Announcing Our Investment in Algorithmia

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Enabling Companies of All Sizes to Centralize, Reuse, and Productionize Data Science

We’re excited to announce that Work-Bench is joining Google’s new fund focused on AI and machine learning investments, Madrona, Rakuten Ventures & Osage University Partners to invest in Algorithmia’s $10.5M Series A.

To the outside world, data science can look like a lot of razzle and dazzle. But at an enterprise grade and scale, it requires an inordinate amount of work to truly get a model into production. From siloed data sets and strict data governance policies, to a lack of central repositories for machine learning models in an organization, there’s no way to manage the full lifecycle of algorithm development - let alone the infrastructure to quickly and efficiently deploy and host compute intensive AI models. What’s needed is a seamless platform to build and deploy machine learning models - a Github and Heroku for AI development at the Fortune 1000.

Enter Algorithmia. The company’s mission is to make state of the art algorithms accessible and discoverable. They’ve built a public marketplace and common API for algorithms, functions, and models that run as scalable microservices, allowing anyone to leverage the latest in AI research from top universities and add a layer of intelligence to existing applications.

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Missed Spark Summit East? Here Are The Startups And Projects You Should Know About

Last week, startups, corporates and academia braved a Nor’easter to attend Spark Summit East in Boston. Spark is an open source, big data processing engine originally developed at Berkeley’s AMPLab by Matei Zaharia. Used behind the scenes at some of the largest data applications at web scale companies, Spark makes data analytics fast. Today, we’ve reached a pivotal moment where forward thinking enterprises like Capital One, Walmart Labs and others are working with Spark to better serve their customers. This post will explore key takeaways from Spark Summit, while providing details on the leading use cases and companies in the emerging ecosystem.

The most successful businesses over the next decade will deliver highly personalized experiences for their customers, powered by advanced streaming analytics. A key theme seen in a number of companies both presenting and exhibiting at Spark hinted at a common goal: building a best in class data pipeline to run models easily and securely. Webscale companies have robust data management practices through in house systems and a combination of open source and commercial tooling. This is, however, a gargantuan undertaking for a large enterprise and something that even the most forward thinking corporates are keen on setting up. Several of the attending startups - like Streamsets, Kofa, and Qubole - attempt to address this.

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Announcing Our Investment in Backtrace

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Today we’re excited to announce that Work-Bench is joining Amplify Partners, Rally Ventures, and Tribeca Venture Partners to invest in Backtrace’s $5M Series A.

Global software development costs more than one trillion dollars per year, and errors and bugs are a natural and unavoidable byproduct of writing code. Developers spend 50% of their time debugging software - a hugely inefficient time suck that detracts from an engineer’s time building software. Hundreds of billions of dollars are lost on this effort, and insufficient tools, processes, and data make debugging at scale a hairy challenge. Without a robust debugging platform, it is impossible to identify and map the similarities between errors and their corresponding root cause - a necessity in order to diagnose and fix the core issues.

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Why Kubernetes is Foundational for Fortune 500 Digital Transformation (and the Cloud Infrastructure Management Landscape)

About 18 months ago, tech publications began overflowing with news on containers and how they would radically transform enterprise IT. We set out to distill the hype in this new market by putting together a new series on our blog aptly called "The State of the Container." Based on our research, it became clear that this was a real market trend and represented a once in a decade transformation in enterprise infrastructure that would reshape the entire IT industry.

It was apparent that the container and application layer were only the beginning, and we began investigating where the gaps were – in areas like security, networking, management, and orchestration – to see where we could support the next generation of innovators. We spoke to more than one hundred corporate executives and founders focused on bringing a tidal wave of innovation to the enterprise IT stack, while making two investments along the way: CoreOS & Cockroach Labs. With more of the recent buzz building around Kubernetes, we wanted to take a moment to compare the pros and cons of other platforms, and why we believe Kubernetes will be crown jewel of container orchestration.

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The State of the Container, Volume VII

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The State of the Container curates the top news in the Container ecosystem on approximately a monthly basis. Sign up for our weekly newsletter to receive these posts via email.

2015 was undoubtedly a breakout year for containers. Not only did the entire industry come together for the development of the Open Container Initiative, but we saw a number of promising, young startups emerge to solve key technology gaps within the microservices ecosystem. Docker had several substantial releases during the year and added $113 million in financing to accelerate its market share and technology. Most importantly, large organizations actually started to adopt the technology, with forward-thinking organizations like Verizon demonstrating massive deployments and Goldman Sachs announcing production deployments. As a result, we’re seeing a proliferation in the development of new and advanced tools and tutorials, with even the container job market heating up. Further bolstering the ecosystem, Microsoft emerged as a serious partner and is heavily committed to furthering container support in their 2016 product line. Docker, all the while, will be adding support for unikernals across its line of products with its latest acquisition.

With that said, there’s still a long journey to an open standard, and we hope that the Open Container Initiative delivers its promise of an open container format - one that is backwards compatible with Docker. Regardless, containers will continue to evolve and influence IT strategies in 2016. We’re certain that we’ll continue to see Fortune 500s make containers part of their development workflow this year, and with widespread adoption, we may even get definitive answers to pain-points in container security, service optimization, and debugging.  Lastly, be sure to check out Clair for container vulnerability scanning, OpsClarity for visualizing app infrastructure monitoring, and Oracle’s strategy with StackEngine.

