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Interview with Mitchell Hashimoto on Vagrant Cloud End of Beta

by Matthias Marschall on Jun 30, 2014 |

Mitchell Hashimoto, the creator of Vagrant, has released his latest product Vagrant Cloud to the public. Vagrant Cloud enables developers to share their locally running Vagrant instances remotely. Additionally Vagrant Cloud is a central place for storing and discovering Vagrant Boxes. With the new Organizations feature, Vagrant Cloud users can limit access to their boxes or shared Vagrant instances with Access Control Lists (ACL).

After a little over two months in public beta, HashiCorp has switched from a completely free model to a new pricing model. While sharing of running Vagrant instances and hosting of public Vagrant boxes remains free, the enterprise features like using Organizations or private boxes are now paid features.

InfoQ has talked to Mitchell Hashimoto about the launch of Vagrant Cloud:

What were your reasons behind creating your own cloud product?

Discovering Vagrant boxes has been a problem for a long time. In addition to this, one of the most popular feature requests was for box versioning. Both of these features inevitably require some sort of server component.

We decided to build Vagrant Cloud to solve these problems, but also to ship a few other features we've always wanted to do (Vagrant Share) but again haven't been able to because Vagrant has never really had a server component.

Simply put, we built Vagrant Cloud to make using Vagrant nicer.

How fast is Vagrant Cloud growing in number of users and usage?

It is growing much faster than we ever could've imagined. At the time of writing, Vagrant Cloud has been public for maybe two months, and last week we crossed 1,000,000 box downloads. That is great!

I think its safe to say that Vagrant Cloud is working well.

How did you decide which features to keep free and what to charge for?

We launched Vagrant Cloud in public beta with everything free. We then waited and contacted the most active users (by various metrics) and used their input to guide us on what we should and should not pay for. In addition to their input, we looked at our statistics and looked where people were using the product and where it was costing us money.

A primary goal was not to impede on the usage of Vagrant with paid features. Therefore, public boxes and Vagrant Share are free. We didn't want someone to use a feature of Vagrant and have Vagrant say "you have to pay for that." So we targeted advanced feature usage: private boxes, custom share domains, etc.

How did your users react on your pricing model?

100% positively. At the time of this writing, we haven't heard a single complaint, and we've signed up quite a few customers. I think we chose the right things to charge for.

Do you consider Docker as a threat to your new Vagrant Cloud business?

No, Vagrant Cloud is made for Vagrant users. If the Vagrant user also happens to be a Docker user, then it assists with that, too, since it provides base images for various Docker setups if you don't want to use the default that Docker provides.

What is your long term vision for Hashicorp and Vagrant Cloud?

HashiCorp's goal and vision is to build and provide tools for a software-managed datacenter. 

Vagrant and Vagrant Cloud is one part of this vision. It is an important part, to be sure, and one we'll support for a long time, but it is important to remember that it is only one part. We also have Packer, Serf, and Consul. These tools have been growing at a great rate and we've had a lot of success here.

Some people point at Vagrant Cloud and see it as one of the only things we're charging for, and assume that is our core business. It isn't. We're focusing hard on R&D right now, so you'll keep seeing some more free projects come out of us. But expect a lineup of commercial products to follow soon!

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