Category Archives: News

WSO2 Announces 10-year Long-term Support for All Current Products

WSO2 products serve as a workhorse processing billions of transactions every day around the world. Our customers rely on WSO2 for many mission-critical apps, backed by our WSO2 Subscription services to proactively provide security and bug fix updates, and to stand by 24×7 to resolve any issues that arise.

Our standard support lifetime policy for products has been 3 years, reflecting our best practice advice to maintain a regular upgrade cycle. However, with the breadth of customer scenarios WSO2 is now deployed in, we have had demand for long-term support (LTS) releases beyond the 3-year window.

We are pleased to announce that all current and subsequent WSO2 product releases are designated as LTS releases with a 10-year support lifetime. Our 10-year LTS commitment assures you that WSO2 is committed to your long-term success regardless of your maintenance schedule.

Your WSO2 Subscription now ensures that, for 10 years:

  • Bugs identified in any version of the product will be addressed through a back-port and delivery of a WSO2 Update into each affected LTS release.
  • Vigilance is maintained through monitoring of dependent projects for possible vulnerabilities. This monitoring includes collecting industry-wide security bulletins, soliciting potential vulnerability reports from the community and academia, and automated code analysis tools. Confirmed vulnerabilities are addressed through early notification and delivery of a WSO2 Update to Subscribers for each affected LTS release.
  • Maintaining our full test and regression capabilities and labs for each LTS release to ensure a prompt response, reproduction, and resolution of any issue reported through our 24×7 support services.

Of course, your WSO2 Subscription covers regular upgrades to newer versions of WSO2 products, and we still recommend regularly scheduled upgrades to take advantage of new features, higher performance, and improved ease of use, and to avoid accruing long-term technical debt.

The introduction of the 10-year LTS is one of a set of improvements we are making to increase the breadth of value customers find in their WSO2 Subscription.

WSO2’s New Approach To Performance Reviews

This morning, WSO2 rolled out a new approach to performance reviews for our employees.

Since software is a creative business, the performance review process for a software company must be a system that furthers the creative careers of the professionals employed by us.

WSO2’s leadership has 250 years of enterprise software experience. We’ve worked at numerous software companies, both large and small, including Oracle, Dell, Quest, IBM, venture capital software startups, and system integration providers. We’ve experienced performance appraisals of many different varieties, but they all emphasize numerical ratings and normalization of individuals into a bell curve. This is fundamentally wrong and a fast way to weaken the creative intelligence that is essential to making a software company great.

We believe our approach better aligns the interests of our employees with the company’s objectives.

Performance Ratings Sabotage Productivity

For the past five years, WSO2 has gone through significant growth. With this growth came an expansion of the employee ranks, and we are now striving to be close to 560 employees by the end of 2018. At one point, WSO2 hired more than 150 people in a single year.

To compensate for this growth-and being engineers-we developed systems to more fairly rate people across the company, especially two people who are performing the same function reporting into different leaders in different departments. Bonuses were tied to the rating achieved. The rating was a numerical rating on a 100-point scale with a unification process to ensure fairness. This was done quarterly. It was fair and balanced.

But we found that numerical performance reviews will ultimately sabotage productivity. In a numerical system, there is usually a bonus leap or compensation jump for those that rate above a certain threshold, in our case 60 and 80. In any system with a high degree of refinement, there will be people that are on the bubble of a numerical threshold. These numerical ratings were the composition of sub-ratings across a wide range of behavioral criteria that were weight averaged into a total score, so minute interpretations of sub-ratings could have big implications to perceived compensation.

When a performance review threshold is numerical, human nature causes everyone to analyze elements to gamify their score.

This opens the door to culture-sapping. Individuals on the bubble between one rating and another will formulate arguments to their benefit. People compare their ratings among one another with subjectivity (while ratings are intended to be private, reality demonstrates that everything is shared through the grapevine). The team leaders who are responsible for ensuring fairness subjectively applied the criteria to their team. Senior executives responsible for 100s of people will strive to develop systems to help measure and unify the ratings leading to a subconscious sense of bureaucracy and big brotherness.

After a couple quarters, savvy employees will learn the nuances of a numerical system and search for ways to gamify it to their advantage. People will change their operating point of view to obtain stronger ratings, even if these actions were not the most constructive to their own or the company’s interests.

We do a quarterly employee survey that asks a variety of questions about culture. Fundamentally, the most important question around whether people would recommend WSO2 as a place to work declined over a couple quarters from a world class rating to something that was in decline.

We felt that we were seeing the early signs of performance gamification that can be caused by numerical performance ratings.

Even though we only introduced the 100 point rating system last year, it was time for a change.

Creative People Need Creative Performance Reviews

Everyone in a software company is a creative individual.

This is not only our software engineers, but also our marketing professionals, lawyers, account managers, solution architects, accountants, and admin staff. Creativity trumps any skill set because the entire business of software is one where problems must be encountered and solutions proposed. Everyone within the company is a problem solver. And every time we release a new piece of software, we must rethink how our business must improve to better embrace that software for our customers. In essence, our company is in a constant state of improvement, and we can only address the problems that we encounter if everyone recognizes that they are on a journey of problem solving. During this journey, the nature, size, and complexity of the problems we must solve constantly shift. Your seniority, experience, and role within the company gives you opportunity to work on increasingly harder problems, making everyone’s journey, my own included, fulfilling and rewarding.

Creative individuals are on a career journey. It is the culmination of software experiences that define a career and create new opportunities for advancement. In exchange for committing to spending time to help the company or their team achieve their goals, the individual is rewarded with experiences that contribute to their career and a reciprocal commitment by the company to provide new, more challenging experiences.

An employment arrangement between a software company and its employees is a shared commitment to participate in and create new experiences that reward one another.