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3 Use Cases for Containers that Should Be Part of Your 2016 Enterprise IT Strategy

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Over the past year, while the IT Industry has been abuzz over Docker and containers, CIOs and CTOs have been struggling to figure out what containers are and what these new architectures mean for their organization. Although containers were designed for their simplicity and ease of use, the current land grab from startups and larger players has only led to more confusion for enterprises trying to realize the benefits of adoption. Heading into the new year, we wanted to identify three initial enterprise use cases for containers to have as part of your IT strategy for 2016.

These three use cases are the most common steps to adoption for IT organizations, which in turn can dramatically improve your system’s architecture and operations over time. As you begin thinking about microservices (a software architecture style in which complex applications are composed of independent processes communicating with each other using APIs) and whether it will work for your organization, here are some areas to explore:

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The State of the Container – October

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The State of the Container curates the top news in the Container ecosystem each month. Sign up for our weekly newsletter to receive these posts via email.

It’s been a whirlwind of new and exciting developments in the container world this past month. First and foremost, Docker acquired Tutum, a platform for deploying and managing containers in the cloud and on-premises. With this acquisition, Docker fills a big gap in their “build, ship, and run” app delivery pipeline for IT Teams, enabling an even better end-to-end solution on the deployment and management side while boosting team collaboration and efficiency. VMWare, not to be left out, is also addressing another critical hole in Docker, security. They’re working on preventing container escalation, and future versions of VMWare’s NSX should allow security admins to apply VM like filtering rules to containers and isolate the container from its physical host. On the startup side, Twistlock and Scalock (which recently raised funding) are also focused on hardening the container and enacting security policies. Lots more to come here, and we’ll be keeping a close eye for promising developments. Other companies that raised funding over the last month include CloudBolt,  Robin Systems and Bracket Computing. Lastly, be sure to check out Greg Taylor’s review of  Quay.io; a tutorial on how to set up Kontena on DigitalOcean; and how you can use the Folding@Home project to use idle capacity on your Docker hosts to help search for a cure for Cancer.

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Today’s HR Technology Landscape (and the Trends Shaping the Market)

At Work-Bench Ventures, we invest in early stage enterprise technology startups. HR is an area where we have been spending significant time. Our first portfolio company exit was True Office, which transforms outdated training content into interactive courses, using game mechanics and motivation techniques so that users actually enjoyed learning. The NYSE acquired the company a year after we invested to enhance its role as thought leaders in the Governance Risk Compliance space. We’ve explored the broader HR space as a major focus area with the help and guidance of Tom Carroll, a founding board member of Work-Bench and Chief HR Officer of R.R. Donnelley, a Fortune 500 communication services provider. Tom and other thought leaders in the New York ecosystem have been instrumental in helping us understand the landscape and challenges that accompany the space.

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The State of the Container – September

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The State of the Container curates the top news in the Container ecosystem each month. Sign up for our weekly newsletter to receive these posts via email.

Welcome back from the summer! The big news in August was Microsoft's preview of Windows Server 2016, which is capable of running Windows Container and will soon be able to run Hyper-V Containers. Rather than exposing a native Windows API for containers, Microsoft chose to support a Docker-compatible API. These developments and their growing partnership with Docker also point to a new Microsoft, one that realizes it must work well and integrate with competing technologies (Linux), rather than building a Windows equivalent. As a comp, Verizon demo'd 50,000 Docker containers launching in 100 seconds on a Verizon cluster powered by Mesophere's DCOS at MesosCon in Seattle in August. In other news, Docker released v1.8, which aims to be the fastest way to get up and running with Docker in Development, and Google’s Container Engine is now out of Beta. We've lined up a bunch of great articles for you below, including 6 Next Gen Monitoring Tools for Docker, a tutorial on developing with Go, and where the current state of container adoption stands.

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The State of the Container – July

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The State of the Container curates the top news in the Container ecosystem each month. Sign up for our weekly newsletter to receive these posts via email.

Reaching over 500 million downloads this month, Docker celebrated mainstream success at its annual 2-day conference, DockerCon2015, with many exciting keynotes, funding announcements and new partnerships. One of the most climatic moments of the event was when Docker founder and CTO Solomon Hykes and CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi met on stage to shake hands, and announced the launch of the Open Container Project, where everyone who has a stake in building a thriving container ecosystem agreed to work together to ensure common, open and platform-portable standards for software containers. For Docker, this means giving up some control, but it benefits the container ecosystem immensely.

In another major announcement, Docker launched the Docker Trusted Registry (DTR), a piece of software that allows enterprises to run containers securely in public clouds or on premise data centers. IBM, Microsoft and AWS have all stated they will resell the software on their platforms, and Docker has stated that DTR beta has attracted 800 organizations, with more than half of the participating companies in the Fortune 500. Make sure to check out videos from both days of conference if you missed it. In other news, Jérôme Petazzoni gave a great talk at HeavyBit on Lean Containers, and Pachyderm, RancherLabs and Portworx all recently raised venture funding. If you're somehow still new to containers, check out serial entrepreneur and Work-Bench Mentor Dimitri Sirota’s article on what container technology means for the delivery of software. We'll see you in August!

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