Summary:

Infrastructure is important for today’s applications and services, but Javier Soltero has been there and done that. Now he wants to focus on building an application lots of employees at enterprises will actually want to use.

You know the tide has changed when a card-carrying on-premise data-center infrastructure guy commits to the cloud for his next startup.

Javier Soltero (pictured on right), who left VMware earlier this year and has since spent his time as an entrepreneur in residence at Redpoint Ventures, wrote in a Monday blog post that he and “a small team of very bright people” are starting a new company called Acompli.

The post was short on details — we had to call to get some of those — although it did convey that Soltero wrestled with the notion of whether he should actually go forward in a new direction the way he is:

I was going back and forth attempting to reconcile my experience from the prior 8 years as an entrepreneur with what lay ahead. Struggling to answer questions which I only knew to ask because this time wouldn’t be my first time around. I had been going through that struggle for a few days before that moment in the car, but until then, I kept getting stuck in a mental stalemate which prevented me from taking the necessary next step.

Of course, he was able to decide to keep going, because here we are discussing his startup. But the experience is nonetheless worth noting given that it proves there is a palpable shift at work here, that the tectonic plates of technology are changing under us and that he is rolling with it.

On the phone, Soltero explained that Acompli (pronounced uh-KOM-plee, in case you were wondering) will indeed be different from what’s in Soltero’s wheelhouse.

It will not be like the underlying e-commerce and internet infrastructure such as web and application servers he developed at Netscape — the sort of stuff “most people today take for granted,” he has said. And it will not be like the open-source infrastructure management he helped construct at Hyperic, the company he co-founded before it got bought by SpringSource, which in turn was bought by VMware — which is how he ended up becoming that company’s chief technology officer of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and application services.

So what exactly will Acompli do? Soltero won’t answer directly, although he did suggest that the company will offer up enterprise software that could run on shared infrastructure. In other words, think SaaS running on a public cloud.

It sounds like the software won’t be the kind of product a few IT admins will use.

“The next great enterprise software businesses are all going to start with end-user-led products — things that users choose on their own, and IT gets involved in blessing and purchasing in some capacity (only later on),” Soltero said. Needless to say, the approach is different at VMware.

He cited cloud-storage provider Box as an example. That product is often first adopted by a few users here and there before the enterprise signs up as customers. Small wonder Box CEO Aaron Levie talks about providing “a consumer-grade experience.”

As for whether the software will be open-source, the answer is no, Soltero said, even though Hyperic was, and even though the spirit is something Soltero believes in.

Whatever Acompli turns out to be, Soltero and his team are taking their time to build it from an office in San Francisco, with an eye on launching it this fall. Given that it’s such a departure from Soltero’s bread and butter, and that it appears to be in step with the times, it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Feature image courtesy of Flickr user Kevin Krejci.

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