Why then do most companies provide a performance evaluation that attempts to quantify and sometimes monetize skills or tactical results instead of discussing the broader issues tailored to how each individual is on a creative journey?

The WSO2 Performance Evaluation

The performance evaluation is intended to facilitate a career conversation between an individual and the company. We also use the results of the performance evaluation to determine an individuals participation in the company bonus pool.

We want to know three things:

  1. How have you demonstrated your commitment to the company’s mission?
  2. How have you demonstrated your commitment to your team’s objectives?
  3. How have you demonstrated a commitment to your career and self?

Each individual is asked quarterly to self evaluate themselves by answering these three questions. These answers are then melded with a similar assessment from a Team Leader to enable and facilitate a discussion about each individuals software journey.

If each individual is true to themselves and make contributions that play to where they are at on their software journey, then they will have numerous examples of how they have and continue to demonstrate their commitment. The discussion with their Team Leader is then a focus on how to amplify their experiences and help each person better achieve results for themselves, their team, or the company.

We have three resulting ratings:

  1. Exceptional. You are demonstrating a commitment and everyone around you agrees.
  2. Successful. You are demonstrating commitment, but not everyone is aware.
  3. Needs Improvement. You are not demonstrating commitment, and perhaps this job or career is not yet your cup of tea.

Everyone who receives an Exceptional or Successful rating receives a prorata portion of the company’s bonus.

We are excited for and would love it if everyone in the company receives the bonus. There is no concept of unification. We would rather our employees and Team Leaders invest their time in aiding everyone to improve the experiences they have on their software journey.

While rare, and since we have a big commitment to continually hiring entry level talent, some people are not able to demonstrate the commitment to self or the corporate mission. In these situations, we place people on a performance plan and have an open dialogue about their reasons for being in the software industry. More often than nought, people leave WSO2 under these circumstances to pursue new careers having gained an increased awareness of their personal desires.

Demonstrating Commitment

Every creative individual demonstrates their commitment in different ways.

Demonstrating commitment is a reflection of:

  1. Are you engaged and excited by the work that you do?
  2. Are you striving to make the people, products, and systems that you work with better?
  3. Is your attention to detail improving along with identifying ways you, your team, or the company can better itself?
  4. Are you contributing to industry peer group in work groups, standards bodies, open source projects, conferences, networking, and career advancement bodies?

This broad definition of commitment allows each person a wide range of freedom to define how they are contributing to the company and furthering their software career journey.

This definition also allows Team Leaders to have an open dialogue to identify people who are not a great fit for the type of software that we build and sell at WSO2. When an individual’s self assessment is filled with contributions and commitments in areas that fall too far outside the core of our corporate direction, it becomes easy to discuss and relate.

The CEO Self-Assessment

As CEO, I am not above or beyond self-assessment against these ideals.

I have day-to-day responsibilities:

  1. Setting strategy and direction
  2. Modeling and setting the company’s culture, values, and behavior
  3. Building and leading the senior executive team and board of directors
  4. Allocating capital to the company’s priorities

But beyond these items, I demonstrate my commitment in other ways.

Company Commitment

Given my unique historical experiences in product management and DevOps, I personally am taking PM responsibility for Ballerina’s package management registry technology lines. Much of the success of our Ballerina initiative is tied to collaboration among developers and we need a package management system designed that exploits our unique integration qualities of Ballerina married to the best attributes of what other package systems prior to us have created. My background with package managers and connection to other industry contacts offered me a chance to apply my experiences to this domain to the company’s benefit. Delegating this to another PM who was new to the package management discipline might have been a disservice to the company.

Team Commitment

For my executive leadership team, I am working to retain executive coaches that can interact with each member in private 1:1 sessions. These coaches have experience in high growth software startups or within publicly traded companies.

For my board team, I am working to improve involvement in strategic decisions and to deepen their access to business analytics. I would like WSO2’s board reporting to become real time and dynamic, so that management and the board can maintain a concise, unified, and current view of the business lowering the frequency of briefing meetings and allowing us to interact more frequently on high impact strategic matters.

Individual Commitment

I am a strong proponent of self-learning and industry networking.

To advance my understanding of technology, I am committed to obtaining committer status on at least one container or serverless related open source project. I continue to contribute lightly to Eclipse Che, a cloud IDE project, and I am working towards committer status rights on Ballerina. Obtaining committers status requires a focused contribution to the project itself, which requires hands-on study, learning, and skill acquisition that allows me to advance my broader understanding of technology.

To advance my understanding of the software industry, I am an avid daily reader of news, analysis, deals, and investments within the enterprise software segment. This is a 1–2 hour / day commitment to overview the day’s activities and proactively discuss with peer groups online (whether on Medium, HackerNews, or in private email groups). It is often these email discussions where insights and true learning develops.
Additionally, I commit to attend at least 1 industry networking event each quarter (outside the dozens of customer meetings, technology conferences, and meetups that we do as part of our day to day). I’m particularly excited about attending the Open Source Software Leadership Conference in a couple weeks.

Be Creative—Enjoy Your Career

We are excited to be releasing this improved performance review system at WSO2. We hope that it will allow creative people to operate creatively in an environment that maximizes their career enjoyment and productivity.
If you are thinking about a career in software, and want to be in an environment surrounded by talented, intelligent professionals passionate about working on large scale problems for open source and enterprise software, you should write me at tyler@wso2.com as we are growing and hiring.

WSO2: The 8th Largest OSS Company – 2017 Results and 2018 Plan

I joined WSO2 because of Open Source Software (OSS)’ potential.

Open source enables a transparent innovation and business model. Intellectual property published with an open source license can be consumed with freedoms not available with commercial licenses. Customers buy WSO2 subscriptions with clarity that our business goal is their successful deployment of open source to address their digital challenges.

