December 15, 2009

At Basho, we’re a very lucky bunch of people.

The first paying customer for the Enterprise edition of Riak was Mochi Media. They first rolled it out on a low-profile system. I won’t lie to you by saying that everything was perfect; any interesting piece of software will show its warts the first time it is placed into an unforeseen environment. The people at Mochi were open, communicative, and interested in learning more about how Riak worked. As they became comfortable with its behavior operationally and under load, they put it into bigger and more business-critical applications. Those first experiences with Mochi helped us to reprioritize our early to-do list to best serve others like them, and we also gained a valuable advisor.

We’ve signed a few great customers since then, and the latest such is Collecta. Long before they started using our product inside their search service we were having great conversations with them about their use of Webmachine and other topics. Jack already told the story about the genesis of Riak Search better than I can, so you should read his account of it. Both the ideas and the very concrete problem set posed by Collecta gave John exactly what was needed to focus the project and deliver something really cool.

An important part of building a business around open source software is that it isn’t just customers that care about the quality of your work. In addition to the valuable experiences we have had with customers, direct open source contributions have made a big difference as well. Since shortly after we first released Riak under the Apache 2 license, we have received valuable improvements in code, documentation, and ideas from people around the world. A few of those have become customers since then, but we are also deeply grateful to all of the others. We hope for Riak to thrive in various open source contexts, and it is because of those people that we are hopeful.

We’re working this week with a potential new customer that wants to store and process terabytes of data in a single Riak cluster, and in a very visible public-facing system. Just like with Mochi and Collecta, the fact that we are talking to some very smart, capable people makes our job a pleasure even in the face of interesting new challenges — perhaps especially then.

We really are lucky to work with such excellent people.

Thank you to the customers of Basho and everyone else who has helped us so far on the road of continuous improvement.

Justin