Origins in CDN Observability

Nothing inspires innovation better than shared suffering. Marty Kagan and Hasan Alayi shared the suffering that comes from exorbitant data storage costs and set out to do something about it. That’s the TL:DR of how Hydrolix came to be. Read on to follow the journey that eventually led to the founding of Hydrolix and inspired the mission to disrupt the economics of log data.

In 2008, Marty Kagan, a veteran of Cisco and Akamai, co-founded Cedexis, a company that became a pioneer in observability for Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). Cedexis’s flagship product, Radar, monitored the quality of experience delivered by CDNs to their customers. Among its many capabilities, Cedexis Radar could help CDN customers decide which CDN to run on in which country and make better routing decisions.

Hasan Alayi joined the engineering team at Cedexis in 2012 after his own stint at Cisco.

As Cedexis grew its customer base, Marty and Hasan became acutely aware of the cost of data storage: the cost of storing the logs that were essential to their business was going to be one of Cedexis’ biggest expenses, second only to payroll. This disturbing cost burden weighed heavily on their minds, even after they each moved on to their next adventure—Hasan moved on to Splunk, Marty joined Fastly, and, ultimately, Citrix bought Cedexis in early 2018.

Even while at Splunk, Hasan saw first hand the challenges of controlling the costs of data. He knew the problem could be solved, and he decided to set out on his own to create what would become the world’s first streaming data lake. His first call was to Marty—someone who had also lived firsthand with the acute problem of the astronomical cost of data storage and who also had a successful entrepreneurial track record. That’s how Hydrolix was born.  

Marty (CEO) and Hassan (CTO) assembled a team to build the Hydrolix streaming data lake and rid the world of data anxiety. Their goal was to eliminate:

  • Runaway costs
  • Slow query performance
  • Fragile clusters
  • Unmaintainable scale
  • Pressure to throw away data
  • Forced trade-offs
  • Fear of missing out 

Key early members of the leadership team include Jason Turner, Vice President of Customer Success, and David Sztykman, Vice President of Product Management. Jason, who advised Hydrolix before coming aboard in 2019, previously worked with Marty at Akamai and Cedexis, where he remained through its acquisition by Citrix. David, also a long-time Akamai vet, gained crucial experience during a stint at Elastic, where he worked with companies struggling to overcome the technical and fiscal challenges posed by big data. 

The startup journey for Hydrolix wasn’t easy. At times it felt as if the adage “Databases are overnight success after 10 years” would prove true. Over the course of the first three years, the team scraped by with white knuckles, trying to figure out what works and what features mattered. They had some successes (landed some customers and did many POCs), but they also survived a couple of “near-death experiences,” as many startups do. 

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