Can IBM or Oracle say the same?

We align WSO2’s interests with customers by IP transparency through open source and the Apache-way.

In public markets, a company discloses business and financial information regularly to the public with disclosures to protect investor, facilitate capital formation, and to maintain fair, orderly and efficient markets. Additionally, our customers, by purchasing our subscriptions, are making a dependency upon us. Their awareness and confidence in our business and financial health is necessary to establish an equitable engagement.

To further the alignment we have with customers, WSO2 will now annually report key business and financial results.

We are pleased to share that WSO2 is financially sound.

WSO2 is comprised of two businesses: OSS subscriptions and professional services. Subscriptions are renewable and we use SaaS metrics for tracking KPIs in pro forma financials. The ARR and customer metrics reflect our subscription business and our EBITDA is for the company.

In 2017, we will exit our Annualized Recurring Revenue (ARR) between $24.5 – $25.5M, a growth of 52%, up from 46% growth the previous year. Our gross margin for the recurring business is 88% and will increase in coming years. In 2017, we will turn our first profit with $603K EBITDA and generate $2.7M cash from operations.

We acquired 150 new customers in 2017 and more than 80 new subscription customers. Our new customers start with professional services during their technology evaluation and either continue consuming WSO2 open source or transition to a WSO2 subscription for access to patches, security updates and incident support.

We use dollar-based net retention rate to measure our ability to retain customers and expand their use of our subscriptions. Historically, customers have expanded their use of our IP and subscriptions over time as they realize the benefits of speed and innovation that come with engaging WSO2.

To support growth, we began significantly hiring in support, sales and marketing in Q3 finishing the year with a 482 headcount.

2017, by all accounts, is a successful year for WSO2.

We attribute the results to:

  1. The passion and commitment of the employees and partners that put customer needs ahead of their own. We track our NPS at 25. We are striving for a 50 NPS, which is rare for enterprise software given the spectrum of customer needs.
  2. Product and intellectual property expansion to service cloud-native architectures, which are, along with microservices, dominating customers’ future deployment expectations. This advanced architecture lets us process 5 trillion transactions, 40 million identities, and 200,000 APIs across our customers. We estimate that 25% of our customers are cloud deployments across our public cloud or within megaclouds.
  3. The continued rotation within IT from proprietary to open source software. We have seen a dramatic rise in the number of organizations which have open source mandates, especially in emerging market territories, public sector, and system integrators.
  4. Maturity and continuity of operations. We have 69 employees with >5 years service and 23 with >10 years. More than 2/3 of employees with us five years ago are with us today. Our employee mix is 33:67 for female:male creating a vibrant culture of diversity. Also, other than myself, the WSO2 management team has not changed since 2013. This has allowed a long-term open source vision to nurture in equal measures across the company.

WSO2 is the 8th largest OSS company and largest integration OSS company. An OSS company derives more than 50% of its revenues from OSS support subscriptions. The top OSS companies are:

  1. RedHat
  2. Pivotal
  3. Mozilla
  4. Canonical
  5. Hortonworks
  6. Suse
  7. MongoDB
  8. WSO2

Acquia, MuleSoft, Cloudera, Alfresco, Actian, Sophos, Forgerock, and Datastax were not included due to their open core model and dependency upon proprietary licensing.

We expect the coming year to continue playing to our strengths. Trends tied to growth in programmable endpoints across devices, identities, apps, APIs, and data will increase. Integration is now central to digitization. Every program is an integration and every developer an integration specialist. This compounds the challenges to creating and governing integration endpoints that is the emphasis of our business.

Our 2018 operating plans include:

  1. Continue investing into Ballerina, and relaunch it with a developer GTM that focuses on solving integration problems for the next 20 years.
  2. Expand sales and marketing by opening offices in new territories, establish our first resellers and distributors, and growing our sales, marketing and channel organizations.
  3. Continue our investment in cloud-native architectures with the generational release of API Manager 3 and Enterprise Integrator 7 along with investing into cloud infrastructure installers.
  4. Invest into broadening the value of our subscriptions: launching a Technical Account Manager program, expanding our Long Term Support policies, bundling cloud-native operations tools within our subscriptions, broadening the scope of our managed cloud services, expand test grid coverage to incorporate ecosystem technologies, and exploring the inclusion of a security scanning service.
  5. Launch research initiatives into open source blockchain, AI, machine learning, and General Data Protection Regulation.
  6. Formalize the CTO office. Our co-founder, Paul Fremantle, will return full time as our CTO January 1st after completing his PhD in Computer Science. The CTO office will receive investment to formalize the production of our Corporate Reference Architecture, Corporate Reference Methodology, Global Technology Outlook, and Global Market Outlook.
  7. More than doubling our investments into marketing, enablement, and market education programs.
  8. Renewed focus on open source governance to better engage the community and their involvement in the evolution of our projects.
  9. Expanding our sales territories from 4 to 9 and separating our OEM ISV business.

We expect our ARR growth rate, EBITDA, and cash generation to increase in 2018. We’ll exit the year with approximately 560 employees.

All this means we can – and will – create a lot more open source that helps IT digitize assets.

We will be working to turn WSO2 into an IT-household brand, bringing our form of integration into every application and service you are building. If you are new to WSO2 or open source, 2018 will be a great year for you to learn more about how we can help you solve your digitization challenges. Get in touch with me directly: tyler@wso2.com.

Since this blog post includes future operating plans, predictions, estimates, and forecasts, this is a good time to point out that we have lawyers, and that our lawyers want you to know that this information represents our current judgment on what the future holds and it is subject to risks, uncertainties, and other nightmares. In other words, don’t be crazy by drawing conclusions that have undue reliance on this blog post and understand that we may revise anything.

