SYNC Interview with Judge, #Cloud Guru Adam Stern, CEO of Infinitely Virtual


Adam Stern

Infinitely Virtual

Russ talks with Adam about the cloud, the next BIG thing in the cloud and Adam's take on entrepreneurship. Infinitely Virtual offers the widest array of products and services based on revolutionary hosted virtual dedicated server and cloud computing technologies.

Transcript of Interview

Russ: Good afternoon everybody. My name is Russ Fordyce from the Business Intelligence Group. And today I have Adam Stern on the phone with me from Infinitely Virtual. They are one of the top Cloud computing hosting companies in space. And I just want to say first of all, Adam thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a BIG awards judge. We've enjoyed having your commentary over the years and welcome to the BIG awards [inaudible 00:00:25].

Adam: It's been my pleasure.

Russ: So why don't we start just give us that kind of 50,000 foot view of what Infinitely Virtual does and so that people understand kind of where you're coming from.

Adam: Sure. Infinitely Virtual is an infrastructure services company. We built virtual dedicated server hosting products long before anyone thought to call it Cloud, or infrastructures, or service, or SAS. So we've been in the market for quiet awhile. We've seen a lot of changes obviously. And now we're in the market with a leading product from the perspective of performance, and security, and data integrity. So we're really excited to be in the forefront of the Cloud space at the moment.

Russ: So when you say Cloud and when I say Cloud we kind of know maybe what we're talking about. You guys are definitely coming B2B space.

Adam: Right.

Russ: You guys offer a whole host of products, including kind of the basic packages of servers and data centers and all that stuff. But you have a couple of unique things in your portfolio that I was looking at. Specifically around the hosted apps. Why don't you tell us a little bit about that? How you came into that market?

Adam: You know I cut my teeth in a small and medium enterprise market place. And my customers all through the 90's and early 2000's was the typical business from say five to 50 users. So when we decided to build a hosting environment we thought that we'd build it around the idea that you didn't have to be a large enterprise customer to take advantage of virtualization.

As I said we did this early in 2006. You know no one in the media was talking about this capability. But as vienmore became popular in the enterprise market and as we were building enterprise environments for construction and large industry, we realized that really the product had a perfect position in the small medium business. It just took someone to build it.

So when we did that the thought behind it was well what would the average small business owner need to get his applications in the Cloud without the need of an IT professional to do it for him? So we built hosting plans around the idea if you had typical windows applications and you wanted to get it to your users what was the mechanics behind it and could we package it in such a way that the customer didn't have to do much. And so we came out with our virtual terminal server offerings. And the idea behind them too was that our customers were not very technical but they had a very technical needs. So we went about creating something that addressed them very quickly and it took off like crazy. I mean right away it became clear that that was our product. And we've been selling that style system over and over again since 2007.

Russ: I know you've got the virtual terminal server for accountants, and I think that's the QuickBooks package. So what other markets have you kind of broached into with that kind of packaging?

Adam: So right now we're very strong in the accounting, the payroll space, the HIPAA space, the services space. And what's happened is there a number of products that are install-able windows products that are superior to their web counter parts. And we give them a home in the Cloud. So pretty much any vertical you can think of we host software for.

For instances there's a product call Smart Services that helps people with, you know if you're a small UPS delivery service or you're a pool service and you want your trucks to be able to roll to customer sites, track their location, have your onsite people putting their notes in on an account. That type of scenario. This software allows these customers to interact with a large mobile fleet and it all requires a central server running a windows style service. We give application providers a home to get their products into the Cloud if they can't build a web based platform that does the equivalent.

Russ: Oh that's very interesting and as you guys go out into the market place you're obviously finding those accountants with that kind of special need. It looks like some of those packages that you have actually support multiple sessions at the same time so you can have a single app or a single instance of the app and have your entire team kind of pile into that. Is that kind of the way it's working?

Adam: Yeah the way the technology works is that you'll have a single virtual machine running a Windows 2012 R2 operating system and a feature of the operating system turned on called terminal server. And using that technology, which is part of the Window's suite, people can share an application installed on that one computer across all of their users.

