New to the Industry, But Not the Journey

By February 26, 2019 Smart Data Protection

So why did a guy who spent his entire career in the media-and-entertainment data business decide to start over in a new market? On the surface, it seems like an odd or miscalculated move at this point in my career, but stay with me. Soon you’ll say, “now I get it.”

The truth is, the markets aren’t all that different. Whether you’re protecting and making accessible hundreds of thousands of individual data files for a Hollywood blockbuster or safeguarding a data center for an enterprise or government agency, the goals are the same — make sure your data is backed up, protected, preserved, and available at your fingertips if needed. And do it in the simplest, most efficient way possible.

In other words, Cobalt Iron’s market is adjacent to media and entertainment, with very similar industry trends and pain points that can be addressed through SaaS.

I told you there was a method to my madness.

For the past decade, I have overseen marketing and product management for a variety of software companies, all of which focused on best practices in data protection for M&E businesses. That is, they helped companies like TV networks and movie studios protect and preserve their large media files (videos) through on-premises data centers and private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid cloud workflows.

In the early 2000s, M&E technology for archiving and preservation was 100% dominated by purpose-built, proprietary hardware that ran exclusively on-premises. There was most certainly a better way — SaaS — so I spent many years marketing SaaS and hybrid cloud environments and evangelizing the products. All the while, our customers thought I was off in left field. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “you’re nuts to think we’d ever store and archive our crown jewels [video files] outside of our data center and firewall.” Fast forward to 2019, and virtually every media company around the globe is racing to reap the benefits of cloud computing. From video production to archive and preservation, the public cloud is dominating technology market share.

“Yeah, Andy, that’s great,” you say. “But why should I care?

Because enterprise data protection is at the same crossroads.

After living through M&E’s transition from hardware to SaaS, Cobalt Iron’s story was like déjà vu, so I knew I could add immediate value. Companies are fed up with expensive hardware solutions with proprietary technology and vendor lock-in. They want to move rapidly from large capex budgets to pay-as-you-go, opex models. Further, the days of exclusively protecting and backing up your data in an on-premises data center are over. More and more companies are looking at ways to incorporate cloud workloads into their data backup environments.

Here’s a snapshot of where M&E data custodians were in 2010 and where enterprise data custodians are now:

  • Fed up with vendor lock-in.
  • Looking to move from proprietary hardware to common off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware.
  • Want to transition to open, software-defined SaaS solutions.
  • APIs are key to hook into other technologies.
  • Days of exclusive on-premises workloads are gone.
  • See value in adopting private, public, and hybrid cloud environments.
  • Want to transition from capex to opex.
  • Desire SaaS operational and billing models.
  • Intrigued and bullish on how machine learning can streamline operations.

Sound familiar? It does to me.

So, as I wrap up 120 days in my new role leading marketing and product management, I’m excited by the challenge of learning a new industry with new technology. But that excitement comes with the comfort of knowing that a robust SaaS solution addresses a remarkably similar use case. I have a lot to learn before becoming a subject matter expert in enterprise data protection, but when it comes to navigating the macro industry trends above, I have a lot to teach, too. Like I said, a perfect match!

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