Trends in and the Future of Infrastructure | Summary and Q&A

July 15, 2017
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Trends in and the Future of Infrastructure


The infrastructure market is undergoing a transformation, creating opportunities for new startups to disrupt traditional incumbents.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How much of the infrastructure market has been disrupted by the shift to cloud technology?

Only about 6% of the infrastructure market has been transformed, leaving immense opportunities for further disruption.

Q: What happens with each transformation in the history of computer science?

The market size increases, and new incumbents emerge while old ones no longer remain relevant or successful.

Q: How does the shift towards software-defined infrastructure benefit startups?

Startups can focus on developing their core software technology without the need to invest heavily in hardware supply chains. This reduces costs and allows for greater innovation.

Q: What advantages do startups have in entering the infrastructure market?

Startups have the advantage of easier access to funding and can leverage the trends of software-defined infrastructure, infrastructure as a service, and the rise of developers as a buying center to drive their growth.


In this video, Martine Casado, a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, discusses the future of infrastructure. He argues against the perception that infrastructure is dying and explains how it is actually transforming into a bigger and more exciting era. He highlights three key trends driving this transformation: the move from hardware to software, the shift from software to services, and the rise of developers as a buying center. Casado explains the advantages these trends offer to startups and emphasizes the potential for disruption and growth in the infrastructure space.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the current perception of the infrastructure industry and why does Casado disagree with it?

The current perception is that infrastructure is dying, with the rise of cloud computing and the dominance of a few large players. However, Casado believes this is incorrect, and instead argues that infrastructure is undergoing a transformation into a new era filled with opportunities.

Q: How does Casado define the Software Defined movement?

Casado defines the Software Defined movement as the implementation and delivery of functionality entirely in software. It means moving away from hardware-based solutions and utilizing software-based approaches instead.

Q: How has the consumer devices industry been disrupted by the shift to software?

Consumer devices, such as GPS devices, used to be fixed-function hardware. However, with the rise of smartphones and software applications like Waze, the industry has shifted towards software-based solutions. This has allowed for greater innovation, faster development, and the creation of significant value.

Q: How is infrastructure following a similar pattern to consumer devices?

Just as consumer devices have moved from hardware to software, infrastructure is undergoing a similar transformation. With the maturation of software stacks and the availability of insertion points in various infrastructure layers, functionality can now be delivered in software rather than physical hardware.

Q: What advantages does delivering infrastructure in software offer for startups?

Delivering infrastructure in software reduces the need for a costly hardware supply chain and allows startups to focus on their core competency of software development. It also enables faster distribution, lower costs, and easier implementation of new features or updates.

Q: How is infrastructure transitioning from software to services?

Infrastructure is moving towards being provided as services, similar to how enterprise applications have become Software as a Service (SaaS). This transition allows startups to deliver core infrastructure components as services, reducing the complexity of installation, upgrading, and support.

Q: Why is the rise of developers as a buying center significant?

Developers now have more influence over infrastructure purchasing decisions. They prioritize factors like technical elegance, community, open source, and low-friction adoption. This shift in the buying center disrupts the traditional go-to-market strategies of incumbents and creates opportunities for startups that can cater to developers' preferences.

Q: How can startups leverage developer influence to their advantage?

Startups can gain traction and credibility by attracting developers through open source projects and engaging their community. However, it is important to note that attracting developers does not necessarily lead to direct sales. Startups still need to build out an enterprise sales force to monetize their products effectively.

Q: Are the old go-to-market strategies of incumbents becoming obsolete?

Yes, the traditional go-to-market strategies of incumbents are becoming less effective in the face of developer-driven purchasing decisions. Startups have an advantage in this new landscape, as they can focus on delivering innovative software solutions and leverage the preferences of developers.

Q: Is the infrastructure industry undergoing a significant disruption?

According to Casado, the infrastructure industry is experiencing a major disruption. He believes that the entire infrastructure space is shifting towards new paradigms, such as software, services, and developer-centric approaches. This disruption is expected to impact trillions of dollars in market cap and create new opportunities for companies providing innovative technologies and services.


Casado's talk highlights the future of infrastructure as a transformation rather than a decline. He discusses three key trends driving this transformation: the shift from hardware to software, the move towards delivering infrastructure as services, and the rise of developers as a buying center. He emphasizes the advantages that these trends offer to startups, such as reduced costs, faster distribution, and alignment with developer preferences. Casado believes that the infrastructure industry is undergoing a significant disruption, creating opportunities for new entrants to redefine the market.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The infrastructure market is currently being disrupted by the shift to cloud technology, but this disruption is just the beginning, as the market is only about 6% transformed.

  • With each transformation in the history of computer science, the market size has increased, and new incumbents have emerged while old ones faded away.

  • The current transformation from hardware to software-defined infrastructure is allowing startups to enter the market with innovative solutions that can be delivered more easily and efficiently through software.

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