Now we've built systems for five users and we've built systems for 10,000 users. So the architecture obviously changes as that grows. So a typical small accountant office might have a single terminal server with five to 50 users but we also have lets say a series of pharmacy's and they have 15 terminal servers load balanced. So it's a technology that we can build and scale to meet the requirements of an organization. But the way it typically works is that all the users login to one or more of these terminal servers, they operate the application there, and then there's a database or application or file server that they're saving data too that's shared across their environment.

It takes the large enterprise capability and allows us to package it for any size organization.

Russ: So it's interesting cause you've kind of honed in on something that I think is big in the industry right now, which is you've got this big shift into the web based app. Everybody's moving to these web based apps that maybe aren't as rich or as powerful as the desktop counterparts. And you'd immediately think oh I need to buy a server and put it in my closet. What are the real advantages of doing it the way that you're describing? Kind of doing it in the Cloud.

Adam: So I think you brought it up. The idea is that if you have a favorite product that you want to use but you don't want to buy, maintain, and pay for your own infrastructure. You get the best of both worlds in our environment. Many of our competitors don't believe in letting you have access to your virtual machines. And we have the complete opposite idea. Every customer gets administrative access to their server so they have the flexibility of having their own equipment without having to go through the process of buying and maintaining it. And then over time as technology changes they don't have to continue to make investments in their technology, we do that for them.

For instance we're about to buy some very exciting all flash storage, industry leading stuff. Sub millisecond storage that almost nobody has because of the price point. But we're gonna be bringing it into our environment free of charge for our customers. They're all gonna get a huge boost in disk performance just because we thought it's time to get into. Because we found a revolutionary all flash product and your typical business owner is not gonna want to make those types of investments just whenever the technology changes. They really want to get the life out of their equipment that they purchased, maybe three to five years.

For us it's a little different. We want our environment to be the richest, fastest, most secure environment in the world. And we make the investments to do so. And so the typical small medium business gets the benefit of that without paying for it.

Russ: Yeah its the democratization of all of this, right?

Adam: Absolutely.

Russ: Now you mentioned a couple of trends in there. We added a couple of new award categories this year, IOT being a big. Cloud security, Cloud storage, those types of things. There's been a lot of revolution in the storage business. In the last few years.

So you mentioned these kind of more technical terms with the one millisecond. So tell us what that means to an average customer.

Adam: Right so as you're putting more and more of these applications in a hosted environment disk performance becomes a real bottle neck for your applications. To try to make it understandable, if you're opening or saving a document to your own computer you're the only one using the hard drives in your computer. And so you don't wait very long for those things to occur. In the hosted space we're typically deploying storage area networks, a more technical term, storage that used across thousands upon thousands of servers. In some cases, like in our environment there might be 40 or 50,000 servers saving or operating on one or more storage area networks.

When that equipment isn't fast enough to handle that load the user feels that. He feels it the delay it takes for him to open and save documents, to open and start a new sessions. So in order to make their applications snappier, to make it so it's more real time having [inaudible 00:10:06] storage is important. Now when we started our business we bought best in class storage. We'd always been a net app shop and so we've always had a lot of disks, some very fast disks in our environment. But something changed in the industry and people started buying all flash storage. We did a lot of testing with the equipment early on and there are really great players that came to market, but we weren't prepared to jump into this early technology where we might sacrifice up time with performance. Also with the number of spindles we have we weren't seeing a revolutionary increase in performance of all flash versus what we already have. So we kind of pushed the pause button.

And now some products come to market that don't just give you a little bit of an extra performance but really changed the dynamic of storage. I don't want to talk about products yet because we're not announcing yet. But we're about to do something really exciting, and we didn't build it, we didn't make it. But we're gonna buy it and we're gonna make it the standard for hosting.

Russ: It sounds exciting, we want to know about it when you come out with it. So keep us abreast of it. It sounds very interesting. So you mentioned kind of that Cloud storage being a big kind of almost coming to market now, it sounds like. It's been kind of this hype cycle. If you've ever seen Gartner's hype cycle you have this big hype coming up and then it kind of cools off but it really gets implemented it. It sounds like storage is there or getting there now. What do you see on the horizon that you're looking at going wow that's really gonna be kind of the next big Cloud trend?

