autonomous

 If cars can drive themselves, so can infrastructure.

I recently got to interview our CEO Ross Schibler to find out where Opsani all began. Ross is a serial entrepreneur and innovator. He has watched his ideas manifest into successful products in many different markets. So, how did Opsani begin? One word. Autonomous. 

Basically, automation, right? No. 

So, what’s the difference between autonomous and automation?

Automation is doing the same task over and over. It’s very predictable. For example, a piece of code will always do the same thing with the same input. Think about it in the way of putting your car on autopilot; your car knows to stay in the lane or slow down when it needs to.

So, how is this different from autonomous?

Autonomy is learning and doing a different action in the same environment. Instead of putting your car on autopilot, your car learns traffic is bad at a certain time and will take a different route.

When Ross thought of the idea for Opsani, he was looking into how cars learn to drive themselves. These cars analyze the past experience of thousands of drivers and their behaviors. These cars will also learn from their experience. If you drive the car down the same route over and over again, it gets better at the route. Ross began to study how neural networks could be applied to teaching infrastructure to configure itself and the best outcome in performance, reliability, and cost. 

The major difference between autonomy and automation is that applications can think for themselves. Instead of just doing the same task over and over again, these machines are thinking and predicting based on based learnings for the best possible outcome.

If you look at the typical car factory, there will be a line of machines doing the same action. Whereas, If you go to the Tesla factory there machines are autonomous. Their cars are built on a bed, and their machines think for themselves. Let’s say the door is not ready to be put on the car; the machine will understand this and instead take it to a different part of the factory to add on a ready part. Autonomous is essential because things change, and machines need to adapt. 

Are there other similar products to Opsani?

Other vendors run experiments, but no one is doing it autonomously where it systematically learns and gets better every time. Basically, other products are just a reactive system instead of determining what configuration actually works best.

This is not Ross’s first time in Startup Land. Before Opsani, Ross founded a company called Rapid City. Ross believed he could use silicon hardware to do packet forwarding at a routing level. Before, you were only able to do it at an ethernet MAC address level. Everyone thought it was too complex. Previous routers were all written in software, but Ross believed if he could do it in silicon. If so, it could be made much cheaper and faster. This became an enormously successful product, generating $2B of revenue as a core enterprise switching router for F1000 companies.

“Crazy to see the loading docks with a product I built, and now people are buying it by the truckload.”

This, however, is not the only successful startup Ross has founded. Ross also started Topspin, delivering the first server switch – a high-speed server interconnect with virtualized  I/O in the data center. Ross had this idea he could dynamically map the boot driver to remap the datacenter according to demand and load dynamically. Cisco acquired topspin. 

Did you ever doubt yourself?

No, I had a strong belief in the basics. A piece of the problem was to focus on one or two environments instead of solving every problem for every possible environment. By keeping things focused, we built it. It wasn’t always easy, but we never questioned it.

Now, what are your 2021 predictions?

We will see more autonomy in transportation (like drones delivering packages and in cars driving themselves) as well as in software (both applications and infrastructure). We will see systems that can improve themselves and make themselves better. This will be the year that autonomy takes hold.

It’s exciting to see how Ross Schibler’s vision of autonomy and practical execution and Opsani drives the cloud industry towards the fully autonomous datacenter ideal.  

Learn more about the Opsani technology by setting up a demo now!