This week, we interviewed Ryan Pollock, VP Product Marketing & Developer Relations at Vultr. Founded in 2014, Vultr is on a mission to empower developers and businesses by simplifying the deployment of infrastructure via its advanced cloud platform. They seem to have perfected the art and science of cloud infrastructure with their wide range of cloud, storage products, bare metal and have become one of the largest independent cloud computing providers in the process. Read on.
J. Let us start with your brief introduction and your role at Vultr.
R: I lead product marketing at Vultr, and have worked in similar roles for Google Cloud Platform and DigitalOcean. If you’re unfamiliar with ‘product marketing’ – my day-to-day is largely a mix between working with our engineering team to create great new products, and working with our marketing team to tell the world about them.
J. Vultr recently announced the launch of new cloud data center locations in Sao Paulo, Stockholm, and other cities. Why did you open these locations, and can you tell us about your plans for 2022?
R: It’s Vultr’s mission to make high-performance cloud computing easy to use, affordable, and locally accessible for businesses and developers around the world.
I emphasize that ‘around the world’ because we really mean it – our commitment to international expansion was one of the reasons I joined Vultr. And, in the time since I joined in March 2021, we’ve launched Vultr in 5 new sites.
We’re well aware that location of compute is a key factor in end-user latency, and we’ve got much more in the works…just don’t want to give away too much right now.
But I will say this: our growing global footprint is going to make us the independent cloud capable of providing the best performance for end users, wherever they are.
J. Tell us something about the Vultr Marketplace- launched last year with features like a one-click setup for popular apps and stacks. How will it help your customers? How will it impact the user experience?
R: Vultr Marketplace is our ‘app store’, but everything in it is free to install, and we don’t charge developers anything to list their apps there. Our Marketplace is basically a convenience so that our customers can quickly get up and running with all sorts of software, oftentimes open source alternatives to managed services they would otherwise have to pay an awful lot for. We’ve got CMSs, databases, VPNs, blogs, eCommerce platforms and much more.
We see our Marketplace as a way to make Vultr easier to use, and to give external developers an opportunity to drive awareness for their applications.
J. Earlier this year, Vultr introduced Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) with the beta of the VPC peering feature. Please shed some light on the same.
R: Virtual Private Cloud is the ability to create distinct private networks within your Vultr account, so you can have instances communicating with each other almost instantaneously for free. No data is sent via the internet, so it’s all super secure.
The new peering capability allows you to connect distinct VPC networks, so you can send certain kinds of traffic between them, but otherwise keep the networks isolated and logically separate. Peering is something that might be useful if you’ve got, say, a database running in one VPC, and an application server in a different VPC.
For us, all this work around VPC is part of an overall initiative to make our network functionality really sophisticated, so that you can run enterprise workloads in Vultr, and potentially connect easily to services in Amazon Web Services (AWS) or other Big Tech clouds. We want you to be able to use Vultr in conjunction with other systems as part of multi-cloud deployments.
J. What will be the focus areas for Vultr in the next five years?
R: From a product perspective, you can expect us to stay rather focused on delivering the most fundamental capabilities of cloud computing. Obviously, that’s enterprise-grade infrastructure as a service, and as I said earlier, that’s got to be around the world.
Beyond that, we want to deliver managed services so it’s easier to build and operate applications atop our platform. We’re putting our finishing touches on Vultr Kubernetes Engine right now, and it’s really just the beginning of our foray into managed services. While we’ve no ambition to turn Vultr into an AWS clone with hundreds of services, we think we can provide most of the utility of AWS, with a smaller curated set of products that cost just a fraction of the price.
J. You have previously spent nearly two decades at Silicon Valley players like Google, Mozilla, Oracle, DigitalOcean, and now Vultr. What have been your biggest learnings these years, and how do you motivate yourself?
R: There’s so much I’ve seen and been a part of, that I can barely begin to convey…
It’s probably easier to convey my feelings now, more so than any specific learning.
And, my feeling now, is that the interests of the Big Tech companies are NOT necessarily aligned with your interests. And we all know just how critical tech platforms like cloud infrastructure, mobile operating systems, and browsers have become.
I’d say I’m motivated now to draw awareness to those areas where there’s an asymmetry between what users and customers deserve, and what Big Tech is trying to take. With respect to cloud platforms, the Big Tech offerings are a lot more expensive than necessary…what Andreesen Horowitz (a16z) called The Trillion Dollar Paradox. So, there’s a serious conflict with users right there.
J. To wrap up, one piece of advice for young professionals and enthusiasts looking to build a career in the big tech world.
R: The sincerest advice I can give to a young person who wants a long, prosperous career in tech is to stay curious and to fall in love with continuous learning. The tech industry is very unforgiving to those who rest on their laurels. Companies and the individuals who work within high-flying tech companies might feel like stars one day, only to find themselves fallen the next. So, if you want to succeed in tech, you’ve got to stay humble and hungry.