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4 Reasons Why Carbon Black Co-Founder Ben Johnson Prioritizes Cloud Cost at His Latest Startup

|August 12, 2020|

After growing Carbon Black from nothing to over 800 employees, Founder and CTO Ben Johnson turned his attention to the security of SaaS applications with new startup Obsidian Security. Obsidian secures companies like Office 365, G Suite, Salesforce, Slack, and Zoom.

This time around, Ben is a seasoned founder and is proactively thinking about how to scale his company with healthy product margins. He uses CloudZero to monitor his AWS costs, detect anomalies, and enable his engineering team.

Here are four reasons that Ben shared with us about why he’s now focusing on cloud cost monitoring:

 

In a crowded market like cybersecurity, keeping cost low is key.

Cybersecurity companies are in a hot market. That's great, but a hot market also means it's crowded with other companies. You’re competing for venture investment and customer dollars.

In a competitive market, it's essential that the majority of your budget is used to hire great people and invest in growing parts of the business — not just paying the cloud bills.

 

Cloud cost monitoring and ingesting event logs or telemetry gets expensive.  

A lot of cybersecurity products on the market are very data-centric and data-driven. Cloud cost monitoring involves looking at lots of event logs and telemetry. You probably have data pipelines and all sorts of other stuff that can quickly add a cost. The more you can reduce that cost and make your dollar go farther, the longer your runway and the better off the entire company will be.

 

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Cost guardrails help engineers move faster.

Every engineering decision is a billing or cost decision. However, I don’t want my team worrying about cost so much that they’re thinking, “Oh, I can't do this one thing that's really going to help our business, because it's going to increase our cost by 100 bucks.” I want to them focused on hard technical computer science or cybersecurity problems. At the same time, I also don't want them spinning up things out of control or wasting compute and storage. Having a sort of a safety net, or a backstop in place, allows the team to focus on building while giving me some peace of mind. Now every morning I can log in and make sure things didn't skyrocket. And if they did, I probably would have gotten a notification about it.

 

He can scale the company without margins and costs creeping up on him.

I like to know when we have a huge spike in the bill, for example if it went up $1,000 overnight, so I can fix it quickly. Finding out right away versus five days from now makes me feel like I just saved four or $5,000.

By alerting ourselves to unnatural spikes or things we didn't expect, we can continue to grow while spending as little as possible on AWS — which is kind of every startup’s dream. You can build your company without worrying about margins and costs creeping up on you.

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