Features, Insight, Interviews

ALL FLASH Performance at archive economics

Haider Aziz, VASTDATA, Regional Director Middle East & Africa, discusses how their company aims to redo the entire data centre stack infrastructure by addressing hardware and storage problems.

How are you solving these legacy infrastructure problems?

It ultimately comes down to the tiering of data. There are a lot of limitations. With new applications and algorithms, you really want fast access to the entirety of the dataset, and so the whole concept of tiering is now obsolete. We’re building a brand-new architecture that allows us to break those age-old trade-offs between price and performance and capacity and resilience, and to build one system that really does collapse that pyramid of storage tiers.

What are some of the shifts and changes in the enterprise? 

10 years ago, it was all about rows and columns and transactional databases and the beginning of analytics. Data is changing both in its form and in the access patterns. We need very fast access to very large types of data – images, video that computers can now analyse and gain insight from. We’re now seeing more natural data, pictures, video, and genomes. Things that computers really didn’t have any business analysing before are now becoming much more interesting. This is also transforming the access pattern because these data sets are so much larger than the ones that we had before, but they need very fast access in order to run these training and inference algorithms.

Tell us about your global presence, especially as it relates to the Middle East. 

We’re growing globally. Have started with building a foundation of customers in North America and Europe and are now having success in the Middle East.

Can you talk about the health of your business? 

From a financial perspective, and even more important to consider relative to our growth, is that we’ve outpaced any infrastructure company in terms of revenue while maintaining vigilance over our cost structure to achieve cash flow positivity exiting our second full year of revenue. In terms of the minimum revenue requirement over the past 12 months, we’ve delivered 10X above the $10 million threshold and expect to continue our growth trajectory for the foreseeable future.

Tell us about your customers/markets?

We see a lot of success wherever there’s a combination of a lot of data and the requirement to access it very quickly, over and over again, and so that ranges from AI and analytics workloads. For example, in Live Sciences, we do a lot of genomics, medical imaging and brain research, in the financial space, a lot of backtesting of algorithms in terms of going over trade data and understanding how new algorithms need to trade going forward. Just as an example on that, if a hedge fund before could backtest on one week’s worth of data or two weeks’ worth, because that’s what they could fit on that top tier that they had before, now they can do the entirety of their history 10 years back, 15 years back. And instead of taking four or five hours in an overnight batch process where the quants need to come in the morning and see what the results are, if it’s good or not, now they can do it in minutes, and so it becomes interactive. In a completely different space, there is great opportunity in media and entertainment. For example, a large animation company told us that they could not have developed their latest movie without VAST, and they showed us movements in hair and shadows, and they said, “Our animators have been asking for these types of abilities for years now and we couldn’t give it to them because of an infrastructure bottleneck. Now that we have infinite access to all of the information, they can do whatever they want”.

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