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Friday, February 22 , 2019, 3:45 am | Fair 46º


Michael Crandell of RightScale Talks Cloud Computing

The founder and CEO discusses the growth of his management company and the future of cloud computing

Animoto, a tool that automatically transforms digital photos into a sleek video slideshow, ran a Facebook promotion four years ago that went viral.

At the promotion’s peak, 20,000 new people were signing up every hour, and the company had to increase its number of servers from 50 to 3,500 in three days.

That couldn’t have been done before cloud computing, according to Michael Crandell of RightScale, a cloud computing company that partnered with Animoto.

“Access to this kind of power and technology gives startups a whole new leverage to get going,” Crandell told about 75 people at an event hosted Thursday morning by SABER at the University Club of Santa Barbara. “For very little money you can suddenly start a business and leverage computing power or communication power over the cloud that wasn’t possible before.”

Since launching in May 2007, RightScale has been an industry leader in cloud-computing management and expanded into the 26,000-square-foot Business and Technology Center last year.

In the simplest of terms, cloud computing takes services and tasks traditionally performed by computers to the Web. It has transformed the music industry through platforms such as iTunes and apps such as Pandora, enabled social media and impacted health care through the electronic health-care record. Cloud computing provides automation for companies that have a constantly changing consumer demand, such as Animoto’s viral marketing campaign, powering its service through elastic compute cloud (EC2) technology.

The current trend has been in private clouds, in which individuals create a cloud-like architecture out of their own data centers, and hybrid models that allow companies such as RightScale to view and manage servers in public and private data centers from one pane of glass.

The company specializes in cloud management and has grown to 205 employees, or “cloudies,” in five years, launched 4.5 million servers and signed up more than 50,000 users.

“Our vision was to take the power and capability offered by those massive data centers offered up on a very granular basis — launch a server, launch 1,000, launch 10,000, pay by the hour and turn it off when you want — and provide another level on top of that that would help manage it,” Crandell said. “We support data centers like this for a number of public cloud providers, like Amazon Web Services and Google, as well that build their own structures internally.”

Crandell offered several tips for entrepreneurs managing a rising startup: A company’s culture trumps strategy, companies are built by teams, encourage experimentation not blame, be positive and don’t take oneself too seriously.

“We all had a conviction and a belief that this new way of computing was going to change the way IT is consumed and delivered,” he said.

But why have companies such as RightScale, Citrix Online, Eucalyptus, FindTheBest, lynda.com and AppFolio thrived in Santa Barbara?

“The tools that you can leverage to start a business quickly in the software space are just wonderful,” Crandell said. “We are ourselves consumers of many different software of service packages to run RightScale, like Salesforce, we use that style of computing. We also use a number of tools that make it easy to collaborate with remote teams like Skype and GoToMeeting. Santa Barbara is a great place to live and UCSB and SBCC have been great funnels of super people for us and we could expand beyond the borders when we needed to.”

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk and @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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