Brains Behind Browsers on Web 2.0: Page 2

Opsware co-founders Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz spoke to about how traditional management software is obsolete in today's Web 2.0.
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Q: You also discussed how this will mean more virtual servers for Opsware to manage, but does Opsware fear push-back from IT guys who don't want to pay for management of each operating system instance on a machine?

Ben Horowitz
Ben Horowitz

Horowitz: Well, [the IT manager's] cost is driven by how many operating systems he's running. So how many versions of Windows do you need patched is what his cost is based on, so it's pretty natural for us to price against that.

The value of Opsware is how many fewer operations you have to do on, for example, Windows. So how do you measure that? And whether there are six instances on a virtual machine or six on six different physical machines doesn't really figure into the customer's mind in terms of the pricing. Our customers have been pretty comfortable with us pricing on a per virtual instance basis.

Q: Is Web 2.0, with all of its mashups and wikis, driving this application explosion?

Andreessen: Perfect examples. Wikis, mashups, mapping applications. There's the new generation of all of these video-sharing sites. These new generation of startups doing video editing as a Web service. Doing the equivalent of Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro but doing it in a Web site. All of this social networking is generating content.

These are all applications that, speaking as someone who was in the dot-com bubble, that were not economically feasible to do in 1997. You had to buy huge expensive Sun servers with Oracle databases and EMC storage. They are economical now with Intel or AMD multi-core CPUs running virtualization software, running Linux. It's a great example of elasticity; these ideas are taking off in huge volume that have become economical to do.

Q: What's the value in buying the run-book automation provider iConclude?

Horowitz: Run-book is the first application of process automation. The run book is the set of processes the networks follow when something goes wrong. Something comes in from the network operations center and you've got to react to it. So, different things that happen if you're rolling out a new application. You've got a security vulnerability alert or you're making some kind of performance change. All of these are processes throughout IT that require coordination among networks, servers and storage.

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