Anthony DeCristofaro is president and CEO of Qnext Corp a Greater Toronto-based firm that has developed FileFlex, a hybrid point-to-point, software-only service based on Edge technology that allows remote access to, share, stream, manage and collaborate data from source locations without opening any new ports. Here DeCristofaro speaks to Red Herring about the future of the cloud, international scale and the impact of GDPR.
What is FileFlex and how is it different than traditional cloud solutions?
FileFlex is different from public clouds such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive through its proprietary file access virtualization technology. That 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 because FileFlex is a cloudless solution. 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.
Where do you see the company headed from here?
Everyone knows the most significant unknown risk investing in technology is timing. It is always a question of market timing and the majority of investment losses occur from betting on market adoption happening sooner rather than later. There is no doubt that on a global basis, cloud adoption has completely transformed enterprise IT. Adoption rates have soared to the point 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.
Yet 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 than 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 cannot 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, more secure solutions like FileFlex are emerging.
What is Qnext’s strategy moving deeper into 2018?
The team at Qnext has made tremendous progress both on the technology platform side with FileFlex and the customer/business partner side. We have already completed and shipped our FileFlex Enterprise platform. We are beginning to generate global revenues, and have already established incredible business partnerships. In that regard, our recent global strategic partnership with Intel speaks for itself. The Intel partnership give us access to 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.
We have already secured 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 other 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.
Is there any other clear differentiator that you feel we should know about?
Our key differentiator is that no cloud is required. Secondly, our relationship 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, HIPAA 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. This is what FileFlex provides, and it’s 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.
Q: According to a recent Forrester study, GDPR will have a radical impact on the entire enterprise, including cloud strategy. How does that affect Qnext’s model?
GDPR is actually the perfect storm for Qnext. We couldn’t ask for better timing, as the Forrester study concluded that GDPR has prompted a rise in the amount of data being moved out of the public cloud and back on-premise. We already feel the immediate impact of GDPR in our business globally as infrastructure and operational leaders are utilizing FileFlex to migrate workloads out of public cloud environments. We only see this trend moving more in favor of FileFlex as compliance regulations continue to change for GDPR.