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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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A DevOps Tent Big Enough for Everyone

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My partner Ryan McIntyre says that any company doing business on the web should be practicing some form of DevOps. One of the biggest trends in tech today is DevOps, which is closely tied into Agile, Cloud, PaaS, and SDN.

If you remember Gene Kim’s guest post on the importance of DevOp post, or recognize some of the investments we’ve made in our Glue and Protocol themes that are focused on DevOps, such as JumpCloud and VictorOps, this will be a familiar topic.

Last fall, JumpCloud and Softlayer/IBM hosted a DevOps Conference in Boulder for the companies we’ve invested in.  At this conference, I heard of an effort to put together a new community site that would pitch a tent big enough for anyone interested in DevOps. This would be a place where technical folks could learn and communicate, where novices could find out more, and where business people could understand why and how DevOps matters.

Alan Shimel, who I have known for over 15 and has been writing for Network World and a bunch of other places was heading up the effort.  In typical Shimel fashion, Alan simultaneously put together a top flight collection of content providers while doing a deal and partnering  with Martin Logan who had a blog over at the domain, DevOps.com. If you are going to have a DevOps community media site, it is hard to imagine a better domain to for it to live at.

Since that time Alan and Martin have been working hard retooling the old blog into a full-fledged online community e-zine.  They launched the site this week with SoftLayer and JumpCloud as founding sponsors.  Another one of our portfolio companies, VictorOps is a sponsor and VictorOps CEO Todd Vernon has a regular blog on the DevOps.com site.

The list of contributors to DevOps.com reads like a who’s who of the DevOps world with a goal of having over 100 unique content pieces a month at DevOps.com. But media content is not the only mission.  Alan, Martin and team are planning to help amplify the DevOps grass roots efforts around the world through conferences and community events.

I am jazzed to see what Alan makes of it, but I am even more excited to watch the continued growth and influence of DevOps.

Defining DevOps Through Conversation

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Last week our portfolio company, JumpCloud - who is deep in the DevOps market with their automated cloud server management product – hosted the first annual DevOps conference here in Boulder. It was a huge success – we had over 200 people show up and engage in a full day of deep discussions on DevOps.

We are huge fans of the DevOps movement. Similar to how we got involved in the Agile movement early with our investment in Rally Software, we are long on DevOps with investments in companies such as JumpCloud, VictorOps, SendGrid, Pantheon, Authentic8 and others. We see DevOps instantiating the lean startup culture throughout an organization. DevOps promotes short cycle times, automation, and deep integration across a company with the goal of innovating quicker and more effectively against customers’ needs. In short, we view it as a cultural methodology that increases the odds of success for a company.

The day was fantastic, starting with Raj Bhargava (CEO of JumpCloud) and Paul Ford (SoftLayer) kicking things off with a short discussion about what DevOps is. I was next with a quick discussion framing why DevOps is critical to our companies and their customers. From there, we had presentations by Ryan Martens (CTO of Rally) on learnings from Agile, Nathan Day (Chief Scientist of SoftLayer) on the incredible automation at SoftLayer, and a number of great panels from CEOs, CTOs, and VPs of Engineering of DevOps related companies. Three of our portfolio companies – SendGrid, Mocavo, and Gnip – closed the formal part of the day with case studies on different areas of DevOps.

Later, the full group headed to Bacaro for more casual conversations around DevOps. I ended the night at Walnut Brewery with Raj and a few close friends watching the Red Sox lose game two of the World Series to the Cardinals.

The engagement on the topic of DevOps was really powerful. The questions flowed quickly – it’s clear everyone is struggling with how to define DevOps – what it means, who should be involved in an organization, and how to recruit for it. While the word is quickly becoming entrenched, it’s a new category with a wide range of opportunities.

When Raj came to me several months ago suggesting that we should put on a conference around DevOps for all of the Foundry Group, Techstars, and Bullet Time Ventures companies it was easy to be excited about it. I expected about 50 people to participate – it was amazing to look around the room and see 200 really engaged people. I’m proud of Raj and Paul for putting this on and thankful for all of the effort that our companies made to get there and participate!

What Do Tijuana and Minneapolis Have In Common?

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3D Robotics Iris Quadcopter

We believe great companies can be created anywhere.

When we started Foundry Group, we hypothesized that 33% of our investments would be in Colorado, 33% would be in California, 33% would be “everywhere else”, and 1% would be on Mars.

We still haven’t done the Mars one, but we remain optimistic about the possibility.

Today we’ve announced that we’ve made new investments in LeadPages (a company in Minneapolis) and 3D Robotics (a company in Tijuana, San Diego, and Berkeley). They were joined by our friends in Boulder at VictorOps (across the street from our office) who just raised a $6.5m financing.

Need a drone? That would be 3D Robotics.

Need split-test landing pages, launch pages, sales pages, and other conversion pages? That would be LeadPages.

Need your DevOps life to be less hellish? That would be VictorOps.

I love what we do.

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