Imation is Today’s ‘Bigger’ Data Provider for SMBs and SMEs; Interview with Imation Global Marketing Director Bill Schilling, Part I

In the technology industry start-ups seem to come out of the wood work on an almost daily basis. But what is rare is when an established veteran in the technology industry such as Imation decides to cultivate and incubate a start-up within the company to meet pent-up customer demands for technologies that can handle their growing ‘bigger data’, cloud computing and regulatory requirements. In the first part of this interview series with Imation’s Global Marketing Director Bill Schilling, we discuss Imation’s evolution over the past 12 – 18 months and how it has positioned itself to be the “Bigger Data” storage provider for small and midsized businesses and enterprises.

Jerome: Bill, thanks for joining me today. I know there are a lot of changes going on right now over at Imation and you personally have been instrumental in helping to execute on many of those changes. So to provide some context for DCIG’s readers, could you please first tell me a bit about yourself and your role at Imation.

schilling.JPGBill: I am the global marketing director for Imation’s storage business. That consists of a portfolio of storage media, storage appliances, and storage hardware. I guess you could say that I am a B2B marketing and storage technology geek. I have worked for Quantum, Seagate, Xiotech, and now Imation. In the past as a supplier I have worked with major brands like Apple, HP, IBM and Sun working with them to develop storage solutions. I have been with Imation in this position for about one year.

Jerome: So let’s get into the meat of why we are talking today. Imation has changed a lot in the last twelve to eighteen months in terms of the products and services it offers – really in terms of the overall company direction. Can you share what prompted Imation to make this change and how Imation should be viewed as a company going forward?

Bill:  If you look back as far back as 1995, Imation had this history of addressing backup and archive requirements for both small businesses and enterprises with storage media. Whether it is data center tape, LTL tape, Bluray optical media, or RDX (removable hard drive media,) Imation offers it.

We have been a storage media technology leader for some time focused on the small business and enterprise market. In the last year or so, Imation has seen a growing opportunity to leverage our media expertise, some of our technology partnerships, and our global distribution channel, to deliver purpose-built, file-based backup and archive appliances to the same market and to the same channel.

In 2011, we acquired a couple of small companies, giving us both product and technology assets. In the early part of 2012 Imation announced and launched a couple of new product lines. One was an acquired product line – InfiniVvault from ProStor – and the other one was DataGuard.

They are product lines that use multiple storage tiers, either online 7200 RPM SATA hard drives, near line RDX drives, removable RDX drives, or connectivity to the cloud to provide scalable multi-tiered backup and archive storage.

Today we are delivering these solutions and building momentum in terms of sales and channel and market adoption. The one thing that I tell folks as to how they should really view Imation storage is that we are really a storage startup, a well-funded storage startup inside of a larger corporation.

We feel like we have some unique file-based backup and archive storage solutions and a roadmap for those solutions. We are targeting SMB through the channel, we are channel partner driven, and we have resources worldwide.

Jerome: Bill, you mentioned you are targeting SMBs. One thing I constantly hear, write and talk about is “Big Data” but my sense is that SMBs are struggling with “bigger data” as opposed to “Big Data.” That is to say they have a lot more data than in the past but probably not in the hundreds or thousands of terabytes that large enterprises have to manage. So what is Imation seeing in its customer base in terms of the amount of data they have to manage and what forces are driving this data growth in their business?

Bill: The big data rhetoric and frenzy has really gripped media publications and online discussions. You just cannot really get away with not hearing about big data on a daily basis. And it is true that many businesses and enterprises believe they have or will shortly have a big data opportunity.

That is that they are going to be able to leverage all this data inside the company, surrounding the company, to capture, parse, analyze it, and turn it into content that creates competitive advantage and business value.

So we will see whether that indeed happens. But to your point, there is no question that we have entered into this era where data’s sheer volume coupled with its increasing variety and velocity is creating these unprecedented challenges to small business.

We are seeing that in our customer base. We have customers that are dealing with extreme growth in file based data. But they also have to deal with compliance requirements driven by industry or government regulations.

One current customer that comes to mind is a rather large municipality that is dealing with data growth across different departments, including growth within their police department where their cruisers, police cars, are now equipped with HD video cameras that stream video standard definition on an ongoing basis but switch over to HD video when they turn the siren on.

This switch thereby creates this growth of video content that on a daily basis needs to be uploaded to storage within the municipality and retained for some period of time. The same municipality also has to deal with court records. They have two challenges here: the sheer volume of court records and the associated retention requirements for these records.

So an interesting thing is happening in the market. In a way it is a perfect storm where we are seeing this extreme growth in data, but this heightened sensitivity and focus in ensuring that how the data is being stored and protected in such a way that it meets industry and government regulations.

In Part II of this interview series, we discuss how the Imation InfiniVault opens the door for more SMBs and SMEs to take on the task of data archiving while simultaneously enabling them to take out backups.

In Part III of this interview series, we take a look at the cost of
data in today’s Big Data environments and how the Imation InfiniVault
enables organizations to take a bite out of Big Data’s Big Costs.

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