A Big Hello to John Saylor, Our New General Manager – Global Channel Sales

We’re delighted to welcome John Saylor to our team as the General Manager – Global Channel Sales. John will take ownership of our partner strategy, as we look ahead to developing a closer alignment with our partner ecosystem and delivering great digital transformation experiences for customers. He’s a passionate advocate of partnering to deliver success for organizations: “More feet on the street provides a market presence and momentum that propels companies forward in the industries as an industry leader that creates market drag for each partner’s solutions – everyone wins,” says John. In building a partner network, John plans to amplify the velocity of partner onboarding of WSO2 solutions, keeping the WSO2 brand intact with a new logo “Powered by WSO2” in solutions that utilize the WSO2 embedded technology.

John comes from a very impressive, diverse, and interesting professional background spanning 36 years. This includes 23 years at Quest Software (acquired by Dell), 11 years at Hewlett-Packard, and 2 years at Western Digital. He later used his expertise to start his own company, working with several technology companies to develop their businesses.

And what does John find compelling about WSO2? Its impressive growth and of course, the people! He’s full of enthusiasm for WSO2: “My attraction was WSO2’s acceleration in the marketplace that’s helping customers adopt a 24/7 cost-effective digital transformation with APIs, events and streams, while also working with software vendors to embed technology quickly, addressing security, governance and identity as well as Open Banking. The brilliant people at WSO2 is one of the biggest assets!”

John’s other big passions include his family, the ocean, travel, live music and sporting events, car shows, and charity events. In fact, if you find yourself in Laguna Beach in California where John’s based, he’d love to show you the surfing, sunsets, music venues, and arts events in the city.

It’s great to have you in the team John!

You can reach out to John on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @JSaylorIII

10 11 12 – WSO2 Identity Server Keeping the Bad Guys Away Since 2007!

WSO2 Identity Server turns 10 today on the 11th day of the 12th month of this year! Over the years the team has grown, research and development efforts have evolved, we’ve procured some big-name customers and various team members have gone on to publish stellar books on identity and access management.

To commemorate this day we thought we’d pick a few cool things (from a long list) about WSO2 Identity Server:

  • WSO2 Identity Server manages more than 40 million identities across the world.
  • Fully open source, WSO2 Identity Server has thousands of FREE users.
  • Mobile Connect support from WSO2 Identity Server is available for more than 900 million users in India.
  • Our first customer, ELM, manages over 4 million user identities and we’re still a part of their digital journey.
  • (Let the name dropping begin) Some of our other customers include Verifone, West Corporation, Verizon, HP, Seagate, Nutanix, T-Systems, and many in the educational industry such as Brigham Young University, New York University and Australian Catholic University.
  • We offer over 40 connectors in our connector store so that you can integrate with any system and enhance your system capabilities.
  • Single sign-on (SSO) and identity federation are our forte. You can ask any of our customers! Here’s a link to the latest version of the WSO2 Identity Server.
  • We were the winner for “Identity as a service” in 2011 at the KuppingerCole European identity awards. We also helped one of our customers to bag an award at EIC 2015 for their Mobile Connect implementation.
  • Prabath Siriwardena, our director of security architectures, is not only a renowned figure in the IAM space, but also the author of Advanced API Security, Maven Essentials and more.
  • Concerned about GDPR or PSD2? Want to know how Customer IAM can help you with digital transformation? We have got your covered for 2018 and beyond!

Congratulations to our IAM team for their amazing feats over the years and special thanks to one of our starting members Ruchith, who has gone off to accomplish amazing things! You can read Prabath’s blog to get the full low down on how we started.

Honoring WSO2’s Long-Standing Customers by Helping Those in Need

Earlier this year at WSO2Con USA we celebrated our customers who’ve stuck with us through thick and thin for 10 long years — eBay, Kaiser Permanente, Trimble and Concur. In recognition of their long-standing relationship with us, we launched the WSO2 10-Year Customer Anniversary Undergraduate Scholarship Program — a program that offers a full undergraduate university scholarship to passionate students in Sri Lanka.

Standing by our commitment to education (we have over 100 alumni that have or are currently pursuing master’s degrees or PhDs), we figured there’s no better way to honor our customers than by helping those who need financial assistance in following their dreams of a quality education.

The fully-paid program enables the selected students to obtain a degree in Computer Science, awarded by the prestigious University of Westminster, London, UK, through Informatics Institute of Technology (IIT), Sri Lanka. The program also provides a monthly allowance paid by WSO2 to meet daily expenses and mentoring by WSO2 employees throughout their school tenure.

We partnered with IIT and began the search for the perfect candidates in early August. We received many applications from students from all walks of life but had to narrow it down to four (for the four customers). We selected the students based on their financial need, educational qualifications, and extra-curricular activities.

After a lot of deliberation, we announced the selected candidates last week! Our Congratulations go out to

  • Negeesha Divyanjalee Katulanda selected for the BSc (Hons) Computer Science course
  • Piyumi Hansika Madhubani Gamage selected for the BSc (Hons) Computer Science course
  • Chanuka Abeysinghe selected for the BEng (Hons) Software Engineering course
  • Jayasanka Buddhika Weerasinghe selected for the BSc (Hons) Computer Science course

We wish you all the best!

Why I Joined WSO2

On Tuesday, it was announced that I joined WSO2 as its CEO. This is an exciting and proud moment as it creates an opportunity to work with the (almost 500) geniuses employed by WSO2 and to engage our customers, partners, and competitors that are collectively contributing to making the massive and growing middleware segment better.

I joined WSO2 because I was inspired by the challenge to help us become a #1 provider in a competitive and technically challenging market.

