HashiConf 2018 – Interview with Armon & Mitchell

If you follow HashiCorp at all, you’re familiar with the co-founders – Armon Dadgar and Mitchell Hashimoto. While Amber Rowland had originally scheduled some time with Mitchell, there was so much good stuff in the Tuesday keynote (live blog here) it ran long disrupting executive briefing schedules.

Result = 11:40 AM call from Amber – “would you like to meet with both Armon and Mitchell at 11:45 AM for 15 minutes?”.

Despite being in the lower basement of the Fairmont from the keynote and having to sprint to the Mezzanine on the 2nd floor (oy…I’m out of shape – lots of stairs and navigating around semi-annoyed fellow attendees), the answer was obviously yes.


While I’d researched and prepared questions for Mitchell, I didn’t exactly have questions for both Armon & Mitchell. What’s below is more of a conversation than an interview and lightly edited from my notes last week while chatting with them. I’ll keep it in a Q&A form to hopefully make it more readable.

After I apologized for being out of breath and thanked them for the time, we dove in.

Andrew Commentary – I want to call out upfront that both Armon & Mitchell are incredibly approachable – just genuine, thoughtful people that it’s easy to be comfortable talking with.

Whether from the keynote today or in general, what excites you most right now?

(Mitchell) Most excited by how we can take much of what we’ve been doing with public cloud and make it work both practically and philosophically for private / on-premises datacenters.

(Armon) Related answer – the current power of and future potential of the ecosystem we’re seeing around HashiCorp products. Regardless of the enviromnent, we’re continuing to see that it’s “Workflows, not Technologies”. The workflows matter far more than the specific technologies and the workflows are what can be agnostic.

Andrew Commentary: “Workflows, not Technologies” is the first principle in The Tao of HashiCorp – go read it if you haven’t. I’m really glad to see them embracing both public cloud and on-premises in their toolsets – increases the ability for HashiCorp products (which seem very cool) to become pervasive in a good way.

What do you see on a 3 year horizon whether HashiCorp, cloud, or IT in general? (as they all interconnect)

(Combined Answer)

  • HashiCorp Perspective – will have a big shift in delivery models of HashiCorp products. Today customers receive a binary and run it – not very *aaS- like. Over time we’ll realign to deliver HashiCorp products as a service that’s cloud enabled.
  • Industry Perspective – multi-cloud is reality and HashiCorp is planning on that. There’s a focus on the Global 2000 and aspirations to even be the “VMware of Cloud”.
  • Technology Perspective – simplification is the goal but hard to predict specifics given the current explosion of innovation. This goes beyond multiple clouds but into developments such as Kubernetes and more.
  • Workflow Perspective – over time the goal is to have “hermetically sealed” solutions to drive simplification (find some references to that here).
  • Field Perspective – the HashiCorp field team talks to 200 customers/week. The main challenge customers bring up is heterogenity and multi-cloud. Investing in multi-cloud capabilities early is critical or it’s insanely difficult down the road – “acquisition proof your IT”.
    • Example = Company A using solely AWS acquires Company B using solely Azure. Imagine the pain/time/loss of people during IT integration – different cloud strategies won’t stop an the acquisition.

Andrew Commentary – cloud delivery of HashiCorp products makes so much sense. As well, I can’t imagine the organizational pain of a large AWS-only shop acquiring a large Azure-only shop. That scenario really resonates as a reason to future-proof – no board will let a detail like that stop an acquisition but the internal IT fallout/cost/pain could be immense.

What about Lowest Common Denominator? That is, only exposing common capabilities across cloud platforms. I know you get this question frequently but is still one I hear from people.

(Mitchell) I’m “militantly clear” on this. We don’t abstract cloud providers or hide capabilities. Example = HashiCorp customers still need to know how AWS works but we provide a common workflow (or as common as possible).

If capabilities are the same, it’s easy. When capabilities aren’t the same, we expose the unique items.

Abstracting capabilities is a graveyard of companies – doesn’t work until a market is stagnant and commodizited.

Andrew Commentary – this really resonated…especially the comment about abstracting capabilities being a graveyard based on what I saw personally with some of VCE’s efforts around UIM/P and UIM/O.

Do you plan to focus below the Global 2000 into commercial/mid-market or SMB? How if so? I realize some of this was covered in the keynote.

(Armon) This is where our open source model shines – we’re open source first and provide additional paid capabilities that enterprises need and can justify purchasing.

At core we want to build tools that we love and that we believe our customers love. Open source aligns with that and has allowed us to have a $0 digital marketing spend.

SMB is obviously free/open-source from an engagement perspective but commercial/mid-market is somewhat more like enterprise. We’re introducing new intermediate product tiers with additional capabilities but at an affordable price point.

Andrew Commentary – this seems to be a very intelligent approach to market segmentation while not killing the enthusiasm and “product love” they’ve seen so far.

That was all the time we had – I’ll be continuing soon with a longer blog post or two from my time with Mitchell.

Disclaimer: I attended HashiConf on a free media pass however paid for my own flights and hotel. There was no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I was not compensated for my time at the event (unless random booth swag from sponsors counts). No materials discussed were presented under NDA.

2 thoughts on “HashiConf 2018 – Interview with Armon & Mitchell

  1. Pingback: HashiConf 2018 – Interview with Mitchell Hashimoto, Part 1 | Think Meta

  2. Pingback: HashiConf 2018 – Interview with Mitchell Hashimoto, Part 2 | Think Meta

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