Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
SwiftStack Hybrid Cloud Storage for the Enterprise Recognized by the Geospatial Intelligence Industry
August 15th, 2017 by Susan Smith
SwiftStack’s VP of Marketing, Mario Blandini, elaborated on his video interview with GISCafe CEO and president Sanjay Gangal this week for GISCafe Voice , about the company’s entry into the geospatial market with their hybrid cloud storage technology.
SwiftStack offers enterprise hybrid cloud storage in your own environment that existing applications can access and consume using file services, with cloud native applications using object APIs. The SwiftStack can manage all storage resources as a SaaS application or run privately behind your firewall.
“We are free market economists in the sense in that we’re successful when customers consume,” Blandini explained. “We set out to provide a technology service that would be used by cloud service providers or big SaaS companies, and it wasn’t geospatially oriented. We founded this company circa 2013. At that time, there was a beginning of the initiative called OpenStack. Most GIS people could care less, but the IT guys in the GIS organization would care because they would think of it as a free software framework, that allows you to have the same tools as the biggest IT companies in the world for free. The tools allow you to operate the way Amazon operates. Amazon puts lots of processors on a problem, intelligence for similar types of applications where you have a very large dataset and find some very specific information in that very large dataset. Intelligence is about finding the one thing that’s out of place that indicates something’s wrong. So that analysis of a LiDAR image doesn’t look a whole lot different than a human genome sequence, in terms of its data and in terms of technology.”
SwiftStack built this technology with the web and SaaS industry in mind, and it turned out that specialty disciplines like media and entertainment, science and research and spatial intelligence were interested in the technology. Media and entertainment distributed transcoding of information, and these large image centric applications have a lot of data but have no way to manage it.
SwiftStack has cluster nodes that can exist in multiple geographic regions to protect and location-optimize data.
“It’s relevant in that these tools were made to do intelligence, but the tools were made to solve some of the biggest IT challenges in the marketplace and that’s how we solve intelligence problems — we use technology analysis,” said Blandini.
Oddly enough, Blandini said they didn’t find the geospatial intelligence community, the community found SwiftStack.
“The science from the IT perspective that goes into these geospatial intelligence systems has a lot of the same roots in research academia that other research disciplines have,” said Blandini. “In that regard once something becomes commonplace, a lot of what we were working on was in the Open Source community and Open Source is typically not what government organizations like. They like predictable, supported services, and they want to make sure bugs are worked out before using it. On the other hand, motion graphics artists are not saving lives, they’re creating videos on the internet. Their appetite for new technology is much greater vs. the more serious business of GIS.”
Another reason the SwiftStack approach appeals to the geospatial community is because it is operating behind a firewall and is secure.
Agencies that have big datasets, use them in a more rigorous way in intelligence than a commercial enterprise would.
“In the Intel community, the demand from these agencies has helped us develop a relationship with Cisco Systems,” said Blandini. “They sell network equipment and core customers actually procure our product from Cisco because they offer it or resell it along with bundled solutions. They sell the servers with the private cloud to get this stuff up and running. Government organizations are paying the extra to pay what it takes to do it right. We see them getting the software and services. We’re a 60-person company. Cisco has so many employees and can provide first line and second line tech support, as well as professional services for technology. It means that private companies don’t necessarily need to transact directly with the government, they can interact with the government, but technology will still available because they already have existing contract vehicles with the larger companies like Cisco.”
Web and SaaS still is SwiftStack’s number one customer as that is where they started out. Geospatial is a big growth opportunity for them, currently around 10% of their business.
SwiftStack is downloaded from the internet for free and the company will support users as they use the product. There is no hardware so that analysts can download the software without help from the IT department. You must simulate in a virtual machine environment but that is common across any IT or analyst community. If you want to license the 100% production product, SwiftStack has a support mechanism in place for that involvement.