My first experience with middleware was in the 90s while working at BEA, now owned by Oracle. It was an amazing experience to witness BEA’s transformation from C-based platform (Tuxedo) into the Internet, Java and JavaEE leader with Weblogic. Scott Dietzen, then the BEA CTO and recently the CEO that put Pure Storage (NYSE: PSTG) through its IPO, lead BEA’s transformational efforts to create a strategy that leapfrogged BEA ahead of alternatives.

Due to:

  1. The rapid rise of cloud, and;
  2. Rapidly changing consumption models for developers with containers, microservices, serverless, and APIs, and;
  3. The rising complexity from streaming and analytics of real-time event-driven architectures attached to exabyte architectures connected to millions of systems, and;
  4. Corporate core competencies tied to an ability to transform data into insights with machine learning,

we are on the precipice of witnessing a new wave of cloud-scale, cloud-native middleware emerging that will be as significant as the C to JavaEE transformation we witnessed in the 90s. Scott’s achievements are personally inspiring and have no small influence on my choice to undertake this mission.

Leading WSO2 through this transformation is an ambitious, challenging, and exciting opportunity that is something worthy and respectful to the ridiculous talent we have already assembled.

I led Toba Capital’s first investment into WSO2 in 2011 and have been on its board since. Through that time, it became apparent that WSO2’s innovation engine was world class and repetitively produced intellectual property that was faster, easier, and safer superior to alternatives. These advancements are a reflection of WSO2’s internal culture of constant improvement combined with its advanced talent development with university rotations where we now have 132 people (27%) that have or are currently pursuing multiple degrees, master’s degrees, or PhDs.

The rate of innovation combined with an open source business model, customer-first experience, and all delivery functions (support, consulting, training) delivered directly by our engineers has let us establish meaningful relationships with 400 world-class enterprises that represent amazing cross-sections of the global economy managing 5 trillion transactions each year with our technology. Impressively, 25% of our customers come from financial services like BNY Mellon, Credit Agricole, HSBC, and BNP Paribas who have stressed our technology stack to meet expectations imposed by a dizzying array of regulations, security, and performance requirements.

In spite of these achievements, we are the lesser known vendor. While we have near zero churn with our customers who shout our praise and have us as their strategic platform, most describe WSO2 as ‘unknown’, which is a polite way to imply ‘misunderstood’. WSO2 has not conformed to mainstream positioning, go to market, and delivery and most regard us different.
This non-conformance creates tremendous advantages WSO2 passes along to our customers, but not fully appreciated by the rest of the market:

  1. Our team-based, non-commission approach to sales ensures that our customers are always first placed ahead of compensation or the company’s bottom line;
  2. Our 100% open source platform ensures broad community participation leading to better performance, stability, and advancement;
  3. Our delivery through our engineers ensures that customers engage with experts that can fix anything instead of working through layers of management and support abstractions delaying resolution and satisfaction;
  4. We have an efficient operating model that does not depend upon cash from investors, debtors, or the public markets giving us freedom to grow in ways beneficial to our customer’s interests;
  5. Our no-politics and open culture have lead to an industry low employee turnover and rich diversity with 33% female employees and 34% of our leadership positions are held by women.

My most recent venture was Codenvy, which we sold to Red Hat in June. The people at Codenvy made it special and transformed us to the #1 vendor in a highly competitive cloud IDE space. The Codenvy journey was one where we rode the container and cloud-native wave, as the marriage between container-services and hosted developer workspaces were a combination that allowed the growth of cloud IDEs to effectively compete with desktop alternatives pushed by JetBrains and Microsoft.

Containers and cloud-native concepts are redefining the consumption models for how developers work with and deploy middleware. These technologies are causing a middleware rethink, especially in a world where orchestrators like Kubernetes and chaos monkeys scale and destroy unpredictably while the system maintains constant resiliency. For many vendors, talking cloud-native is great marketing fodder, but overlook the reality that their platform will require a reset. Our competitors with proprietary licenses and huge cash burn will struggle to demonstrate true innovation in this space.

With WSO2, we’ve been building a new cloud-native technology stack. Our open source projects include Ballerina (a programming language for integration), MSF4J (a low RAM microservice framework), Carbon (an instant boot server framework), and Siddhi (a streaming SQL framework). Collectively, they are compelling building blocks to create cloud-native middleware for integration, API management, analytics, identity and access management, and IoT.

If you are container-first, serverless, microservices, cloud-native, or developer-first … or you are an enemy to mega cloud lock-in and proprietary business models, then we will demonstrate to you middleware services that can run in any cloud, outperform any vendor, provide rock-solid stability, and backed by our customer-first, engineer-delivered business model. Please engage our team and discover why we are a hidden gem in middleware.

With the amazing people at WSO2 as the backbone, we can and will do with WSO2’s transformation that BEA did with Java.
And for those reasons?—?the people, the challenge, the technology, and the fun?—?is why I joined WSO2.

Time for a CEO Change in WSO2

Getting ready to dance with Ballerina and more with Tyler taking the lead

It is my pleasure to announce that effective today, I have stepped down from my job as CEO of WSO2 and that Tyler Jewell will be taking over. Nope; I am not going anywhere?—?I will remain as Chief Architect and will also become Chairman of the Board. Tyler will be joining the board too, of course.

Tyler Jewell, CEO of WSO2

Tyler is no stranger to WSO2 — he first reached out to me via a cold-call email in November 2010 while he was head of investments in Quest Software. Quest went on to make a $4M investment in May 2011 and Tyler joined our board at the time. After Quest was acquired by Dell, Tyler left and went to Oracle as VP of Cloud and later returned to become a partner in Toba Capital, the VC firm set up by the ex-Quest Chairman Vinny Smith after he completed the acquisition. Tyler re-joined our board then. Later, Toba acquired Dell’s investments including the WSO2 shares and became a larger shareholder. In 2013, after we fought off an acquisition offer, Toba bought the shares of Intel Capital (our first investor) and other shares and ended up as the largest shareholder of WSO2. Tyler remained on our board throughout and was a key part of surviving that acquisition challenge!

