When 3 years in stealth lands you $130M: Tom Gillis talks Bracket Computing success - SiliconANGLE

A year after emerging from a 3-year stealth operation, Bracket Computing, Inc. solidified its place in the cloud market with a Series C funding round exceeding $45 million. The company, founded in 2011, was the brainchild of senior technical staff from Cisco, EMC, IronPort, and NetApp.. Their mission was clear: Deliver innovative enterprise computing, including helping enterprises securely transition large chunks of their costly on-premise datacenter operations to hyperscale clouds.

Bracket Computing remained in stealth mode for more than three years before launching what it calls the industry's first Cloud Virtualization System, driven by its "Computing Cell," in October 2014. And, now, with previous investment rounds, the total amount of capital raised exceeds $130 million. New investors in the recent round included Fidelity Management and Research Company and Goldman Sachs, Allegis Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, ARTIS Ventures, Columbus Nova Technology Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, and Sutter Hill Ventures, plus strategic investors GE and Qualcomm.

SiliconANGLE recently spoke to Tom Gillis, CEO and cofounder of Bracket Computing, to find out how this new capital will further develop the Bracket Computing Cell, as well as help finance the technology's global rollout.


A new blueprint to the datacenter

Q: What will this latest round of funding do for Bracket Computing?

Gillis: Bracket is fundamentally redefining enterprise computing. Financial firms need to remain technology leaders, and we're working with some of the very largest as we define the blueprint for the data center of the future. Our vision is to provide a secure, advanced, virtual infrastructure that spans multiple clouds, both private and public, with one consistent set of capabilities. Having investors of this quality bolsters our efforts to build this ambitious technology.

Q: What were the challenges and virtues of being in stealth mode for three years?

Gillis: It was like writing software in a bunker for three years. We stayed focused on our big vision: Transform how datacenters are going to be built.. We had very close relationships with key customers throughout, some that pre-date Bracket.

Q: What would you say is the most radical aspect of Bracket?

Gillis: We represent a new blueprint to the datacenter that includes a software infrastructure layer with advanced security controls independent of capacity. 

Embracing change-the-world projects

Q: What are the pressures of leveraging relatively new concepts in cloud and security with such high-profile investors?

Gillis: It's relatively easy for us because the investors are looking for moonshot, change-the-world projects with bold thinking and a long-term prospective. There's definitely something to be learned: understanding what your business horizon is and finding investors that share that horizon. If I had investors looking for immediate returns, they may not be willing to do some of the bold design projects we're doing at Bracket.

Q: How have things gone since launch?

Gillis: Fantastic. I am pleasantly surprised by the acceptance we get. Customers range across verticals, and we've had a strong response from the financial services sector. I was expecting this market to be the last, but interestingly we find that to be the opposite.

Security teams from banks asked, "In order to succeed in the public cloud where you don't control the physical infrastructure, how do you add proper security?" So we added controls that are far more relevant than even traditional datacenters. Hackers can still get into private infrastructures, but we've added tight integration for encryption.

Q: How do containers facilitate new business models, and how do those new models translate to business opportunities for Bracket?

Gillis: We think the movement towards portability and abstraction is inevitable. We're contributing to this and benefitting from this. Our dev team has been using containers like Docker to develop and deliver our own code. Customers are using containers atop Bracket. People have called Bracket a container for infrastructure (as opposed to an app container).

Bridging a gap

Q: How can a company like Bracket help address the perceived laziness or challenges for CIOs and IT to stay on top of security trends, system-wide updates, outdated software and practices?

Gillis: That's the inspiration behind the company. We saw a gap between what business needs and what the industry was able to deliver. Response times are slow, but we need to be able to respond immediately. Fail fast. This is imperative.

The combo of Bracket's secure IaaS and flexibility of public cloud is the best of both worlds. Wrapping data with our encryption process leaves IT in control. We want to turn IT into a partner that can tackle hard problems and innovate.

Q: How can your model of consistent controls across multiple providers translate to Industrial Internet?

Gillis: One of our customers is GE, and we are thinking about these very issues. By providing one set of controls across multiple providers, it's a lot easier to deploy their IoT platforms while maintaining high levels of security for critical components.

Focusing on the possibilities

Q: You're officially a serial entrepreneur; what's something you wish you would've known launching your first startup?

Gillis: If I knew how hard it was, I wouldn't have done it. That's been true for all three of my startups, all of which have achieved meaningful measures of success. This is why a good entrepreneur does not dwell on the reasons why something can't be done. They focus on the possibilities.

Q: What is your secret to managing telecommuters at a cloud company?

Gillis: The cloud is moving fast. As a result we need to constantly innovate. We find that the best innovation comes from people interacting with people. Since we are still small enough to all fit into one office, we focus on physically being in the office together and using telecommuting to fill in the many gaps due to travel, personal issues, etc. This model has been working well for us at this stage of the business.

Q: Working in stealth mode for three years meant Bracket developed some very trusting relationships with a handful of clients. What's your dream collaboration?

Gillis: In the enterprise, 50 percent of what the customer buys is tech, and 50% is the team. We have been very successful by deeply engaging our product development team with our customers and really creating a joint development effort. We put development engineers — not just field people — on site with the customer to truly immerse themselves in the customer's world and walk a mile in their shoes. Smart customers that allow us to engage like this help us to build the best products and therefore serve our customers better.

Q: Anything else to share?

Gillis: As I look at the tech industry, one thing I see is the speed at which tech changes are growing. IP itself is becoming of fleeting value. What matters more is the people that produce the IP. At Bracket, the founding concept was: How can we create an environment that attracts, motivates and retains the best people possible? Create an environment where people can be their best? We think about how we communicate with each other, snacks and parties, regular performance reviews and share feedback.

About Tom Gillis

tom_gillis.41923b80Tom Gillis is the cofounder and CEO of Bracket Computing, Inc. He founded the company with the goal of delivering enterprise computing driven by business needs, not hardware limitations. Prior to Bracket, Gillis was VP/GM of Cisco's Security Technology Group, a leading business unit responsible for Cisco's network and content security product portfolio.

Prior to Cisco, Gillis was VP of marketing and part of the founding team at IronPort Systems, acquired by Cisco in 2007. He was VP/GM of media at IBEAM Broadcasting. He has held leadership roles at Silicon Graphics, the Boston Consulting Group, and Raytheon Corp. Gillis holds a BSEE from Tufts, an MSEE from Northwestern, and an MBA from Harvard.

Feature image via Pixabay

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