Rainmakers’ Spotlight: Scality’s Jerome Lecat on software defined storage at petabyte scale

Jerome Lecat Scality

Jerome Lecat ScalityMajor customer deployments, continued Enterprise and OpenStack product investment and management team expansion are among 2014 achievements thus far as cited by Scality. Since our first review of the company in June 2012, it has gone on to expand its use cases and acquired a wider range of customers that span video on-demand provider RTL Interactive to  Los Alamos National Laboratory. We caught up with founder and CEO Jerome Lecat to find out what it takes for a start-up to win in mission critical environments.

The technology industry continues to change fast. What do you see as the top three trends?
Well, I think like many companies, what’s driving our evolution is the evolution of IT more generally. In 15 years, we’ve seen a massive explosion in the use of IT. And with that has come very different expectations from companies and from end-users. End-users are expecting an app-like relationship with IT. Companies want the reliability of zero downtime, but at the same time, IT has been much more consumerised, especially with the rise of BYOD. So solutions have to be much more flexible and maybe paradoxically, increasingly simple. They really need to work on any device. Companies want to be able to analyse their data, including big data, to get increasingly useful insights. And compliance is more and more important.

What customer buying trends drive your marketing and sales priorities?
We’re aiming to serve customers who want flexibility without having to buy infrastructure. What’s special about Scality’s RING software is that it doesn’t need any particular infrastructure. It runs on standard x86 servers, and it works on any device. The market that we’re in is focused virtualised storage, effectively software-based storage or software-defined storage. There are other companies operating in the same space, but I think our offering may be a bit more mature than most, which makes us more reliable.

How do you characterise software-defined storage maturity?
We’ve had zero downtime since 2010, which puts our long-term reliability close to 100%. This is crucial for mission-critical services. We’ve got a really good algorithm, with plenty of built-in redundancy, and no single point of failure. We believe we’ve solved one of the biggest headaches in storage terms: we’re enabling our customers to compete with the Gmail model. Our customers use our software to serve 110 million users, and the average download speed for an email is under 40ms. And our offering is pretty low-cost too, not just the email, but the software means that storage is much less costly too.

Do you focus on particular sectors, and are there differences between them?
Service providers are our main customers, although that’s really grown organically. We’ve also seen growth beyond our initial market, and now serve a much wider range of service providers, as well as media and financial companies. We work with consumer service providers such as Virgin Media, Orange, and Libero, and also Cloud providers such as Host Europe. We see different customers use different aspects of our services, for example, some use Scality’s software to offer cloud services, others use it for large scale consumer webmail, or active archiving. Media companies use it for video storage, and we have quite a lot of companies who use our software to support collaboration and data sharing, and backup purposes, which is possible because it’s so reliable. We’re also seeing it used to support big data-type operations, for example by Time Warner Cable, and for technical computing by DLR. But these differences aren’t really by sector, more by preference.

How has cloud computing adoption changed your portfolio and go-to-market priorities?
Scality doesn’t actually offer cloud, but our software enables our customers to offer it to their end-users. But that said, our software is very much designed for the cloud generation. We’ve grown up with cloud as part of our environment.

How does thought leadership feature in your go-to-market?
We try to focus on solving our customers’ problems, which of course is thought leadership in its most practical sense. Analysts are starting to see us as one of the leaders in our field, which is an important precursor to thought leadership. It was nice to have recognition from the IDC Object Storage report in Q4 of last year that we offered ‘complete solutions through partnership’. And we were Gartner Cool Vendor 2013 in the Storage Category. We were really pleased about both these, because it shows that it’s not just marketing hype or our messages.

You can follow Jerome at @jlecat

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