In this edition, we meet Greg Furmidge, Sales Director at ArcaStream, who provide software defined scale-out storage and data management solutions for research and simulation users.
What do ArcaStream do?
Research organisations are deploying growing numbers of ever increasing resolution scanners, microscope and sequencers – along with higher fidelity and scale simulations, that are creating a deluge of scientific data that they are tasked to analyze, store, share and preserve. ArcaStream provides high performance, data aware, software-defined storage and networking solutions specifically designed to support and accelerate the world’s most challenging research data workflows.
ArcaStream high performance storage combines flash, disk, tape, and cloud storage into a unified system that’s higher performing, limitless in scale and lower cost than traditional solutions. Data moves seamlessly through various tiers of storage – from fast flash to more cost-effective high capacity storage, all the way out to the cloud, depending on how frequently it needs to be accessed. This allows research organisations to store all of its valuable data more cost effectively. And besides seamless data tiering to the cloud, ArcaStream storage facilitates effortless, highly efficient “Cloudbursting” onto unlimited compute nodes when needed, minimizing data transfer and maximizing data locality between data stored on premises and cloud computing resources.
What’s more, ArcaStream tags that data with meaningful user-defined metadata, so it can be easily found and shared among collaborators – even years into the future. And speaking of sharing, ArcaStream technology allows organisations with multiple geographically distributed sites to share all the organisation’s data as if it were local – speeding global workflows. And all this is done with software defined, open standard hardware, with no vendor lock-in – providing research organisations tremendous economic advantage and purchasing power.
Finally, perhaps ArcaStream’s most important offering to research organisations is its unique unified services and support capabilities. We support our customers’ complete environment, from “disk to application” and provide them direct access to knowledgeable expertise, as opposed to the common “briar patch” experience many research organisations encounter when trying to resolve an issue with large vendors having spotty support expertise. Even regular maintenance tasks such as firmware and upgrades are handled by ArcaStream support, augmenting the customer’s technical staff, and alerts generated by the system are proactively investigated, escalated and resolved by ArcaStream support.
UK Company Location: We have three offices, with head office in Surrey which is where all the commercial administration is located. We have a sales office in Chesham and with R&D in South Yorkshire.
Global Company Locations: This year we have opened an office in Stuttgart, Germany and another in San Diego, US.
Number of Employees: 43 employees and growing.
Company Incorporation: ArcaStream itself was incorporated in 2013 and Pixit Media, which does visual effects, post production, broadcasting, etc. was incorporated in 2011. Both companies sit under the group holding company ArcaPix Holdings.
What are your key company capabilities?
Our capabilities are about helping companies spend their IT budgets more efficiently. We do this by using software tools and expertise skills to help design cost efficient storage solutions based on actual workflow needs rather than the vendor's requirements.
What are your technology areas of focus?
There are a number of core areas; Software Defined Storage, Data Analytics, Cloud and Workflow Integration. We have developed software that allows the end user’s application to seamlessly integrate with the storage. Typically research organisation users are not very IT focused, they are scientists and designers that use IT as a tool, so we have created a range of tools and applications whereby IT administrators don’t have to step in and can limit manual or admin type work.
What industry topics and themes are you seeing that are topical?
The big thing for us at the moment is around HSM (Hierarchical Storage Management) which is putting your data in the most appropriate place. What this means is you can buy the storage that you need for your workloads and retention. Some storage is very fast and expensive, you have a fast system because you have a lot of things happening, but when complete you want to move it to something slower and more cost effective. This especially applies if you want to keep your data for long periods. Our systems and tools enable this to happen seamlessly without any interaction from users, where data is moved automatically based on the policy set up. For example, if data hasn't been touched for a year, it get moves onto a tape which is relatively cheap, high capacity and very slow.
Data Management is another key theme, and being able to locate data. Relying on where someone has saved something can be hard to find, so we are doing a lot of work on metadata extraction and its capabilities. If you are looking for data created five years ago and it is sat on a tape, you can look for all the work done by ‘User A’ or by a certain machine. Rather than looking for the data itself, looking for the metadata, you can find it very quickly.
What challenges are you helping organisations to address?
In the marketplace the challenge is change and change to methodologies. Organisations and people develop workarounds and interim processes to address problems with data management. We want to educate the marketplace that although addressing the challenges of cost effectively managing data may appear hard, it can be achieved with the right partner. This is what ArcaStream specialises in and has developed tools and systems for.
A fundamental benefit of our solution is that there is no vendor lock in. You can buy branded storage and be tied to an agreement and a vendor but under ArcaStream, we can actually integrated any brand of storage into our platform, creating a vendor agnostic position for the customer. You remove the requirement to keep buying the same expensive storage.
Who are your key customers and partners?
We’re a growing company, and our key and strategic partners include IBM, NetApp, Dell, HPE, Excellero, and Mellanox. Our customers include NASA, University of Edinburgh, University of Bristol, and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) to name but a few.
What is your company vision?
As an organisation, we are focused on helping customers to put their data in the most appropriate place and to spend their storage budget more efficiently. We always say it's up to the customer what they do with their data, but having more capability with your storage for less cost is the goal.
What type of organisations are you interested in engaging with?
All organisations have challenges in managing data, and we would like to talk to organisations where data management is a problem. Budgets are getting smaller but requirements are consistent and the amount of data being generated is increasing significantly.