Turning the tide: Why we invested in ShorelineDawn

The cost of digital outages is higher than ever. When almost every aspect of our daily lives is touched by software, we’ve got zero tolerance for downtime, whether it is our work chat or our favourite food delivery app.

At the same time, delivering a seamless customer experience 24/7 has become more challenging. As businesses are adopting cloud and hybrid infrastructure — complex to set up and manage, and more prone to attacks and human error — an increasing amount of investment is required to maintain it, to the point where every dollar spent on building demands another dollar for maintenance. So site reliability and fast incident response are vital. In fact, demand for site reliability engineers (SREs) has skyrocketed, with a 34% annual increase in demand for the past five years.

But the talent — the last, and most stubborn, constraint on growth, in a world where capital is readily available and location no longer matters — isn’t there to meet it. It is projected that the ratio of SREs to DevOps engineers will have to approach 1 to 1 in the next few years to deal with this demand. Yet today, there are only around 218,000 SREs globally compared to the 1.1 million DevOps engineers. That’s a lot of builders with no one to meaningfully fight the fires.

And the SREs lack the tools to hold back the rising tide of incidents.

The main focus of tooling so far has been on infrastructure observability, which includes monitoring and detecting issues, a $53bn market, by companies like Datadog (NASDAQ: DDOG), and incident management and routing, a $25bn market, by the likes of PagerDuty (NYSE: PD). Developer-first incident automation and resolution, the third wave of innovation, has yet to be tackled.

Many vendors mention automation as part of their product, but none solve the real pain point: an SRE or developer still has to wake up in the middle of the night to investigate the issue or solve the outage, however big or small — even if it’s just a case of rebooting a machine. Which makes for disgruntled employees and frequent burnouts.

This is where our latest investment, Shoreline comes in.

Shoreline’s platform automates away simple incidents and helps SREs deal more effectively with problems that require human intervention. And, in turn, it helps resolve the talent issue: it makes existing SREs more productive and bakes the training that new and less experienced SREs need into the product.

The point, then, is not to replace humans, but empower them. SREs can use Shoreline to write custom scripts that automatically debug and repair low-level, repeated issues, and then, uniquely, scale them across the whole fleet. It cuts through the noise of alerts and false positives, saving the 3am wake up call and allowing SREs to focus only on those incidents that really need to be escalated.

But it also allows more experienced SREs to write “recipes” after an incident — repair manuals that can be used by new and more junior SREs or developers to learn about, investigate and handle known issues themselves, without the need to kick it up the chain. It streamlines the onboarding and training of fresh talent, and makes a company’s whole site reliability and DevOps teams more effective.

We first heard about Shoreline from Paul Hsiao at Canvas Ventures. He introduced me to founder and CEO Anurag in December 2020 and we hit it off immediately, with a shared love of data. And data did he know! Before Shoreline, Anurag spent seven and a half years as VP of engineering at AWS, where he grew his team from eight to 800 people, and saw the products under his responsibility, including Aurora and Redshift, grow from $3.5m to $4.5bn in revenue.

We introduced him to some of our companies tackling the most complex data challenges, with Dataiku becoming one of his early customers in October 2021, helping shape and define Shoreline’s product offering as it developed in stealth. Since then, the company has signed up several blue-chip logos, from fast-growing unicorns to well-established enterprises, with five customers in production and six in active pilots.

Anurag’s experience in distributed databases makes him uniquely qualified to build a product for the dynamic management of a large fleet. And he’s driven by both a passion for solving data problems, and a more personal goal: to use his success to fund a charitable foundation for children and adults with special needs.

He really is on a mission and he’s already drawn a strong team about himself, including COO Ashley Stirrup, ex-CMO of Algolia and Talend, with six years’ tenure at Siebel and strong experience in product-led growth.

So when Anurag called earlier this year and asked if we wanted to invest, the answer was an easy ‘Hell, yes!’. We’re delighted to be co-leading Shoreline’s $35m Series B with our friends at Insight. With Anurag at the helm, Shoreline is set to define the incident automation market, and turn the tide in the war for site reliability talent. If you are as excited as we are about being part of their journey, Shoreline is hiring!

Follow Evgenia on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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