With more than one million apps deployed per month, Bitnami is changing how people install and manage server software, making it easier than ever for everyone to run their favorite apps and development frameworks. Bitnami does the heavy lifting and eliminates the complexity of installation and configuration, helping anyone, anywhere, to deploy secure and update-to-date software in the cloud in minutes.
I was excited to sit down at OSCON with Bitnami Co-founder and COO, Erica Brescia, to learn more about how the company is bringing open source technology “into the mainstream” and implementing an innovative training program that is giving back to the community and helping them recruit top tech talent in Europe.
Tell our readers about Bitnami and your role with the company.
Bitnami is essentially an app catalog for server software. We package more than 130 different open source and commercial apps and make them incredibly easy to deploy—both locally and in the cloud, including on Microsoft Azure.
As for me, I’m the Co-founder and COO. I run marketing, finance, operations, business development, HR, recruitment, and sales. Never a dull moment!
Sounds like an exciting role. Can you tell us about your experiences building a startup in the open source space?
It’s been a really interesting journey – I’ve been working on this for over 10 years now, and open source has come an incredibly long way. When we started building out Bitnami I certainly wouldn’t have expected to be sitting here in a room with Microsoft talking about the great partnership that we have and all the amazing things that we can do in the future together.
We’ve ridden the wave of open source, if you will. We started in 2005, packaging apps for all the new open source application companies. SugarCRM, Jaspersoft, Alfresco, Liferay and MySQL would all come to us and have us package up their software to make it easy to deploy. I like to think that we really helped drive open source adoption into the mainstream by making it much more accessible than it would have been otherwise. Especially for business users who are less technical, they could now take an app and get it up and running quickly.
It’s been great to see how open source has gone from being kind of a “rebel” movement into the mainstream. We’re developing some new products and by default, we’re thinking about what our open source model is going to be, not whether or not we’ll have one.
I was glad to be in the audience for your OSCON keynote – can you tell our readers about it?
I was talking about the Bitnami boot camp, which is a program we developed to bring great engineers into our team—in Spain, in particular, for now. We provide free, intensive training on all the latest cloud and web technologies, including on the Azure platform. We teach promising engineers all of this great information and then we hire all the best folks out of that class. We’ve had almost 500 apply and ten percent have gone through the training. We’ve already hired 20 great people from this program. It’s really effective because they spend two weeks with us—spending time with our engineers, having lunch with us, working out of our offices—allowing us to observe how they work together, collaborate, and interact. And they get a feel for what it’s like to work at Bitnami and what kind of technologies we use.
In the end, the people we hire out of that program are a great fit for our company—not just from a skills perspective, but from a cultural perspective as well. What’s really cool is that the folks who we don’t hire are still getting a great education that would be hard to get elsewhere in Spain. And a lot of them have actually gone on to get jobs at other companies because of what we taught them.
How has the Microsoft/Bitnami relationship evolved over the years? How is this partnership helping customers?
It’s been fantastic. We first started working with the Microsoft Open Technologies team to put our library of applications on VM Depot, which is now rolling into the Azure Marketplace. That’s a really strong statement that open source is a serious part of Microsoft’s cloud business and I was excited to see that. We’ve been working with the Azure team to make sure that our images are optimized to work with the Azure Marketplace and the Azure platform in general.
We make it really easy to get great technologies deployed onto Azure, which is important for everybody. I mean, we provide everything from blogs to BI solutions to development stacks for Node and Rails and Django, and knowing that you can get an image on Azure that’s always up-to-date.
We publish new images within 24 hours of any major security issues or if there’s an update to any applications. Sometimes we have them ready even faster than that. Customers can know that when they’re getting an image, it’s up to date and secure and it’s configured to run out of the box. They get a selection of the best open source technology out there, and they can fire it up in a few minutes on Azure.
In summary, we help customers harness the power of open source on Azure in a really quick, easy, and secure way.
What do you think is important to tell open source developers and practitioners about Azure and about running open source workloads on Azure?
I think some developers have the misperception that Azure is the cloud to use only if you’re developing on the “Microsoft stack,” and not if you’re developing using Linux and open source. The reality is that Azure does a great job of running Linux and open source – when I tell people that about 1 in 4 workloads on Azure are Linux-based, they’re usually quite surprised. So the open source capabilities of Azure are there, but word needs to get out more.
Has anything surprised you about the Microsoft/Bitnami working together?
Yes! I’ve been really impressed with the level of support we’ve gotten from different groups at Microsoft. You know, it’s challenging at a smaller company to figure out even just the org structure of a very large organization like Microsoft. People have been really incredibly easy to work with and they’re very excited about what we’re doing and very interested in really getting their heads around everything we’re doing now and also what’s to come and exploring new ways to work together.
What’s next for Bitnami?
We’re doing a lot of work around containers in particular. We have released a subset of our applications already as Docker containers – they’re available right now in the Docker Hub. We released a tool called Stacksmith [beta], which helps you to build your own Docker containers from Bitnami-built ones and known good components and then receive update notifications and be able to very easily rebuild them as soon as there’s a security vulnerability or update to any of the components that you’re building on. We’re really excited to be working with several teams at Azure to figure out how to better support all of the efforts that Azure has going around containers, and Azure Stack in particular. You’ll see a lot more from us in this area.