimoff: I did not come out of Sun. I was born in USSR and got my degree in computer science in Russia and I’ve been spending the last seven years, I guess, working with the companies in the Valley, through them, to build essentially a next generation grid and cloud platform, so I’ve been working with eBay, I’ve been working with Seagate, working with smaller startups and that was all before Victoria and I decided to go and create Qubell and that’s my first startup and founder of. So these days is mostly about creating new company, getting it off the ground and hoping for the best.

Robin Miller: So your primary skill is not necessarily cloud, anything, or even programming. No, I’m not saying it’s not, but I’m saying it sounds to me like your primary skill is in building startups at this point, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, everybody who does a startup should have at least, well, let me see, we have two veteran startup people here, one, two, actually me too I’ve been through a couple. Does it help you guys to have certain startup veterans onboard there, is that good?

Stan Klimoff: It’s good and bad. A lot of the people in the startup community are starting fresh if you will, it’s a big advantage, it’s a really big advantage and at the same time, it can sometimes lead to ignoring the lessons of the history, if you will. And that’s one of the things that we’re actually trying hard to overcome and Qubell is making sure that we learn from whatever history had to tell us and cloud computing is kind of new, but at the same time it leads to computing, grid computing, all of those things that exist before. Case in point like the most hyped technology right now is cloud, right? Which is this technology is not really new per se, but the whole idea that cloud or basically virtualization is now becoming mainstream, people are aware of that and it’s getting the momentum behind it. It is great. Something that you cannot do by being at Sun for instance. We know that Sun failed to promoting that and now the bigger community is standing up, at the same time stepping 10 levels stepped-up 10 years back and going five years into the future and that's a great thing, same thing is happening on the programming languages right now that could go on and on, so from this standpoint start-ups are definitely helping the other developing community for sure.

Robin Miller: Okay. Victoria, proprietary or open source, where are you guys?

Victoria Livschitz: There's a third answer which is where we are which is SaaS. Our platform is SaaS meaning that you actually use a service as opposed to running the program, be it open source or proprietary.

Robin Miller: Yes.

Victoria Livschitz: Everything is a matter of the system though and so the pragmatic answer is combination, all of the above. Open source is gaining huge momentum, especially in large enterprises whenever given a choice. We have a tendency of using open source technology, integrating with open source technologies, promoting open source technologies, but at the same time there is a tremendous both value and commitment than legacy out there that is all commercial and it cannot be neglected. So our view is that we love the open source community, we love open source tooling, we make sure that those are the first ones that we support ourselves and then after the business development and the integration in interoperability, we’ll also make sure that a complex enterprise great commercial software serves as well.

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Victoria Livshitz, Cloud Pioneer and Serial Entrepreneur (Video)

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