Executive InterviewsLatest

Meet Oren Eini – Creating Modern Day Solutions for Modern Day Problems 

Today we have selected Oren Eini to take his interview. He is the CEO of  RavenDB. 

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times? 

We offered remote working to our team long before the first lockdown. As a result, the technical infrastructure was running when COVID hit. We had all the protocols in place to handle working from home.  We were able to adapt pretty well to the new situation.  

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company? 

I think it’s my company that founded me! For years I was a software consultant, focusing on databases. I worked in relational solutions – you know, rows and tables. I saw the same inefficiencies between the applications and their database for every project, costing these companies a lot of time and money.  

How common were the problems?  

I had two clients; one was in elderly care, the other an auto parts distributor. My assistant made an honest mistake and sent the audit for the elderly care company to the auto parts team. The auto guys loved the report! The problems and solutions were so common that two very different companies could get the same report and not realize it. Relational technology has been used since the 1960s. Data has expanded massively since then, and using a model that began with the Beatles was breaking many applications. RavenDB is the solution. A document database to handle the new shape, scope, and scale of today’s data.  

How does your company innovate? 

We listen to our users. Our users are any of the millions of developers who have downloaded RavenDB.  We are open source so that anyone can make recommendations. I also have a blog, ayende.com, which has been discussing software development for almost 20 years. Some of my best clients use RavenDB in ways I never imagined, so I take their innovations and include them in the next version.  Of course, the industry is evolving rapidly, so obvious demands like a cloud service (RavenDB Cloud), Time Series modeling for the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning solutions are part and parcel of our progress.  But our bread and butter is our user base.  It was one of our first users who dared us to create automatic indexes. He showed me how he would do it, inspired us to set up a road map, and now we don’t let a single data query happen in RavenDB without an index to boost performance by orders of magnitude.  

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping? 

Coronavirus didn’t change things. It took a lot of what was in place and forced them front and center. We have offices in Europe and the Middle East with clients in North America, Europe, India, and Asia.  Most of our communications were by Zoom. All of our development was done by people in “remote” places working together.  Offering all employees the chance to work from home was, logistically, very simple.  We have a very diverse group of people, and it’s a pleasure to meet their unique needs using today’s technology. We had one developer who was in her last trimester who wanted to work from home. This was in 2016, and we made it happen. We had a husband who wanted to work from home right after the birth of his son so his wife could return to the office.  It gives me great joy to know that I can serve everyone’s needs during these tough times.  

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned? 

From day one, my policy was that employees come first. Whatever the challenge, we are in this together, and we will get through this together. That was my attitude before Corona started, and, G-d willing, this will be my attitude once this crisis is over and we are all on the other side of it.  

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis? 

Have faith in my team. My developers took RavenDB 1.0, and over the past decade, transformed it into a first-class enterprise solution. RavenDB 5.2 has everything any organization could need to manage today’s information. We were growing before the crisis, and we are continuing to grow. The heart of that growth lies in sharp leaders piloting their teams to accomplish their goals. A good team can do anything, and I am proud to say the amazing developers at RavenDB are proof.   

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game? 

Our biggest competitors are relational SQL databases.  They have the advantage of being the status quo, but we have a better model. These databases were originally made in the 1960s to handle the amount of data used. Over half a century later, this model of putting together information from a wide array of tables can’t keep up.  The key is to keep innovating. Many obvious changes occur in how we work with data simply because the technology now exists to make these changes easily. At the same time, there are fundamental shifts.  One example is how it took longer to process the data for decades once it arrived at the database. Today, it’s the opposite. It takes longer to send data from a server or user device than it does to process it.  To adapt to these tectonic changes, you have to create new features and data models. That can be a challenge in an industry where a lot of people want to play it safe.  On the one hand, decision-makers don’t want to take risks.

On the other hand, we cannot handle today’s scope and size of data without making mold-breaking changes.  It’s my responsibility to create a database that does the job. That’s why I have never taken funding. Modern applications cannot function without developing the features, and I need to consider only the developers of the applications, nothing else.  Many of our best features are things our customers come to us for, but venture capitalists would never have let us create.  We are guided only by what is best for our users, their applications, and their customers.  Things that get in the way of these objectives, like company stock price, another round of financing, and upselling to current clients, do not factor into our decision-making.  As a result, a lot of developers have moved from other database solutions to us. Over 95% of developers who use RavenDB stay with RavenDB – they see no reason to leave.  Our product is the best document database on the market – and that is the ultimate competitive advantage.  

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