“Everybody’s so excited about containers, but from an adaptation standpoint, I ask myself why aren’t more people doing this in production at scale if it’s so easy?” Bernstein says.
The reason is because most enterprises aren’t conditioned to consume software, he says.
“Most organizations have innovative people in them. I just don’t think the structure or the air cover or the politics let them be innovative,” Bernstein says. “People think it’s hysterical that I left Apple to go to EMC at the time, but the leadership was serious about changing the culture.”
Today, that culture involves asking a CIO to ask the board for millions of dollars and several months to complete a project. “Agility” is an overused word, but that’s what’s missing from this process, Bernstein argues. You can’t reverse that decision if it turns out to be bad, or if technology changes. Enterprises need to shift to a culture that’s more fluid, where backtracking is a possibility.
“Three or four months into the project, I may realize it’s not going to be what we need, but I am not incentivized to come to you and say, ‘Remember that whole project plan? I’m going to do something else,'” Bernstein says.
EMC & Open Source
Code is an example of EMC itself trying to make this shift. Created in 2014, with Bernstein joining a year later, the organization was home to EMC-created open source projects and also served as a conduit to the developer community. The unit now has about 20 software engineers contributing to open source projects, some of which were initiated by Code itself.
“We’re not a marketing organization. We’re an engineering organization,” Bernstein says.
“We play a role in a segment of the market you would not think an older company like Dell or EMC would play in,” Bernstein says.
Code’s most popular creation has been REX-Ray, an orchestration tool that lets a container use different types of storage. That’s a problem Bernstein faced for two years at Apple, as the company migrated applications to Docker and Mesos. He wasn’t able to solve it — and then EMC came calling, inviting him to just come work on “something cool,” as Bernstein puts it.
Other projects nurtured by Code include RackHD for hardware management and Polly, a REX-Ray offshoot that acts as a storage scheduler. It’s all open source; the organization has a Slack channel for developers to discuss projects. The channel has more than 2,300 participants, according to the Code website.
In addition to the culture change that’s needed in enterprises, Bernstein thinks there’s a reckoning coming among software vendors. Too much money has gone into containers and related technologies with too little to show for it.
“This has to be the year for it, otherwise these ridiculous valuations are not sustainable,” Bernstein says. “One of the facts behind this ‘winter is coming’ idea is that at the end of last year, ClusterHQ closed their doors.”