In 2013, Tyler also founded Codenvy, became its CEO and built it to become the leader in cloud IDEs and developer workspaces as a service. In June this year, he sold the company to RedHat. After successfully completing the transaction, Tyler left RedHat in August.

Was bringing Tyler on board initiated by our shareholders?

No. I reached out to Tyler, convinced him, then the board members and finally the shareholders that this is the right thing for WSO2.

I am handing WSO2 over to Tyler because I believe that this is absolutely the right thing to do for WSO2 and all its stakeholders; i.e., shareholders, employees, partners and of course our customers.

Why?

Paul and I (along with a 3rd person who’s long gone) started WSO2 more than 12 years ago. We’ve had a pretty good run in these years?—?we now have a 5-product portfolio that offers a superb digital transformation platform, 400+ customers, 490 employees, a recurring revenue business that’s growing really well and one that will be profitable this year. Yes, profitable.

Oh and Dr. Paul’s back as CTO too, after finishing his Ph.D. in IoT Security.

So we’re doing ok. OK, so why now then?

We also have a few additional rocket ships we’re building. However, let me first focus on Ballerina?—?the new programming language we’re creating.

Ballerina will end integration as we know it. It will also dramatically simplify writing microservices. Importantly, it will end the reign of configuration-over-code in enterprise app development and will make code great again. Yeah it’s a big deal.
Ballerina is what I’ve been focusing on for the last year and more. While my Ph.D. was not in programming languages, I have a long history of working on languages and really enjoy the power language creation gives to shape how people think. Ballerina embodies everything that I’ve learned in my nearly 30 years of being in the IT industry and absolutely embodies what WSO2 has learned in the last 12 years of its existence. Yeah it’s serious shit.

Um, again, why?

While I’m pretty good in technical stuff (if I may say so myself ;-)), taking such a rocket ship and positioning it to the market, driving its evangelization and making it win in the marketplace is not where I know I’m the best in the world at. I also know that a lot of that needs to happen in the US, the land where technology trends are created.

OTOH, Tyler is incredibly good at that stuff. (He’s actually pretty damned good (maybe even incredibly good) at technical stuff too .. but he really is incredibly good at that stuff.) Ballerina and WSO2 deserve to have the best in the world guiding its market leadership vision, strategy, plan and execution.

This is absolutely not just about Ballerina either. We have several other rocket ships in our portfolio and more on the way. Plus, our entire portfolio of products really is simply a hell of a lot better than anything else to digitally transform an enterprise. Tyler will, of course, own that too and will help improve the positioning, packaging and marketing of our digital transformation story to get it to market domination status. In other words, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Tyler also understands that this is a massive long term opportunity that he’s taking on. We’re both not in a hurry?—?we have the legs and stamina to take on the market in a marathon and beat them.

That is why I’m leaving as CEO and giving control of WSO2 to Tyler.

What will I be doing?

I’m not going anywhere?—?I will be a having a ball putting 100% of my energy into my Chief Architect role, a title I gave myself a few years ago. In that role I will continue to nurture Ballerina and the rest of the WSO2 products’ overall design, architecture and scope.

At the board level I will be the chairman of the board as well.

Culture, values, Sri Lanka and all that kind of stuff

In the past twelve years I, and really all the people who’ve been part of the WSO2 journey, have built an awesome culture in WSO2 based on a set of core values that are all about doing the right thing for all stakeholders of our mission and oriented towards making the world a better place. Importantly, we’re also a culture that is always learning and always improving both at an individual level (for all involved) as well as at the company level.

It is silly to think that a change in CEO, especially the annoying, opinionated and (apparently, even though I don’t buy it) stubborn founding CEO, will not have some impact on how things will be done.

Culture is of course not a constant. Those of you have been subjected to my various preaching sessions in the last 12 years will remember this quote by Chamath Palihapitiya about culture that I’ve repeated often:

Fight for the culture the way it should be…not the way it was or the way it’s becoming.

So of course things will change, but will only change the way we all make it change.

. . .

I’ve always told people that if you want to be successful you must aim for the stars?—?and maybe you’ll at least land on the moon. The hard work of the last 12 years has us orbiting the moon, ready to slingshot off it and head for the stars.

As the founder of WSO2, I have always given it everything I had. I’m looking forward to continuing to do that and to “come home” to the technical world which I love, to help WSO2 slingshot off the moon and head for the stars.

. . .

It’s been a privilege and an honor to start a company and grow it from birth to a reasonable sized global business with operations in Sri Lanka, UK, US, and Brazil. I’ve learned a few things along the way (e.g., I’m finally able to read a P&L .. but not a balance sheet yet; it’s BS after all) and can safely say I lost no hair doing it.

I’m most thrilled, humbled and proud of the people I’ve worked with. There are so many people who’ve been here through the entire journey?—?basically never leaving after they joined. We have all grown, and not just in years, but in maturity, in smarts and just overall as human beings through the WSO2 journey.

Another aspect I’m very proud of is the more than 100 folks who’ve left WSO2 to go to graduate school. Of that, around 50 have now completed PhDs in Computer Science. I’m very bullish on people getting more and more education (and Ph.D. is hardly the end) and it’s great that so many have done that. And more are on the way?—?and many of the people who have worked in WSO2 for many years have earned PhDs of their own, even though we don’t call them doctor!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has made the last 12+ years amazing, awesome and incredibly educational for me.

. . .

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling sad to give my baby over to someone else. From amongst all the people in the world, I believe Tyler Jewell will do a fantastic job taking this toddler and making it into a teenager!

