The Matrix, But Make It Software: Discussing Cloud Computing With Ev Kontsevoy

Written by: Kara Phelps
4 min read

Ev Kontsevoy has an impressive view on the current state of software development and delivery. A veteran of cloud computing, Ev is a software entrepreneur and CEO and co-founder of Teleport, a company whose mission is to help engineers and security professionals unify access for SSH servers, Kubernetes clusters, web applications and databases across all environments.

“I’m software engineer by training,” Ev says. “I love technology. I like building things.” And while he misses his time in front of the keyboard and the Vim editor, Ev enjoys his new role as the head of a successful, fast-growing tech company. “There’s a big difference between what I’m doing today and what I like doing today, but that’s probably true for all of us,” says the Russian-born Ev, who earned a degree in mathematics before discovering computers.

The Journey to Teleport

If you ask him how he started on his path to Teleport, Ev will tell you it all began at a developer meetup where Jeff Bezos was talking to developers. “Bezos went on stage, and he did this presentation about computing as a utility,” Ev recalls. At the end of that presentation, developers started giving him a hard time about Amazon’s cloud. Its performance was lacking, many of them said. And then someone asked, "How come you cannot get any email in or out of your cloud?" 

It was then that Ev hatched the idea for a new company. He remembers thinking, "Hey, all these people who are starting to use Amazon's cloud—they’re going to need email capabilities.” It wasn’t long before Ev launched his first company called Mailgun, a set of powerful APIs that allow you to send, receive and track email effortlessly. 

“So it came from me just being in the same room with these two people exchanging questions,” Ev recalls. “I wasn’t particularly prepared for what would come next. I don't believe you can predict what kind of muscle you need to grow in order to do something big. But it was just like Nike says: just do it.”

Eventually, Ev’s company got acquired by Rackspace, the popular managed cloud computing company. That was about the time Ev began talking to other people like himself—engineering leaders who were eager to share their pain points with cloud computing. “That basically shaped my belief that cloud computing will eventually be replaced with something dramatically better,” Ev says.

"Crazy Good"

So Ev says he decided to pursue a wild idea: "Why don't we build a company that makes computing feel like the Matrix?” After all, he reasoned, the Matrix is basically like the cloud—or at least it should be. The difference is that when you interact with the Matrix, you don't feel the presence of any layers. “You get in, and then you basically execute instructions inside of the Matrix,” Ev says.

And that is essentially what Teleport does. “It gives engineers, developers, DevOps engineers unified access to all kinds of cloud resources,” he explains. “It gives your command-line tools superpowers and allows you to connect to everything you need and keeps your security and compliance people at your company quite happy.”

For Ev, it was all about “starting with a relatively crazy idea: Let's try to run applications anywhere in the world,” he says. “And we ended up with a new class of product which we call the access plane. You have a control plane, data plane and Teleport is your access plane.”

That pretty much sums up Ev’s advice on how to start up just about any company you have in mind. “I think it's more fun to create a company about a really interesting end state, your future state. You want to change the world to be a certain way. And it could be something absolutely crazy, but being crazy is good,” he says.

Dig deeper into our conversation with Ev Kontesvoy by tuning in to Episode 102 of DevOps Radio. Connect with him on LinkedIn and visit the Teleport website.

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