DockerCon Goes Enterprise : A Discussion with Instana’s Chief Operating Officer

Featuring Pete Abrams | June 20, 2019

In this episode of Stay Tuned With Opsani, we speak with Pete Abrams of Instana shares his thoughts on exactly what’s necessary to keep up with the fast pace of change developers are facing today. He also speaks about how DockerCon has evolved from a highly technical and somewhat niche event to a mature meeting of major enterprise businesses that are really looking into the road map of their software development process.

Podcast Transcription

Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Opsani Radio. In this episode Courtney Kehl speaks with Pete Abrams of Instana about how DockerCon has evolved from a highly technical and somewhat niche event to a mature meeting of major enterprise businesses who are emphasizing just how important containerization is to their software development process. We’ll also hear Pete talk on exactly what’s necessary to keep up with the fast pace of change developers are facing today.

Courtney: All right; so I’m here with Peter Abrams from Instana, so Peter, tell me a little bit about what you do at Instana?

Pete: Well, I manage marketing and business development for the company. I’m one of the founders. I’ve been working on the company for four a quarter years now and we’re doing well.

Courtney: That’s exciting; it’s always fun bringing a product to the market.

Pete: That’s right. We’ve been shipping the product for just over two years now; got over 200 customers now, basically trying to disrupt the whole APM space – application performance, monitoring and management, and having a good time doing it.

Courtney: Yeah; absolutely, I’m sure you are. So is this your first DockerCon; you’re with the APM space?

Pete: No; this is our third DockerCon so we did one in Copenhagen – I can’t remember where the other one was, maybe it was San Francisco the first time. It’s been a great show. The type of people here are a perfect fit for us. Real enterprise businesses figuring out how to make their software development and delivery better; that’s a perfect fit for us.

Courtney: Sure; are you seeing any trends over this last year, last six months?

Pete: Yes; you know, in fact I was talking to somebody else about that. Two years ago at this show I would call it really – you know a really technical geek show, you know; you could call it that. But then a year ago the real enterprise businesses started showing up and I would say they were investigating and sniffing, but this show, wow! Now classical enterprise companies are showing up on our booth stand.

Okay; yeah, we have now containerized massive portions of our applications and environment and are really now investigating what’s the best way to operate at scale; these big systems that enterprises have, right, so that real transition has really happened.

Courtney: Sure; so some of the questions then from an enterprise business point of view, is it around transitioning their environments, is it around optimizing their applications? What are you commonly seeing?

Pete: You know, it’s kind of all the above because once you containerize it at a large scale you kind of have to reinvent a lot of your operational processes. The question of how do we really make sure we manage properly security? How do we make sure we manage properly performance as we’re continuously delivering new code at a much higher pace, right? Remember, because that’s fundamentally the big difference. They used to all deliver code maybe once a month or every – even three or four months and now they’re doing it multiple times a day, so that really changes the operational outlook and they have to rethink their tooling.

Courtney: Sure; you’ve got to think about the performance of it, you’ve got to optimize it, you’ve got to also think about your cloud spend.

Pete: Their spending is a big question also; you’re absolutely right. You know, generally everybody seems pretty excited. They feel like the shift to the cloud method – maybe they call it the cloud native stack, right – has been successful. Now they’ve got to just step back for a second and rethink their tooling and their operational processes and really kind of kick it into high gear, so it’s a cool moment.

Courtney: Sure; so this is where kicking into high gear Instana is really playing a key role around this?

Pete: We are all about that because the key word that is – you know the single word that describes why we’re different is the word automatic. Traditionally, the APM space – well, the APM space is about a $5 billion annual spend per year, and the existing tooling in that space was all designed before the world of cloud native emerged and we were fundamentally designed for this cloud native world.

What that means is you need to be able to keep up with the high rate of change, the pace, and that’s where the word automatic comes in because you don’t want to have to kind of mess with the tooling. You need the tooling to just be there for you at any moment; it’s just automatically aligned to my whole stack, whatever is being delivered into it, what’s the latest set of micro services that have been deployed.

I don’t want to go back and have to program my tool to tell it how to think about this new code set in production; just tell me what’s going on with it, and so the word automatic is big and that’s where we shine.

Courtney: Sure; so Opsani actually would be a great complement to Instana as it sits with new applications and does performance tuning; sort of the next layer to it. I’ve talked to your customers as they look…

Pete: Does performance tuning?

Courtney: Performance tuning of Instana cloud applications.

Pete: Oh; interesting. Yeah; it’s also as people did their CICD delivery stacks, if you can fit into that sequence, again with the word automatic, it can be quite interesting to people so I could see that.

Courtney: Right; it’s an exciting place, it’s exciting times so I can certainly see that…

Pete: Because everybody is rebuilding the whole way they deliver software and its use; what a moment.

Courtney: You definitely hit it on the nose as far as two years ago there was a lot more of the end users, versus now it’s a lot more of the enterprise businesses coming through to really ask different questions.

Pete: Yes; and they have a whole different line of thinking, which is like how do I really operationalize this in a big way.

Courtney: Right; seeing the big picture?

Pete: Because they run billion dollar industries on this, right? It’s not little experiments anymore; it’s like I’m going to run my full business on this stack.

Courtney: And a major shift?

Pete: And a major shift, right.

Courtney: Great; well, thanks so much for your time.

Pete: You’re welcome; thanks for the opportunity.

Courtney: It’s been great catching up.

Pete: Bye.

Courtney: Okay; thanks.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to Opsani Radio. For more information about how Opsani can bring continuous optimization to your cloud applications please visit us at