Read All About It: Interviews With Our CEO Steve Millidge

Photo of Priya Khaira-Hanks by Priya Khaira-Hanks

Did you know? Payara Services is the proud recipient of a 2021 Queen's Award for Enterprise - International Trade. Often called the "Knighthood for Business", theQueen's Award is the UK's premier business accolade. 

On the back of this achievement, our CEO and Founder Steve Millidge was in high demand as an interviewee. In two recent interviews, you can find out more about what winning this award meant, Payara as a business, more about our open source business model and even Steve's motto! 

Read Steve's Interview in Technology Reseller 

Payara was the subject of a business profile inTechnology Reseller:technology reseller contents page

Tell us about Payara Services in just a few sentences.

Payara is a born-global, micro multinational software company headquartered in the UK, with offices in Portugal. We are an organisation with a ‘remote first’ hiring approach, meaning we have customers and team members across the world. Our open source software tools are used to build transactional cloud-native web applications, making us a recognised leader in the creation of innovative infrastructure software for today and tomorrow and allowing us to gain a community of users and contributors that span the globe.

What is the Payara Platform and how is it different to other open source product offerings?

The Payara Platform consists of open source server runtimes for development projects and containerisedJakarta EEand MicroProfile applications. Developers create applications using the industry standard Jakarta EE and MicroProfile APIs and then deploy their application on the
Payara Platform.

The Payara Platform ensures that their application runs with optimum performance, scalability and
manageability. Our team is always focused on ensuring that we provide the Javadeveloper community with the best experience. Our goal is to provide a platform that enables the developer
to take their application and scale from edge devices likeRaspberry Pis; through traditional infrastructure, like servers and VMs; to containers and Kubernetes; right through to hyper-scale public cloud providers likeAmazon AWS andMicrosoft Azure. We want developers to concentrate
on building their applications while we take care of the infrastructure.

How does the Payara Platform cater to the needs of Java developers and the wider Java community?

Primarily, the Payara Platform implements the Jakarta EE and MicroProfile specifications. These are industry standard Java APIs that millions of developers use every day to build large scale internet
facing applications. The Payara team contribute to the development and evolution of these APIs alongside industry giants likeOracle,IBMandRedHat. We look to develop these APIs to meet the
needs of the Java developer community.

We engage with the community through forums, social media, mailing lists and surveys to determine what they need from the platform. Being open source, there are no barriers to the Payara team working with the community to drive the standards to meet their needs. In addition, when building the Payara Platform, we work to build the best developer and operations experience. We can develop and evolve Payara’s software through the open source development process – with a communityof contributors spanning the globe. We aim to release our software ‘early and often’ so we can gather feedback from users and hone the software to their needs.

Payara releases monthly updates of the Payara Platform – what do these consist of and how important are they to your users?

As mentioned above, part of our open source philosophy is to release the Payara Platform to the community early and often, and releasing the software monthly is key to that. By rapidly releasing these features, the community has a greater opportunity to try out, comment and suggest changes that would make the software better. Our monthly releases (as well as being key to developing
future features) also contain any bug fixes, ensuring that quality is maintained.

For our Enterprise customers we also provide bug fixes and security patches monthly to ensure that the Payara Platform delivers a robust platform for running mission-critical applications. In a rapidly
changing threat landscape, it is essential that regular updates are provided and that users move to the latest versions. For Enterprise customers, we also provide out of-cycle emergency patches as required.

What is the difference between the Payara Platform Community Edition and the Payara Platform Enterprise Edition?

All our software is open source, so the key difference between our Community Edition and Enterprise Edition is really the philosophy and therefore the development processes behind them.

With Payara Community, our community engineers are really focused on rapid innovation, getting
the latest and greatest software capabilities into the hands of developers. Community Edition tends to get features delivered first and provides the latest API functionality fast. This gives us the opportunity to gain rapid feedback from the community andact on this by creating features to deliver
what they need. This is fantastic when you are developing applications, as you want
the latest innovations to help you develop your application.

However, once you deploy your application into production and are supporting thousands of users in a mission-critical environment, stability is more important than innovation, and that’s where Payara Enterprise comes in.

Payara Enterprise is robust, scalable, manageable, high performance software for running mission-critical systems in production and containerised Jakarta EE applications. This means our Enterprise
development team only incorporates features from Community when they are happy that they have evolved and are ready to support mission-critical workloads. Payara Enterprise also ensures backwards compatibility so that it is easy to migrate from one point release to another, safely in
production. As applications in production may have a long lifetime, we match this in Enterprise by supporting for 10 years so that companies know their applications can be supported for the foreseeable future.

How do you ensure 24/7 delivery of production, development and migration support to your customers based all around the world?

The Payara team is global – we have engineers throughout the world in many time zones, speaking many languages. Our service team delivers support to our customers remotely from wherever they are based. As our service tools are all internet hosted, they can be accessed from anywhere and customers can raise tickets or speak to engineers 24/7 from their time zone. For mission critical priority 1 issues, we run a global telephone line which is routed to whichever engineer is available
at the time. They will call the customer to ensure that they can get their applications up and running as fast as possible.

Payara recently won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade. As an open source company, how important is a strategy for overseas trade?

International trade has been part of our strategy since I founded the company. We like to say we were ‘born global’. The nature of open source means that users are free to download our Community
Edition software, build applications and then deploy them into production. We aim – through documentation, guides and blogs – to ensure that people all over the world can easily adopt the Payara Platform. This means from day one our software has been used globally and we have had to be focused on our ability to serve customers all over the world. As there are no geographic barriers
in downloading and using open source software, an open source company requires an overseas trading strategy. A key part of that strategy, for us, is our remote first hiring. We aim to hire the best talent anywhere in the world. This gives us a diverse team both geographically, linguistically and culturally, which matches our customer base.

