As technologies continue to get abstracted and cheaper, more people are becoming developers and a lot of them are self-taught. Even designers and animators are writing codes today. Trends show that the developer population all over the world is growing considerably. The numbers right now are anywhere between 23-30 million, and it’s going to be 100 million soon, says Shiven Ramji, SVP of Product, DigitalOcean. The Cloud service provider wants to address these next-gen developers who are focused on bringing new ideas to life and are working mostly in small startups or businesses. He explains how it is trying to empower these developers by addressing their pain points and reveals what’s in store.
How do you enable the next generation of developers?
As we are very hyper-focused on a specific market segment, we keep the products simple, easy and intuitive to use, making it easier to take ideas to production as fast as possible.
For example, a lot of such businesses find managing cloud infrastructure and DevOps experience very complex. So, we keep the product very simple and take on more management services and operations to let developers focus on their core areas. But simplicity doesn’t mean fewer features or less power; it means tailoring the experience right for the developers. So, if you know DevOps well, we are not taking your configurability away.
We also keep the pricing simple, predictable, and such that it scales as you scale. Generally, cloud consumes a big portion of the operational costs for new businesses, especially if it’s a digital startup. Hence, instead of charging customers for every single add on and feature and service, we take a group of features or products and capabilities, package them together so that the customer has predictable pricing.
Now, if the idea is successful and you are now scaling and growing, your next pain point tends to be around support and security and we try to include them in the product experience. We are also among the top five destinations globally for developer learning content.
How do you hand-hold your customers throughout this journey?
Unlike enterprise-focused companies, we do it very little consulting. We focus on building products and experiences and try to invest as much as we can into the self-service part. We believe in scaling self-service and the idea is simple. We try to automate as much of the operational processes that a customer has to go through. We also try to guide our users as much as possible with everything from product documentation to tutorials, so that they can self-serve themselves. Now, of course, there are moments when customers do require specific help from us and this is where our support comes very handy.
Some businesses asked us for premier support, which we have started piloting with select customers in the US currently, and we’re slowly expanding that pilot to more customers in different markets, including India.
How do you plan to meet the scale-up needs of these customers?
We have been scaling our platform to continue to serve the startups that are scaling significantly. There are two ways to look at these scale-up requirements. First, does your platform scale in general? For example, can it handle the sudden traffic spikes? Second, do you have enough offerings for me to continue to use your services? We’ve made massive investments in scaling both.
We have had our own story of scaling and supporting half a million active customers as well. We’ve delivered lots of products and features rapidly over the last year, to continue to be a platform of choice for the startups and a platform that they can rely on as they scale.
Could you give us a glimpse into some of the recently launched offerings?
Two recent launches that have surpassed our initial expectation are the Managed Kubernetes and the Managed Database-as-a-Service. Despite being in limited availability, the adoption for both the products had been way higher than what we initially anticipated. The customer feedback and response from developers is also extremely positive. Our managed database offering starts at just 15 USD a month, which also acts as a good entry point for customers.
How do you help developers deal with the challenges thrown in by emerging and complex technologies such as AI and ML?
We have plans to provide some building blocks. In our future products roadmap, we plan to provide GPUs and an AI/ML sort of experience on top of it. However, we do have some select applications for AI and ML. We provide CPU-optimized virtual machines or droplets to run the AI/ML workloads. A lot of companies building text analytics are running their AI ML workloads on our platform.
The real problem in the AI ML space is that there is a lot of data is messy and not normalized. Some data scientists want to do modelling, training, and inference and there are data engineers, who are doing all of the backend normalization and cleansing of the data. So, I feel there is an unmet need of making that experience simple, and easy. So, we are trying not to provide just the GPU, but give the software stack on top of that and make AI and ML accessible to even more people.