So actually I’m not sad but excited instead. Excited at the potential we have in front of us. Excited by working with Tyler. Excited at the thought of having more time to be technical and write code again.

Exciting times ahead :-). Good luck Tyler!

Welcome Back Paul: Our old and new CTO!

Paul met Sanjiva back in 1998 (almost a lifetime ago for some!). Their shared vision for the future encouraged them to leave IBM and start up their own open source company — WSO2. They soon ramped up their first project, Apache Axis2, and became one of the most competitive middleware companies in the industry.

Paul has been with us for the most part of our journey but decided to take some time off to work on his Ph.D., something he had wanted to do for quite a while. He now comes back as Dr. Paul Fremantle, our newly reinstated CTO. “He is someone who will challenge you and expect you to challenge him back,” said Sanjiva. So we welcome you back with open arms and are looking forward to being challenged.

Here’s a little bit of what Paul has been doing over the last two and a half years. For his Ph.D. he focused on security for IoT devices. As he pointed out, we feel that buying a device gives us control over our data, but in reality, the control is with the companies that manufacture these devices. During his research and after going through a lot of painful mathematics, he was able to create a new architecture model, OAuthing, which

  • Provides a simple way for you to take ownership of the device through an improved federated identity approach for IoT
  • Creates an instance of the server that handles a device for each user (personal cloud middleware)
  • Enables pseudonymity by not having to share your identity by default

His research directly influenced the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and was even partly used in our own WSO2 IoT Server!

Even with all of this going on, he managed to pick up the hobby of making musical instruments and has now leveled up from crafting ukuleles to mandolins and guitars. He says his current pet project of making a violin (one of the hardest yet) is the complete opposite of software development. In software development, if you make a mistake you can easily learn from it, iterate and fix it. But the smallest mistake in violin-making means you have to start right from the beginning all over again!

“I’ve been trying to learn patience, but I can’t seem to learn it quick enough,” jokes Paul. Glad to have you back Paul. We all look forward to working with you again.

We’re Celebrating Our People This Year!

We turned 12 last month and to celebrate this year we picked 12 amazing humans of WSO2 (by popular vote) and shared their stories. The people at WSO2 are our biggest asset and the drivers of our success. Here are some of those who have inspired us all:

Flora Ariyapala – Assistant Administration Officer

“I can’t pick the best memory. I’ve never had a bad day here. This is family. This is my home,” said Flora with a gleam in her eye while talking about her workplace — one she has been at for the past 12 years. Her stint at WSO2 is what she calls her first “proper” job. From being one of the first employees at WSO2 she has grown to be the person you look for in times of need, very similar to when you look for your mom at home. Be it having all the biscuit jars in our pantry filled, making sure you get a plaster for that scratch or looking after each and every employee like they were her own children (including the ones in their 30’s). Flora has played numerous roles in WSO2 and her unwavering dedication and affection towards the WSO2 family are admirable. We’re nothing but grateful for everything that Flora has done for us.

Nandika Jayawardana – Associate Director and Architect

You come to know a person for who they are when they are under stress or when they are in power. Nandika has been in both these situations at WSO2, mostly at the same time. Yet he’s calm and down-to-earth at all times and never projects his emotions, no matter how frustrated he is. “He’s a person who makes everyone laugh even when they’re panicking about emerging deadlines or in a “war room”,” said his team. As a starting member of the team, Nandika has proven to be a friendly, kind-hearted and knowledgeable person for the past 12 years. For a guy who’s as smart as he is, he’s surprisingly humble. He also knows what it means to be truly empathetic. When it comes to Nandika we’re told that “You surely know that you have enjoyed work life if you have worked with him.”. Thanks for being super cool, Nandika!

Jackie Wheeler – Vice President of Technical Content

Jackie is a thrill-seeker who has a wide spectrum of interests ranging from the Burning Man and bats to karaoke, skiing, and sailing. In addition to this, she’s a self-published author of four novels, a fantastic singer and a black belt in martial arts. Yes, she can kick your a** while singing about our documentation! That’s not all, she even put aside her fear of heights and went skydiving. When asked what her favorite thing at WSO2 was she said “The people. I’ve come to see Sri Lanka as a second home and the team as my extended family. We’ve had too many fun adventures and hilarious times, usually involving tuk tuks.” And we love her too; everyone raves about her leadership and writing skills. You’re a true rock star, Jackie!

Kapila Chandana – Assistant Administration Officer

Often found rushing to the scene of a faulty AC or making sure the lobby is equipped with music by The Chainsmokers or Daler Mehndi, Kapila a.k.a. KC is also a part-time comedian and Superman — in-house of course. Don’t be alarmed if you see him with a hammer or a sharp tool, this brave ex-soldier is your friendly fixer-upper for all things broken. He seems to have an ever-ready thumbs up or a salute and a Tennison Cooray-esque joke every time you greet him. He will gladly be your go-to-man when running an event or an executive business meeting, just to make sure nothing falls apart — it’s almost as if the words “no” or “can’t” don’t exist in his vocabulary. Kapila has nothing but undying love and affection towards WSO2, a place that he refers to as the “talent spot”. He’s even won the outstanding contribution award for 3 years in a row for the three and a half years he’s been here. KC, what a dude!

Asma Cader – Senior Marketing Officer

Asma Cader affectionately known as Aso exuberates confidence, isn’t afraid to speak her mind and stands up for both herself and others. Her bubbly personality is so lovable that people often overlook her constant insults. A lover of all things Disney and Pixar, she’s an avid collector of Minion merchandise and anything fluffy. She even went through a ‘Frozen’ phase where everyone had the pleasure of listening to her endlessly singing ‘Do you want to build a snowman’…for a year! But what she lacks in singing she makes up for in basketball. Her command of the sport makes her one of the best players at WSO2. She also thinks she’d be a suitable mascot for BallerinaLang and is dedicated to making it the most popular programming language out there. Thank you for being you, Aso!

