Tom Preston-Werner home

Replicated - An Easier Path from SaaS to Enterprise

19 Jun 2015 - San Francisco

Over the last year I’ve had a chance to learn a lot more about early stage funding and made angel investments in a handful of startups. So far I’ve restricted my involvement to companies with ideas in which I have significant domain knowledge. I also insist on founders with relentless product focus, a fierce desire to help their customers be more awesome, and excellent communication skills. I recently met just such a company, with just such founders, tackling a problem that has personally caused me much pain.

The company is Replicated, and founders Grant Miller and Marc Campbell are making it easier to roll out an on-prem Enterprise offering based on an existing cloud-based SaaS product.

At GitHub, we burned through a lot of developer cycles building our own installer (several times), securing the installation environment, coding an automated licensing management system, integrating single sign-on services (LDAP, Active Directory, CAS, etc, etc), building out a searchable audit system, supporting customer-reviewable support bundles (logs and other diagnostic output), allowing numerous backup strategies, and countless other Enterprise-specific features that were killing our Enterprise deals. All of this on top of hiring and building out the necessary sales, support, and accounting teams to create a smooth Enterprise experience for our customers.

Replicated provides common Enterprise functionality (much of what I mentioned above, and all of it eventually) that you can wrap around your SaaS product, resulting in a first-class on-prem product in a fraction of the time. Beyond just technology, Replicated will help you understand your Enterprise customers through documentation on best practices and insight into the requirements and reasons that large companies desire the features they do. Until you can empathise with your customer (which is very hard to do as a fast-moving SaaS startup), you’ll never build the best product possible.

Getting into the Enterprise market will always be hard. But by reducing the technology burden, Replicated plans to erase much of the pain so you can focus on the other human-centric tasks. Not only am I an investor in Replicated, I believe in their mission and their founders so much that I’ve joined as an advisor. I understand what the uphill slog of the SaaS to Enterprise climb feels like, and I’m going to do my best to ensure you don’t have to suffer it as much as I did.

I’m also pleased to announce that Travis CI is now shipping their Enterprise product using Replicated. To see what the installation process is like, watch Grant install Travis CI Enterprise on a fresh server in about seven minutes. For a deeper dive, Travis CI has also published a blog post covering some of their process in getting their Enterprise installer ready using Replicated.

In the coming weeks, you’ll start to see other well-known startups launching (or re-launching) Enterprise versions of their SaaS software on top of Replicated. If you’re looking to do the same, and want to save yourself a lot of heartache, email, and start focusing on what matters the most: your unique and kickass product.

Fork me on GitHub