Adam: So containerization of applications really is where the industry is going. And it's been going there for a long time but there's been a lot of stumbling along the way. Viamor's had a product and now there's some new containerization products out there that really might just redefine how you deploy applications.

Without mentioning names, we talked earlier about how we deploy an application using what's called a presentation, or a terminal server environment, [inaudible 00:12:22]. But this is the way that we've deployed applications for a very long time in computing in general not just in the Cloud. But what they're doing now is they're making it so you can place an application not just on a server but in it's own container and then basically replicate it over and over again for all your users. And it becomes so much more scalable because remember we talked about there's a number of people on the same operating system all working at the same time. Well if we can eliminate the operating system all together and have the application operate in a faux operating system environment, in a fake operating system environment, one application per operating system, you eliminate so many bottle necks.

And so it's a very exciting thing that isn't quite ready for the typical small medium business or the enterprise user. I think it finds a lot more traction in the kind of the web space. But it's gonna come very soon where we're gonna be able to deploy any application, any desktop application you can think of in it's own container with no restraints on RAM, CPU, and disk. And scalable to the unlimited and it's probably what is really gonna redefine the Cloud for business.

Russ: Very interesting. So obviously you got a lot of kind of momentum in that space, especially in the accounting world. You've seen it first hand. I can only imagine that it makes your life easier, it makes their life faster. What else on that horizon that your customers are really asking you for that just isn't ready to be delivered yet?

Adam: I can't think of anything beyond what we've talked about but what I will say is that one of the very first and most important questions people had about the Cloud is security. And it continues to be the real hot button for people either getting into the Cloud or in the Cloud and then they go well wait a second are we still secure? And these things happen because you hear about security breaches all the time. There are some very major players that have had them. So as the Cloud matures I think this discussion of security continues to mature as well.

I am noticing my customers are getting more sophisticated. When we started in 2006 people didn't really even know what questions to ask, they just knew they didn't want to buy equipment anymore. Now all of a sudden they ask very very penetrating questions. And it's good actually, I prefer to have my sales people answering these questions because it puts us in the correct light. It puts in the position of being able to explain to them how we deliver a very secure product.

A matter of fact we're on Skyhigh Networks list of enterprise ready hoster's and that's because we have industry leading security. But the reality is that security is an ever changing, ever evolving thing. So we keep moving forward to make our system more and more secure.

Russ: Oh that's good. I know that security has been a big concern. You're an entrepreneurial guy, shift a little bit to your personal life. You dropped out of college I read, you went back to get your degree. What would you tell a budding entrepreneur, what advice would you give them? Somebody coming out of college that's looking to start a business.

Adam: So I have friends who are in this position and I think sometimes they're...I keep hearing people say I wanna be in a start up. Everyone wants to be in a start up, TV doesn't help on this front. But I would say instead of looking to be in a startup start looking to solve problems. Anyone can try to build a business out of nothing and fail but if you can really look for problems and solve them you're gonna have a product people what. And that's what I did.

I came from the small medium business base and I looked at what my customers struggled with. And I looked for a way to make it better. And I was one of the first to do it but the reason wasn't that I was, I wasn't progressing I just looked at what other people were doing and thought god wouldn't it be great if they didn't have to do that? If they didn't have to buy equipment every three years? If they didn't have to pay a guy like me umpteen thousands of dollars to reinstall the same software over and over and over again. So by looking at that problem I tried to figure out a way to do it better. And if these guys coming out of school would, instead of having this pie in the sky idea that they're gonna be a billionaire, you know this only happens to a very small number of people in the world. It's like trying to be on the Lakers.

Try to solve problems. And you know maybe you will be a billionaire or just a millionaire or maybe you'll just be able to take care of your family. But the idea that you're helping your customers solve their problems is I think the important question.

Russ: I think that's great advice, I really do.

Well Adam I appreciate you taking the time to be with us. It's really an honor to finally you know get to thank you in person for all your help throughout the years with our programs and we're looking forward to you judging the Stratus Awards coming up.

Adam: Will do, I'm excited.

Russ: Thank you again Adam.