Sumedha Rubasinghe – Director of IoT Architecture

Most of Sumedha’s stories can’t (and shouldn’t!) be shared in public. One that can be shared, however, is the time he convinced a team member to report his height and weight to HR, to attend a company trip! While Sumedha is famously known for his pranks, everyone agrees that he is one of the best mentors around. He identifies his team mates’ talents quickly and encourages them to work on their strengths. Sumedha is an all rounder — he’s a fantastic storyteller, an amazing singer, and conga player, a part-time banana cultivator and an IoT and API guru. The number of tools in his massive pickup truck show his enthusiasm in creating anything cool. Keep inspiring us all Sumedha!

Danesha Unantenne – Associate Lead in Administration

Danesha makes sure everyone at WSO2 is well fed and happy. Not only does she let us choose from fantastic lunch options, she hides in the pantry and eats them too…for testing purposes of course. Her inability to say no has roped her into many games of basketball, a sport she’s slowly warming up to. She recollects her favorite memory at WSO2 as the time she climbed Sanjiva’s (our CEO’s) desk to reach for chocolate stuck on the ceiling. “Fortunately he wasn’t there. He would have kicked me out,” said Danesha. She is the epitome of going the extra mile and is always willing to help you out. Her team overlooks (tries) her extraordinary gift of talking non-stop, loves her open-mindedness and considers her as a ‘machan’ (dude). We’re very lucky to have you Danesha!

Asela Pathberiya – Technical Lead

With multiple titles such as ‘one man army’, an ‘ambassador for the WSO2 security domain’, and ‘father of XACML’, Asela is an integral part of WSO2. He is a celebrity in his own right as the writer of one of the most popular blogs (http://xacmlinfo.org/) in the security space. He is also famously known for carrying a water bottle around whenever he’s overseas (not to drink, but because only toilet paper isn’t ideal). He is a mentor to many and generously shares his knowledge with everyone. Asela has been a devoted employee at WSO2 for the past 8 years and has made it his home. He has quite literally lived in each Sri Lankan WSO2 office (our snooze room and gym showers are very accommodating) and the popular belief is that had he not got married he would still be living at Palm Grove. “Although Asela worked remotely in Finland for a short period of time, he migrated back to Sri Lanka because of his attachment to the company and its people,” said a colleague. He even had a go bag with toiletries in his car whenever he had to work late. We really admire your dedication Asela!

Evanthika Amarasiri – Senior Technical Lead

Traveling from Kiribathgoda? Meet the owner of “(Evan)Thika travels”, a term coined by her colleagues who make use of her carpool service. Evanthika was born to be a mentor and has been a pseudo therapist at WSO2 for the past 10 years. She guides both newcomers and those who’ve been at WSO2 for a while. Her teammates call her their best friend and counselor and she’s known to be a hardcore techie fashionista — not a combo you see often. “The culture is what makes me love WSO2. Becoming the quality assurance lead here was pretty special too,” said Evanthika about her experience at WSO2. She’s always cheerful and is the first person to yell “I’m in” if there’s any fun activity. She gives people due credit and makes sure everyone around her is having a great time. Thank you for being a good sport, Evanthika!

Sriskandarajah Suhothayan – Associate Director and Architect

Suho is the kind of team player that hits home runs. So much so that even his intern project became a hugely successful product – WSO2 Siddhi (CEP engine) – that’s currently used by Uber. “That was pretty memorable,” recalled Suho. He’s well known for his leadership skills and intelligence and is also one of the friendliest guys with the best sense of humor. “Even though Suho’s a busy person, he always helps and advises team members on their problems,” said his colleagues. He often goes on walks where he falls into deep thinking — the faster he walks the more he thinks. Even when he sits down he starts shaking his leg to fuel his thought. Fidget spinners are clearly not for everyone. Despite his excellent work ethic, he’s rather a slob when it comes to his car, often waiting til it rains so the dirt washes off. That’s ok Suho, we get it. Thank you for prioritizing WSO2!

Dimuthu Leelarathne, Director – Solutions Architecture

“She’s one of the pillars of WSO2, is an exemplary lady and everything that WSO2 stands for. Everyone looks up to her, especially all the new female engineers” said one of Dimuthu’s team members. If there’s anyone in the team that has a “never say die” attitude, it’s Dimuthu. She wasn’t raised to be a quitter, which is evident in how she taught herself to swim…online! Dimuthu is a hard working, committed person who brings the best out of everyone she mentors. She’s fun loving and always enthusiastic about trying out new things. You can tell how much her team loves her by the song they wrote for her when she returned from maternity leave. Keep shining Dimuthu!

Sameera Jayasoma, Director – Platform Architecture

“Oka podi wadak (It’s a small job)”, Sameera said. Days into the project, everyone realizes it isn’t. It never is. We’re assuming he said the same about BallerinaLang. All stories about Sameera are R-rated and best kept a secret. We can probably talk about his talents as a cha cha dancer, but let’s not go there. The things he loves most in life can be ranked in this order: Leopards, photography (which he’s extremely talented at), table tennis and then perhaps his wife. He’s an excellent leader who drives his team while looking into every individual’s needs. His vast technical knowledge makes him a great problem solver too. But don’t expect a serious response from this brilliant mind when talking about life, he’ll most likely act dumb and avoid it. Thanks for being the cool smart you, Sameera!

We’d like to thank each and everyone — past, present and future — who have shaped and will shape WSO2 into an exciting place to work in.

Here’s to many more years of hard work and fun!