How VictoriaMetrics' open source approach led to mass industry adoption

VictoriaMetrics, an open-source time series database company, solves scalability issues and fostering organic growth through community contributions.
How VictoriaMetrics' open source approach led to mass industry adoption

One of the most compelling aspects of a startup is its ability to solve perpetual painpoints, especially in software development. A startup has found a novel way to get its software into the hands of thousands of developers, thanks to its open source status. 

VictoriaMetrics is a time series database company built for engineers by engineers. It was founded in Kyiv, Ukraine, and is now globally led and headquartered in the US. 

I spoke to co-founder Roman Khavronenko recently at KubeCon Paris, and he offered compelling proof that companies that fail to adopt an open source approach will be left behind. 

Open source time series databases (OSTSDB/TSDB) are specialised databases optimised for handling time-stamped data, such as metrics, events, and measurements collected over time.

VictoriaMetrics lets users build a monitoring platform without scalability issues and minimal operational burden. This makes it possible to store 10x more data using the same compute and storage resources as existing solutions.

It is designed to handle large volumes of time-series data, making it well-suited for use cases such as infrastructure and application monitoring, IoT sensor data analytics, network metrics collection, and real-time analytics.

According to Khavronenko:

"Basically, anything can be telemetry. I believe that all companies will l start collecting and analyzing telemetry data, in one form or another at some point. IoT, automotive, every IT company will seek telemetry data that they can use to make forecasts."

Telemetry is particularly popular in the Kubernetes and cloud-native monitoring space, supporting Kubernetes-native deployment and integration. In IoT, open telemetry provides a vendor-neutral means to collect, manage, and export telemetry data from IoT systems, enabling enhanced observability. 

VictoriaMetrics was established after years of development experience facing the constant shortcomings of existing solutions.

 Its software is designed for building high-performance monitoring systems, ready for any scale. From the start, it has gained traction in a competitive environment by adopting open source principles and practices. 

Open source software is good marketing 

Khavronenko asserts that open source software "is not about being altruistic, its good marketing." 

"Being open source allows other engineers to examine your product without bias or obligation to obtain certificates or buy something. It's on GitHub. 

You can check every line of code, see how other people contribute to it, and see how other people use it.

And this is exactly how we currently position our product."

VictoriaMetrics open source approach fosters organic growth, community contributions, and user-driven development.

Khavronenko, who had never ran a startup before, recalled:

"VictoriaMetrics started without any investment. We had only our PoC written by one engineer, and then we published it on GitHub. Since then, we have had this natural growth of interest from users just occasionally finding our product on GitHub or in a blog post.

I'm just an engineer, and I will remain an engineer. And I thought that you need to invest a lot to make projects popular. You need marketing and advertising. 

And when we started VictoriaMetrics we didn't have funding or connections.

"Engineers and engineers worldwide are looking to solve their problems. "We provide the documentation and guides so they can try the tools independently. You can check every line of code, see how other people contribute to it, and see how others use it.

Then, when they contact us they've done proof of concept, they put their hands on the product, tested it, and now they want to take it to the next step. 

We are usually contacted by companies we never talked to or didn't even know existed. They already use our tools internally, but they want help to go bigger. They want guidance and advice.

They try VictoriaMetrics products for free. And they keep that knowledge. 

Users of VictoriaMetrics products transfer that knowledge when they move companies: 

They go to other companies, and they say, 'Hey, I see we have a problem, but I solved this problem before with this tool.'

And they propagate the knowledge across Europe and further inside their companies.

If they are satisfied and the product is good, then they continue."

Community-driven product development to solve industry problems 

In practice open source software is like a self-regulating system which improves the product quality over time. It's driven by the user community and "if a person wants to do something and there's no such functionality in the open source project, they go and create an issue or ask how it can be done."

"You have this natural demand of what people want.

Instead of paying some company to do this resource investigation, how observability will develop in years, you have the real examples.

So I believe all other software will be developed in open source.

Because this is how you spread new knowledge, this is how you make things better."

Its an approach that has given the company traction across a diverse range of industries. VictoriaMetrics now boasts 400+ million downloads. Its customers include Adidas, Grammarly and Wix. They also support the work of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN,

VictoriaMetrics also provides a complementary machine-powered anomaly detection tool that can be run as a sidebar and learn from the telemetry you inject. 

It handles seasonality, trends and the other unique characteristics of metrics data, generating unified anomaly scores.

The company has also developed VictoriaLogs, a "user-friendly database for logs" and is designed for storing and querying large volumes of log data.

Logs enable users to search, filter, transform, and perform advanced analytics on large volumes of log data from various sources. It makes it possible to effectively monitor, troubleshoot, and gain insights from massive amounts of log data in modern, distributed systems.

Khavronenko notes that the company intends to use its experience and success of VictoriaMetrics’ solution to invest in VictoriaLogs to produce the same quality of open source tooling. 

"Then we will continue improving our ecosystem and integrating these two components."

Khavronenko is modest about his company's success, offering a testament to software startups looking at how to gain customers: 

"What is amazing to me is that I didn't expect this kind of inbound marketing to succeed. But we show that it can happen organically."

Lead image: VictoriaMetrics. Photo: uncredited. 

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