Zhai Jia, scientific creator · streamnational: the value of open source model is king, and the future of basic software lies in the domestic community


Zhai Jia, scientific creator · streamnational: the value of open source model is king, and the future of basic software lies in the domestic community
Zhai Jia, co-founder of streamnative

Member of Apache pulsar and Apache bookkeeper PMC, former technical director of EMC unified storage department and former streamlio founding engineer. In 2020, he won the “33 Chinese open source pioneers list”, and in 2021, he won the title of “Oscar peak open source figure” and was an open source technology preacher.

Editor smile

Innate preference for bottom principles and chronism
First know open source and believe in value as king

With a little contact with Zhai Jia, you can feel a firm and firm from the heart. His friends evaluated him as “the unity of knowledge and practice, believing in the underlying principles and logic, and doing what you believe”.

Talking about why Zhai Jia took the technical route of storage at the beginning, Zhai Jia frankly said that “there is no dream and mission”. He insisted on finding a reason, probably because of his personality preference of being willing to delve into the bottom and study basic theory: he majored in computer system architecture as an undergraduate, but there are not many options in front of him during his graduate period: one of communication or storage. After graduation, It is logical to add the pronoun of information storage EMC. At that time, the wave of mobile Internet has not yet soared. There are not many forward-looking people who can predict that storage will become an important infrastructure in the digital age. Zhai Jia only knows a simple truth: “as long as there is it, there is storage, which is a thing worthy of long-term research and learning.”

During his stay at EMC, Zhai Jia came into contact with bookkeeper, which ushered in the second key word of his career: open source. Talking about the initial feeling of open source, “it must be very different from now. The initial understanding of open source is public code, which can be obtained and used by everyone, and has been used in some more advanced company scenarios. After practical test, it is an excellent and reliable choice in all aspects”.

Every ashes player has a history of Xiaobai. Zhai Jia’s deep understanding of open source also comes from years of accumulation and iteration. The value of “open source” is just a kind of effective means to solve the problem of “open source” in the world, but the value of “open source” is only a kind of effective means to solve the problem of “open source”.

One or two of the pitfalls of Entrepreneurship:
Wrong mode, wrong community

Looking back on Zhai Jia’s entrepreneurial career, it is difficult to bypass his good friend: Guo Sijie, CEO of streamnational. They are graduate students at the Institute of computer science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. They are also deeply involved in the field of storage technology and jointly participate in the bookkeeper open source community… A proper official CP has a sense of vision.

In 2016, Zhai Jia resigned from EMC and started the home mode for less than half a year. At this time, Guo Sijie has embarked on the road of entrepreneurship. He founded streamlio around the end-to-end scheme of “Heron + pulsar + bookkeeper”. After hearing that his friends are idle at home, he strongly invited them to join. Zhai jialue felt that “the underlying logic is very reliable and the value is very obvious, so try it”.

However, in more than a year after streamlio was founded, they constantly tried various commercial means, but achieved little effect. The founder team gradually formed a consensus: the commercial promotion of basic software needs to consume a lot of resources and is a giant’s game; Moreover, the lack of basic software for scenario value demonstration makes it difficult for the technology to be recognized by the market.

Therefore, the open source community has become the Huashan Road for the survival of streamlio Jedi, but they have made another big mistake in the choice of the open source community: first, they chose the American community with the most developed open source community. Zhai Jia reflected on this: “enterprises that do basic software entrepreneurship are actually more suitable for the environment with fast development, great changes and rich data soil – that is, the domestic community.”

After a pause, Zhai Jia said this sentence word by word: “for entrepreneurial projects that follow the line of open source community, we must fully consider all factors and carefully choose the community, because except for a few pioneering technology projects, for most projects, the community plays the role of productivity, demand pool, promotion channel and moat at the same time – without community, there will be no life.”

In October 2018, Zhai Jia and Guo Sijie held two meetups with pulsar as the theme in Beijing and Shanghai to test the operation, construction and promotion of water community, and the response was far more enthusiastic than expected.

In the same year, the two left streamlio to create streamnative and build a basic software Entrepreneurship Model Based on the domestic open source community.
Kechuang people: more and more entrepreneurial projects choose the open source model. Can you share the criteria for enterprises to choose the community?
Zhai Jia: this topic is a little big. The only thing I can clearly suggest is that enterprises doing basic software projects might as well try the domestic community, because the business model of domestic enterprises is still business driven, with rapid growth, great changes and rich scenes. As long as your products are excellent and efficient enough to solve the problems of enterprises, they will be willing to use them. In addition, in fact, there is no essential difference between community marketing and to C marketing. The marketing object of wechat is social demanders, and the marketing object of open source software is programmers. The essence is the connection between value and people.

Two signs of “seeing light”:
The scene of landing in a large factory is full of meetup

After witnessing that bookkeeper with excellent technical principles is difficult to commercialize because it is too abstract, having experienced the streamlio period, holding his breath under the water and not knowing when to breathe, and having experienced a series of difficulties and setbacks in the cold reception of end-to-end solutions in the open source community in the United States, Zhai Jia firmly believes in the technical direction of cloud native storage, He believes that “the environment, timing, decision-making and mode may be wrong, but this direction must be correct”.
And his persistence finally paid off. With full trial and error and iterative experience as fuel, streamnational finally set sail smoothly. Eight months after its establishment, streamnational held a Meetup. Zhai Jia still remembers the scene of that day: from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the participants included domestic partners from major manufacturers such as Tencent and overseas partners from Yahoo Japan. “Towards the end, I found that we had been able to hold up the meetup for a whole day. That day, I felt that the cause was bright from my heart.”.

