It started with a phone call. It was November 2011 and Alex Hoff was on the line. He’d just left his job as senior product manager at Sandvine.
Sandvine was a company I’d co-founded with a bunch of colleagues in 2001. In less than 10 years, we’d built it into the world’s #1 supplier of network hardware and software to Tier 1 and 2 networks.
Alex had joined Sandvine in 2003 as a co-op student with the University of Waterloo computer science program. He loved the company so much he decided to stay after graduation, completing what he called his “tour of duty,” working his way through software, pre-sales, and system engineering on his way up to product management and the role he’d left.
“I’m looking for a new challenge,” Alex said.
“What did you have in mind?” I asked. After leaving Sandvine in 2007, I’d started a company called Emforium but it wasn’t going anywhere. I was looking for a new challenge too.
“I’d like to start a new company,” he said. “You interested?”
And that’s all it took. Auvik — or at least the impetus for Auvik — was born.
Finding the right “thing”
We started sifting through ideas and market research, looking for the right opportunity. After a year of brainstorming, evaluating, and rejecting ideas, we finally landed on network management for small and mid-sized businesses.
Our experiences at Sandvine (and for me at HP, PixStream, and Cisco prior to that) told us it was a market ripe for innovation.
We could see that network management was far more complicated than it should be. The systems people were using to set up and operate the advanced equipment in their networks hadn’t improved much since the 1990s!
The so-called consumerization of IT that makes it possible for just about anyone to complete many tech-related tasks on their own had almost completely bypassed the networking industry. Network administrators were still spending a lot of their day painstakingly entering code, line by line, into the same old interface.
We believed we could give them something better — something faster and easier (and dare we say sexier?).
The duo becomes a trio
In early 2012, the company was still just me and Alex, but one morning we were having breakfast with David Yach. David had recently retired from his role as CTO of Software for BlackBerry, and was discovering that the “non-working” thing wasn’t all that exciting. He said he was looking to get back into technology but at a hands-on level he hadn’t had the chance to enjoy in a long time.
I suggested he come by the office to see what Alex and I were up to. He did. And impressed with our vision for the company, David joined as Auvik’s third co-founder.
From a small seed
In April 2013, we secured seed financing from Celtic House, Rho Ventures, and BDC. (Thanks for your investment, guys.) Now came the work of building out the team, the culture, and the product.
From the start, we wanted Auvik to be based on real customer needs. We completed dozens of interviews with network administrators. We formed an advisory board of top network experts, including O’Reilly author and Ph.D. Kevin Dooley. And we combed through the market research.
Our intelligence gathering confirmed our hypothesis: the world was ready for a system that would make network management easier. Our system would be vendor-neutral so administrators wouldn’t have to buy new gear just to use it. It would automate mundane and time-consuming tasks. It would… well, it would just be awesome.
We hired some of the best software architects and programmers we could find, and we set to coding. David, Alex, and I spent our days in the tech trenches as well, coding right alongside our small team. (Even now, when our team is 25 people strong and growing, we’re still hands-on with product development every day. That’s part of the Auvik Way.)
Build, iterate, blast off
Networks are complicated! So although we coded like mad and iterated our product quickly, it still took a year of work to get it to a place where we felt comfortable releasing it as a private beta.
Part of that one-year ramp-up was spent developing a new programming language. It’s David’s baby and it’s brilliant, if I may say so. It plays a big part in making Auvik as powerful as it is.
We unveiled a public beta this past summer. And just last week, Auvik officially came out of beta and launched.
A huge thank-you to the 415 network administrators who used our beta and helped us refine and improve the product. We couldn’t have come this far without you.
As we look ahead to 2015, the team here at Auvik is excited and optimistic. We’ve got tons more features in the works, including functionality that will automate a lot of networking’s grunt work.
Network management should and can be easier. Auvik is making it happen.