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A major challenge in enterprise cloud computing is keeping costs low, particularly as organizations transition more of their business online. Gartner predicts that through 2024, 60% of infrastructure and operations leaders will encounter public cloud cost overruns (i.e., overruns from services from hosts like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure). In fact, IDG’s 2020 cloud computing survey of IT professionals found that the top issue they encountered was controlling costs, following by data privacy and security.
The solution, argue vendors like San Francisco, California-based Sedai, is cloud management automation. Sedai today raised $15 million in series A funding to prove out this theory; the company claims its platform can automatically discover resources and analyze traffic and performance metrics to “continuously” manage production environments with “proactive actions.”
“To effectively manage scale, companies are rethinking the ‘shift left, shift right’ operations and automation that are slowing them down,” cofounder and CEO Suresh Mathew, who met Sedai’s other cofounder, Benji Thomas, while working on PayPal’s payments production team, said in a statement. “Sedai delivers … a platform that can act independently on [companies’ behalves], learn from them, and carefully measure the efficacy and continuously fix and improve right in production.”
Automating cloud management
Automating aspects of cloud management isn’t a new idea. For example, Blink, which launched out of stealth in March, offers a library of playbooks for executing common cloud automation tasks. Zesty, another vendor, handles cloud usage adjustments automatically, even estimating the time it takes to spin up and shut down resources and planning accordingly.
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Mathew asserts that Sedai’s secret sauce is its ability to infer a company’s infrastructure and metrics and determine service-level objectives for resources. Once the platform discovers the topology and the company selects which resources they want Sedai to monitor, Sedai looks for opportunities both to optimize cost and improve availability and latency.
“Our smart system will autodetect [the] topology, determine which metrics it should monitor for signals, and compute thresholds and alerts … Sedai’s smart system watches [cloud] environments and anticipates seasonality changes or potential outages,” Sedai explains on its website. “Sedai will safely deploy proactive actions on [an admin’s] behalf to avoid service disruptions.”
Sedai — which is agentless and can integrate with many existing ticketing and alert platforms — also offers what the company calls “smart scorecards” to help customers avoid fallout from buggy code in apps that they’ve deployed to the cloud. These smart scorecards let engineers compare the performance of apps in production to the performance of previous releases and roll back to earlier versions if necessary.
“Businesses no longer have the luxury of responding to issues after they occur. The expectation of release cycle velocity and the pace at which companies need to innovate demands that IT executives need to look at proactive autonomous systems to scale and deliver a better user experience,” Mathew told VentureBeat via email. “IT and operations teams are under pressure to keep systems available, high-performant and continually looking at how to optimize cloud deployments. For any IT manager who is looking to scale, an autonomous system is a must-have.”
Cloud adoption isn’t slowing anytime soon. A newly released survey from Spiceworks Ziff Davis puts the trend into sharp relief: Cloud spend increased from 22% of IT budgets in 2020 to 26% in 2022. Gartner estimated worldwide spending on public cloud services at $304.9 billion in 2021.
The large addressable market gives Mathew confidence that Sedai has legs, even factoring in the competition. Several businesses — including Tasq and Fabric — are already using Sedai to manage their cloud environments and production applications, he says, ranging from startups to larger enterprises undergoing a digital transformation and moving to cloud environments.
“Sedai has had a very successful beta and limited availability program. We currently have 12 customers [who] are actively using Sedai and already seeing significant benefits with availability, performance and optimization,” Mathew said. “Autonomous cloud management in production is a new shift in how companies are managing their cloud environments … As far as the cloud application management domain is concerned, the need for autonomous systems has grown with pandemic [as individuals use] more applications in their lives than ever.”
Norwest Venture Partners led 25-employee Sedai’s funding round with participation from Sierra Ventures and Uncorrelated Ventures. The new capital brings the startup’s total raised to date to $18.7 million.
Sedai plans to apportion part of the cash to opening an engineering center in Kerala, India. The rest will be put toward growing the broader development and engineering team, according to Mathew.
“The funding will be used to grow our engineering teams and expand our product to autonomously manage stateful workloads,” Mathew said. “In addition, we will be adding sales and marketing teams to support both enterprise markets and digital native companies.”
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