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Move Your Codebase Easily To Remote Environment With Coder | Ammar Bandukwala

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Coder enables developers to move their actual development environment to a remote or cloud server that resembles the production environment, making it easier to manage software development environments. Coder aims to help developers develop faster with fewer bugs.

“With our product, you can encapsulate the development environment in a container, and then you can actually use that same container for your development environment as you use for your production environment. So you have total symmetry on all the software tools and just the entire system configuration,” says Ammar Bandukwala, CEO and Co-Founder at Coder, on this episode of TFiR Let’s Talk.

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • Bandukwala discusses his experiences as a programmer and the challenges he faced with developing for an environment that was dissimilar to his local machine. He explains what led to him starting Coder to tackle this problem.
  • Bandukwala explains how Coder works by moving their workspace off the local machine. He explains further how the IDE front-end and back-end work to achieve this seamless experience.
  • Coder’s target audience is larger regulated companies with complicated development environments. Bandukwala explains how this fits in with the context of development, testing and production.
  • Coder has already attracted many customers with 25% of the Fortune 100 using the product, and their open source has over 100,000 monthly active users. Bandukwala discusses the importance of open source to Coder and why it is so key to their funnel.
  • Coder has a large release planned for June, which aims to make it possible for anyone to get a remote development experience using any IDE on any infrastructure. Bandukwala explains the significance of this next release for Coder.
  • Bandukwala explains the benefits for developers using Coder in terms of developer flow and productivity.
  • Cloud adoption continues to present challenges for developers and the way code is written nowadays. Bandukwala explains how the landscape has changed and what effect this has had on IDE vendors. He discusses how the rise of containerization has simplified defining a production environment that is exactly like the development environment.

Connect with Ammar Bandukwala LinkedIn, Twitter

The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.

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Here is the automated and unedited transcript of the recording. Please note that the transcript has not been edited or reviewed. 

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host Swapnil Bhartiya and welcome to another episode of TFiR: Let’s Talk and today we have with us Ammar Bandukwala, CEO and co-founder at Coder. Ammar, it’s great to have you on the show.

Ammar Bandukwala: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Tell us a bit about the company because you are also a co-founder. So what is Coder all about?

Ammar Bandukwala: Yeah, so I’ll just, quickly say why we were founded. So, as kids, we were programmers, me and my co-founder, and we noticed that whenever we wanted to actually build software, we were developing for an environment that was very dissimilar from our local machine. Whether we were on Mac, developing for Linux, or windows developing for a server that was much larger than what we had locally. And so, we were always challenged by this and you resort to these weird workflows where you’re uploading source code using a file sync or something like that. And it just became very cumbersome. And so, really what we built the company to do is solve this problem. It’s to move the actual development environment to some remote server that actually resembles your production environment. So you can just develop faster with less bugs.

Swapnil Bhartiya: So, are you keeping the both copies in sync or how does that work?

Ammar Bandukwala: Yeah, so there really is no local copy anymore. It’s really just all on the server and what’s a novel about Coder, the actual question is, “Why don’t you just use VDI or V and C, and just stream the remote desktop?” And that’s pretty slow, you’re dealing with 20 milliseconds, 100 milliseconds latency. And especially if you’re a programmer, or someone who’s creative, that lack of interactivity is quite damaging. See, how with coder what we actually do is we run the ID front-end in the browser, so you have this really fast interactive editor that feels local, but then the IDE back-end is ran in the server. And so, that’s how we achieve this seamless experience.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Who would you consider your target audience? The fact is that everybody is running their workloads on a cloud, so they do have depth environment, production environment, testing.

Ammar Bandukwala: Yeah, exactly. Our ideal customer is a little bit surprising to many people. So, you might expect this is going to be a tool used by hip startups and more of the bleeding edge type software firms. But, in fact, the companies that benefit the most from this are larger regulated companies. Companies with very complicated development environments where development is really cumbersome and unfortunate. And so, to get to your question about how exactly does this fit in with dev test prod, this is basically its own environment, but it looks just like your production environment. And so, specifically with our product, you can encapsulate the development environment in a container, and then you can actually use that same container for your development environment as you use for your production environment. So you have total symmetry on all the software tools and just the entire system configuration.

Swapnil Bhartiya: And, can you also share, depending on how much you can share, either some of the use cases or if you can name those who are using it already?

Ammar Bandukwala: Yeah. So, I can’t name a lot of specific customers, but I will name that in terms of our open source, which does a part of this. I think we have 25% of the fortune 100 using the product. And our open source as well, has over a hundred thousand monthly active users.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Talk a bit about the importance of open source for Coder, how important it is, not just from the perspective of consuming code, but also contributing back.

Ammar Bandukwala: So, open source is pretty key to our funnel. It’s pretty key to our brand awareness. We’re developers by trade, we’re not marketers. And so, the easiest way to get a product out is just to make it free, let the world use it and then create a paid version. And so, the open source gives you just the sort of single player experience where you can create this remote IDE. And specifically, we converted VS Code to run in this remote browser based fashion. And then the enterprise product lets you actually take a set of computers and create this whole management experience where people can provision their own development environments.

Swapnil Bhartiya: And while we’re talking open source, you folks are also planning to make an announcement or you’re planning to release some code base on the open source as well. Tell us about that.

Ammar Bandukwala: Yeah. So, we released this open source three years ago, Code Server, and this was our first foray into open source that really focused on making VS Code running the browser. And so, we have this large release actually planned for June where we’re making it possible for basically anyone, any team in the world, to get a remote development experience using any IDE they want on any infrastructure. So, it’s a full management solution around remote development. So, we’re pretty excited for this.

Swapnil Bhartiya: There are two things that we look at in today’s cloud, [inaudible 00:04:48] one is, you have to make things easier. It should be of course cost efficient. So, when we look at Coder, what is the ROI that people can expect from it?

Ammar Bandukwala: This might seem silly to some people, but honestly, a big ROI is just developer happiness. We have developers, at some of our customers, that say they would quit if Coder was taken away from them because their builds are tests are a lot faster. They’re experiencing less bugs, they’re just shipping more code. And so, it’s really just that simple, it’s more developer flow, more developer productivity.

Swapnil Bhartiya: So you folks have been around for a while, what kind of evolution have you seen in the whole… The world that we live in because things have changed because of the cloud [inaudible 00:05:30] is the way we are writing and deploying code has also changed. So how much changes have you seen from the perspective of writing the actual code and how the company itself has evolved with these changes?

Ammar Bandukwala: Yeah. It’s huge and the company wouldn’t have been possible to start before we started. And I think that was a little bit of a coincidence. One huge thing is, IDE vendors now have first class support for this remote, I guess, setup. And so VS Code has VS Code Remote, Jet Brains has Jet Brains Gateway. And so, with the IDE vendors actually supporting it themselves, it’s a lot more reliable. It’s a lot more applicable to more developers. The other thing is, just the rise of containerization. The rise of containerization makes it very simple for you to define a production environment that’s exactly like your development environment. And so, if we didn’t have these two sort of technological trends, it would’ve been a lot harder to make people use the product.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Ammar, thank you so much for taking time out today and talk about the company. Also, talk about the problem, that I think most of us overlook and we sometimes assume that this is a solved problem, but the way you mentioned it, that it does look like, that it just makes life so much more easier and the whole process becomes easier. So, thanks for sharing those insights. And I would love to have you back on the show because I’m pretty sure that you folks have a lot of things to talk about.

Ammar Bandukwala: Yeah. Thanks a lot for having me. I’d love to be back at some point.

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