Lucky day

Greg Luck announced as new Hazelcast CTO

Lucy Carey
Hazelcast-lego

Ehcache inventor decamps from Software AG Terracotta to Hazelcast: JAXenter gets the full story on his unfinished business in the space, and hopes for the year ahead.

The news broke today that Java caching top gun
Greg Luck has now signed up for a CTO role on the Hazelcast
team, upping their arsenal against space rivals Software AG
Terracotta (Luck’s former employers) and Oracle Coherence. JAXenter
caught up with the Ehcache inventor and Hazelcast’s Miko Matsumura
last week for the full story.

JAX: What made you decide to part ways with
Software AG Terracotta?

Luck: I’d been at Terracotta for four
and a half years, which is quite a long time, and in fact, if you
go back to when I first joined Terracotta, out of everyone who was
on the executive team then, I’m actually the last person to leave.
So I stayed on quite a long time.

Software AG acquired Terracotta in June 2011 and
initially, Terracotta was run as a stand alone business, and we
were completely self-contained. And then, probably about a year
ago, a decision was made towards integrating Terracotta, basically
integrating the products into Software AG. So, sales, field
engineering, marketing, many functions gradually got integrated
into Software AG.

What we have today is, pretty much engineering and
product management are the only two functions that are left from
the old Terracotta. For me, I think there are more exciting
opportunities outside. And, I like startups. I’m very excited about
what Hazelcast is doing, and so I thought it was time to move
on.

Looking at your career to date, you seem
strongly geared towards entrepreneurial activities.

Luck: Yeah, I mean, I don’t really think
of myself as a ‘startup guy’, but, I have been involved in startups
for about 12 years, and they’ve all been very successful. Wotif.com
was an Australian startup that ended up IPO-ing for over a billion
dollars, and I was the chief technical guy there, and solved some
problems along the way. And then I sold Ehcache to Terracotta,
which was a transaction, and then, twenty months later, Terracotta
got acquired by Software AG. So it’s been a very interesting
career, the last decade or so.

So, going to a growing company like Hazelcast
is the next step in your startup story?

Luck: I’ve just finished defining the
standard in this area, so for the very first time, Java architects
will have, really like an architectural plank that says, “Here’s
caching and in-memory data grid. Here’s how you use it.”

It should be a standard part of your architecture, and
it’s totally new. We have independent software vendors like MIREX
and SunGard – just two examples where large enterprise software
vendors will add in JCache, which will then enable their customers
to essentially just plug us in for performance and prove latency
things like that. So, a standard way that you can take an
application and give it a turbo boost, pretty much.

At the same time that this is happening, and the size
of the market, which, according to Gartner, is growing at 40% per
year, was worth $250 million in 2013, and it’s headed for a billion
dollars by 2016 – while all this happening, what’s actually
happening on the competitive landscape is that there’s various
vendors and projects are kind of stumbling and tripping. So there’s
huge opportunity for Hazelcast.

If we look at this market segment, and we see that
some of the competitors that I’ve competed with over the years have
lost focus, or stumble, or have personnel drift on, then there’s
actually a huge opportunity for Hazelcast…which is actually
executing really well, to go in and actually seize that
opportunity. So I’m super excited about that.

What attracted you to Hazelcast – both
personally, and in terms of potential user appeal?

Luck: I’ve met
Talip
(Hazelcast’s founder) – we were on a panel
at last year’s JavaOne – so I was aware of Talip. Hazelcast has
developed a very good reputation as a first class open source
in-memory data grid.

There are so many people that I know who are actually
using it, who have chosen it, that I’ve worked with over the last
few years, and that has a huge endorsement to me. It’s very, very
rare to have that, and this is an area in which I have expertise –
I’ve written a few projects myself over the years.

So the idea of joining in and accelerating the success of
Hazelcast, to me, is a very exciting opportunity.

What do you hope that Greg will bring to
Hazelcast?

Matsumura: It was really for the
Brisbane thing, ‘cus we’ve already got Rod Johnson from Sydney.
Actually, for us, we’re just super excited, because we see Greg as
one of the industry luminaries.

He’s defining the JSR JCache specification, which is
part of Java 8 – he’s there on the Java Community Process, he’s
making these big JavaOne speeches…to us, he’s really, in a way,
the father of Java caching. And, you know, the creator of Ehcache,
the world’s most popular Java cache.

So, from our view, he’s part of our agenda to bring
the top talent in the world into Hazelcast and try to really
advance both in terms of technology, and also position in the
industry. We definitely position ourselves as the leading open
source in-memory data grid, and we’d like to hold that position,
perhaps get an even more exciting place in the market.

So essentially this is the Hazelcast dream team
coming together?

Matsumura: Yes – that’s what we’re
working on!

Greg, anything you’d like to add?

Luck: I feel like I’ve got unfinished
business in this space. And, this will probably be a story for
later this month – the long awaited standard in this area, I’ve
worked on for the last three years, and actually finished it in
December.

So hopefully that’ll go to final ballot. That creates
a standard in the space which we think will rapidly expand the
usage of in-memory data grid in the enterprise. There’s already
indications from some ISPs that they’ll be using the standard.

By standardising an area, it makes it safer for everyone
to use, it allows independent software vendors to create a
pluggable way in which solutions like Hazelcast can be added
in.

It’s a really good time to join, because I think the
market is going to grow significantly as a result of that. So just
the timing of when I joined – this thing’s going to come out, and
Hazelcast, which has already been going very, very well, has a new
market that it can enter.

Looking forward to the future, what do you
expect Hazelcast to achieve in the next year?

Matsumura: I’m happy to weigh in on
this! Obviously, we’ve got big aspirations and goals…In a year,
at this time, we’ll have rounded out our dream team, we’ll have
booked a significant multiple of 2013 revenue, plus a significant
multiple of 2012 revenue, and so we’ll continue to hug the
exponential curve of revenue growth. From a company and corporate
perspective, it’s very much on track to be  a high growth
startup.

On the Java side of the world, we’ll certainly have
our implementation of JCache complete, and we’ll be hopefully at a
standard open source way for Java to talk to RAM in large
clusters.

Caching will no longer be an after thought. In our
view, in a year’s time, particularly with JCache, there’s going to
be a tremendous feeling of, “Ah, memory first!”.

From our perspective, we feel that people are going to
completely change about the way they think about
caching.

I think right now, people think caching means
something you do later. Greg has this thing he calls operational
data store that we feel is going to be ubiquitous in the Java
world, you know, with the adoption of JCache, which is that people
are going to start thinking about in memory as the standard way.
And they’re going to start doing it straight out of the gate.

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