Interview with Anthony Decristofaro, CEO, Qnext and Will Stewart, Founder/CEO, APV
Q: What is FileFlex and how is it different than traditional cloud solutions? (AD): FileFlex is different from public clouds such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive through its proprietary file access virtualization technology – which basically means no cloud is required, you can remotely access and share files from anywhere. Using file access virtualization technology, FileFlex abstracts files from their physical locations to enable remote access of files from their source locations. FileFlex is on one of the hottest segments of IT at the moment – Edge Computing. Gartner defines edge computing as solutions that simply optimize cloud computing systems by removing data processing from the cloud and performing it at the network edge, closer to the source of data. With FileFlex the location of the file stays at the edge of the network and can be on any storage device – a server, NAS, PC or cloud. You don’t need to build a private cloud or copy anything to a third party public cloud provider. Now you have a simple, user-friendly way to remotely access, share and stream 100% of your content, without having to move your content anywhere.
Q: Will, maybe you can share why you have invested in Qnext and where you see the company headed? (WS): Every Venture Capitalist knows the most significant unknown risk investing in technology trends is timing. It is always a question of market timing and the majority of investment loses occur from betting on market adoption happening sooner rather then later. There is no doubt that on a global basis Cloud adoption has completely transformed enterprise IT. Adoption rates have soared where today, according to Oracle, 95% of enterprises now use the cloud in some capacity. In addition, 89% of those enterprises use the public cloud for one or more deployments. However, the facts behind today’s cloud statistics demonstrate that while global cloud adoption is high, a relatively small percentage of workloads are deployed in the cloud. Over 80% of all workloads are still deployed on premises with a little less then 20% of workloads deployed in the cloud. Ask any F1000 CTO and the fact is customers need to manage workloads seamlessly between on-premise and the cloud. Customers have major issues and concerns with public clouds that simply can not be ignored such as data sovereignty, compliance, data control, and latency. These customer hurdles are very high and very real. FileFlex was built to address this 80% of all workloads and the company has done an excellent job listening to real customer concerns like data sovereignty and compliance. Arguably cloud adoption may have reached the early majority or peak of the bell curve – meaning new, better solutions, like FileFlex are emerging.
Q: Will, can you share your view on the progress at Qnext to date? (WS): Anthony and his team at Qnext have made tremendous progress both on the technology platform side with FileFlex but as well on the customer/business partner side. Not often in my venture career have I been fortunate to be involved with a seed capital based company that has already completed and shipped its platform (FileFlex), generating global revenues, and has already established incredible business partnerships. In that regard, the global strategic partnership with Intel speaks for itself. Every VC in the Silicon Valley knows it is a long and challenging process for a early stage portfolio company like Qnext securing a global business partnership with Intel but once established the mutual benefits are many. Intel has a global team of over 2,000 business development executives directed at introducing new Intel technologies to the world’s largest corporations, governments, public and private organizations. Qnext is now training these Intel business development executives (training video is available). Qnext is a global company already securing customers and business partners in AMER, APAC, Canada, Europe, and EMEA. This market penetration by an early stage company speaks to the knowledge and solid experience of the Qnext management team. This early global exposure has introduced many OEM and investment opportunities to Qnext which is perfect timing as the company is moving into its Series A financing which we hope to close by Q3 this year. Q. Anthony, is their any other clear differentiator that you feel we should know about. (AD): Well, as Will just mentioned our partnership with Intel – and the potential for silicon-to-silicon remote file sharing via Intel’s SGX technology and FileFlex really highlights that the need for security when sharing files in the cloud is reaching new levels. In Europe, GDPR, in the USA, The Cloud Act, HIPPA and a host of other, much tighter security and compliance regulations for cloud-based data are changing the face of the industry. Data residency or sovereignty has emerged as a key compliance issue. Data breaches due to file duplication and transfer have become a major issue. So the IT sector is ready for new Edge or cloudless solutions – and this is what FileFlex provides, and why we are bullish about demand for the product. Since FileFlex allows for remote access and sharing of files from their source locations, the files stay on-premise keeping them in-jurisdiction and data resident. No files are stored in the cloud or with third-parties. This addresses the privacy issues caused by the use of cloud storage, supports and reinforces data residency and aids compliance with privacy regulations such as GDPR.