Can you tell us about any new product launches/projects coming up?

In the autumn, we will be launching Payara Cloud. This will be a new hosted platform that will enable Jakarta EE developers to take their application and deploy it to the public cloud and be up and running in seconds. This will free up developers to build their applications while Payara Cloud manages and configures the infrastructure required to get their application running on the public cloud. Payara Cloud will enable developers to run their applications in many different geographic regions while delivering the scalability, high availability and performance that they need.

How will the Payara Cloud enable you to continue growing the success of the open source business model?

Payara Cloud will deliver a new revenue stream to Payara and will enable us to invest further in our open source Payara Platform. Payara Cloud will be priced for developers that want to use the Payara
Platform but cannot invest in Payara Enterprise or do not have the in-house knowledge to take applications onto public cloud. We believe this will expand the user base of the Payara Platform to smaller development organisations. We also aim to incorporate the technology we have created in Payara Cloud into the wider Payara open source platform to deliver to developers for easy deployment to public cloud and hybrid cloud environments.

How do you think you’ve innovated the open source industry and why?

The Payara team are focused on delivering the best solutions for Jakarta EE and MicroProfile developers. Our mission is to deliver a platform that scales fromEdge Computing through to Hyper-scale cloud. To deliver that vision, we have innovated the creation of Payara Micro as the lightweight middleweight platform of choice for small hardware platforms and containers. With Payara Cloud, we are creating the next generation of cloud native application server that will deploy applications at the opposite end of the scale directly to public cloud.

How do you believe the evolution of tech will affect your industry over the next five years?

There has been a revolution in software defined infrastructure over the last five years with virtualisation, containerisation, cloud and container orchestration platforms likeKubernetes. However, much of this revolution has resulted in complexity and turned many developers into infrastructure engineers who spend too much time building and configuring complex infrastructure tools in obscure languages.

Now the challenge is to enable developers to focus on developing applications and provide platforms like Payara Cloud that configure and manage this infrastructure on their behalf, enabling developers to run the same application on an Edge Device or in the public cloud on top of Kubernetes.

If this interview has got you interested in our next-generation application server Payara Cloud, find out more: 

Payara Cloud 

Read Steve's Interview in Business Matters 

In Business Matters, Steve was the subject of a personal industry profile, discussing his inspirations and philosophy as a leader. business mattersWhat do you currently do?

I like to say my role as ‘founder’ is to do any job that nobody else is doing (badly) and then get the company to the point where we can hire a professional to do the job properly. Currently I am CEO of Payara, so I head up the senior leadership and management teams, driving overall business strategy and direction. I also head up the Product Management function so I help define what software we build, when and why to maximise adoption in the market and meet customer needs.

What defines your way of doing business? 

Prior to Payara, I founded a consulting company. Consulting companies are simple, but horrible to manage and difficult to scale. My first love is developing software and building software tools – especially software that is widely used by lots of people – so when an opportunity arose to take some open source software that had been abandoned and improve, strengthen and build its future development, I took that opportunity and decided to turn my consulting business into a software business.

Who do you admire? 

I don’t have any specific heroes, however, I have a motto which my wife says she will engrave on my tombstone which is “do stuff and stuff happens”. I therefore admire anybody that gets up and makes things happen. Anybody that strives for excellence in whatever they do. Anybody that tries to make a difference. Anybody that tries to make things better. Doing those things is extremely difficult, and it is easy to stop in the face of apathy and negativity. I admire all those people that make a difference.

What defines your way of doing business? 

When I created my first business, I founded a software business, however, I was distracted by my sales team who believed it was easier to sell consultancy services rather than software. Ten years later, I had a consultancy business. I should have ignored that advice and carried on creating a software business. My recommendation for anyone starting out with a product business is not to be lured by short term services revenue over product revenue. After that one big thing, there are hundreds and hundreds of things that I would do differently in hindsight. If I had the knowledge I have now, I wouldn’t have done it that way. Growing a business is doing stuff, making things happen and then thinking “I could have done that better if only I’d known”. However, you don’t know so you have to just do. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

I’m a shepherd. I like to set overall vision, strategy and direction and then let the team take the initiative and deliver to the best of their ability. My role then is to shepherd the team if they are straying away from the mission. I like open environments where people are free to discuss problems and work on solutions to make things better. I think a direction of travel is better than agonising over a plan to get there. Also, I’m product focused. I want to deliver products that are useful to customers. Everything we build must have value to our customers – that is the most efficient way to success.

What advice would you give to someone starting out? 

At this point I go back to my motto: “do stuff and stuff happens”. Fundamentally what this means is you shouldn’t agonise and plan everything out. Start small, try your idea, make small improvements, get feedback, reach out to potential customers, users, whoever can give you feedback and help you hone what you want to do. Listen to experts as another data point but don’t slavishly follow anything they say as they don’t know your business. Worry about what needs to be done next to move things forward but don’t worry about mapping out the whole journey as that way lies paralysis. The flip side of my motto is “do nothing, nothing happens” and that is a certainty. So, my advice to someone starting out is: What is the first step you need to do to get started? Do it! And once you’ve done it, see where you are and work out the next step then.

If you are interested in more content from Steve, make sure to watch his 'Dismiss the Myths: Getting to Know Jakarta EE/ Java EE' series, where he busts myths around enterprise Java: 

Dismiss the Myths: More Information