More direct confidence comes from the affirmation of Lighthouse customers. Tencent billing platform and short video application bigo have become lighthouse cases of streamnative’s online business scenario and offline data analysis business scenario respectively:

Tencent billing platform not only has requirements for system capacity expansion, but also has strict requirements for data service quality. Tencent billing platform uses Apache pulsar to process daily 10 billion + transaction requests and daily consumption of 10t + data, carrying the daily revenue of Tencent group, with a total amount of custody accounts of more than 30 billion; The case of bigo is based on the pain point of cluster operation and maintenance that we often encounter in the streaming scenario. With the help of the good integration of Apache pulsar and big data ecosystem, bigo has built a real-time recommendation and analysis system to help the rapid development of business and reduce the cost and difficulty of the original Kafka cluster operation and maintenance, especially the labor cost of capacity expansion and contraction.

Zhai Jia expressed his sincere thanks to his early customers, In his opinion, “the essence of cooperation is to reach a consensus. If basic software is to be truly successful, it must reach a wide-ranging and large-scale consensus. Otherwise, how can we talk about ‘Foundation’? Because of this, the commercial promotion cost of basic software is extremely high and difficult. Through the open source community, we can quickly land the high trust and difficult scene value, which is the best trust and the advantage of the open source model”.

Three or four of the pitfalls of entrepreneurship;
Things push people, misjudge demand priority

Kechuang people: what experiences have you had to subvert the past cognition along the way of entrepreneurship?
Zhai Jia: there are many. You can say several casually (laugh).

The first is to be pushed by things. Many start-ups have experienced the stage of fewer people and more things. As soon as they get busy, they only focus on “work”. They often forget what they do for and don’t care about talent training.

However, if you step on too many holes, you will know that this will not work. There are two solutions: first, establish a plan and clarify the action objectives. All things should build actions and prepare resources around the objectives. Even if there is a lack of resources, make a plan, such as a lack of talents. What kind of people do we need to do this? Think clearly and find someone; Second, fully authorize. If there are not enough people, you should find them. If you find them, you should trust your comrades in arms.

When the plan is made, the new pit is also coming. The most common problem in the entrepreneurial stage is: limited resources, which priority is higher for customer needs and strategic planning? At first, we thought it was right to meet the needs of paying customers. Customers are God and should work for people with money, but finally we found that this is wrong. There is a fundamental problem in the model of “customers’ needs – we meet”: the needs of customers need not be the optimal solution of the problem, and the best solution is more likely to be in our strategic planning, because we are the technical experts in this field, Better understand its existing problems and future potential. Therefore, we have increased the process of communicating priorities with customers to help customers understand that “according to our plan, problems can be solved more effectively”.

Facts have proved that customers choose you because they trust you, and those who trust you are willing to trust your judgment, as long as they communicate clearly.

Kechuang people: Kechuang people has shared a lot of authorization experience of the predecessors of Kechuang. Please also share your practical experience of authorization?
Zhai Jia: my style is firm and even radical authorization, and I fully trust my colleagues. Before implementation, I am only responsible for determining the planning and aligning the goals with my colleagues. After that, I don’t care about the specific things. I encourage my colleagues to do boldly and walk with confidence. When there is a problem, I’ll help you review it and think about how to solve it. If there is no problem, I’ll keep doing it.

The future of basic software in China

Science and technology innovators: have you ever wavered at the strategic level in the entrepreneurial process of streamnational?
Zhai Jia: Yes, but not at the technical level, but at the market strategy level. Streamnational has a number of overseas users whose willingness to pay and use scenarios are different from those in China. They prefer SaaS charging mode, while domestic users need to solve specific problems and prefer privatization deployment. At this time, there will be many different voices. For example, someone will suggest that you can obtain customers through SaaS mode overseas. Is it still necessary for these domestic customers?

Streamnational carefully considered the path of “overseas market + Commercial SaaS”, but finally decided to adhere to its own value proposition: the most important thing is not what model makes more money and makes faster money, but which model is really combined with the future of the product – domestic customers have rich scenes, large amount of data and rapid development. Streamnational will polish the products with the scenes of domestic communities and users to feed SaaS products.

Of course, it can not be denied that the willingness of foreign users to pay is much better than that of domestic users, and has given us a lot of encouragement. However, streamnational hopes to see the continuous improvement of the domestic environment. Now, the national level also pays more and more attention to open source, and streamnational will also participate in the overall digitization process in the country.

Future planning: product line unification

Science and technology innovator: talk about the planning and objectives of the next stage?
Zhai Jia: the core work is to realize the unification of the whole product line. We hope that all products use the same set of framework and code internally.

In the overall direction, we should control the advantages in message (MQ) and big data flow processing. One direction we are doing recently is to be closer to the big data pipeline scenario. We are discussing with Flink community how to apply pulsar in the scenario of batch stream integration and give full play to the advantages of pulsar’s cloud native architecture of separation of storage and computing.

In the message (MQ) direction, people pay more attention to the parsing of various message protocols. We are also working with other small partners in the community to enrich the ecology of this part.