Scality, the leader in software-defined storage for the information age: Jérôme Lecat – 10/13
Jerome Lecat, CEO of Scality, explains Scality’s mission and its business. Since its creation in 2009, the French-American company has become the leader in software-defined storage and helps business manage massive amounts of data. “Our customers have thousands of hard drives and servers, and our job is to ensure that the data is reliably and securely stored there,” Lecat says. – Good Morning Business of Tuesday, October 13, 2015, interviewed by Stéphane Soumier on BFM Business.
Stéphane Soumier: Jérôme Lecat is with us, the head of Scality. We’re going to talk about Scality of course, but I can’t resist asking you a question about what we were talking about. Michael Dell is 50 and you are 49 and you’re an entrepreneur at the heart of all these data management systems. One of Michael Dell’s messages is that at 50, you can start a new life.
Jérôme Lecat: Yes, sure. What he’s doing right now is very daring.
Stéphane Soumier: So, what is Scality? We know Scality, this is one of France’s success stories even though your firm is based in San Francisco. Do you still claim you’re French?
Jérôme Lecat: Yes, completely
Stéphane Soumier: This is one of the most extraordinary Tech success stories in France of the past few years. In 2008, you understood that, as a software developer, you had a lot to do in data processing.
Jérôme Lecat: We develop storage software. In fact, the world of storage is undergoing a revolution, and that’s the explanation of this acquisition. EMC had some difficulties to maintain its sales revenue and storage is undergoing a revolution. This is now a matter of software. That’s the conclusion we reached back in 2008. We founded the company in 2009 and since then we’ve seen a growth all the way.
Stéphane Soumier: Software allows you to make much faster searches and so there are now huge amounts of data which are now stored on these servers. And you need to go and get these data, is that it? You need to reprocess them.
Jérôme Lecat: In all the different parts of our lives, both our private and working lives, there’s a switch over to digital. We record everything; keep everything and you can search for everything we do which gives us a lot of benefits and this information must be stored.
The systems that were invented by EMC 20 or 25 years ago are becoming obsolete. Servers like those from Dell with software like that from Scality replace these systems.
Stéphane Soumier: What does your software allow us do? Go faster?
Jerome Lecat: The software allows you to distribute the data better, to have it available more quickly with higher performance and especially with much more reliability.
Stéphane Soumier: And behind all this, there is yet another layer. But Scality does not deal with this layer. It’s the processing of the data itself. It’s the refining.
Jérôme Lecat: The next layer after that is the big data. It’s being able to make analyses of these data. It’s “Deep learning” as Facebook and Google do. For Facebook, with a team of French engineers.
Stéphane Soumier: We also have a fantastic national success story with Talent, they are now based in the United States too
Dell and EMC are also two well-established companies that can manufacture the future of the digital industry
Jérôme Lecat: That’s the challenge. It reminds me of the HP / Compact or Alcatel/Lucent mergers. The IT industry is undergoing enormous shifts due to the Internet and the cloud technologies. Everything’s changing. Dell understood this a few years ago by delisting and becoming a private company. EMC understood the change in terms of products but found it hard to achieve. Dell bought EMC to try to make this change. Will they manage? That’s the big question. They’re going to have to face, firstly, players who sell Cloud services such as Amazon and secondly players like Scality, start-up with a growth of more than 100% a year and which bit by bit is nibbling the sales revenues of these large behemoths.
Stéphane Soumier: Can you explains us in more detail what’s your activity? I guess that among the investors who have been following you for some time, we can find IDinvest…
Jérôme Lecat: Absolutely, IDinvest, Iris Capital, the BPI and Omnes.
Stéphane Soumier: You must have been beaming when you saw the size of the check. Can we go into the details of what Scality does or is it immediately highly technical?
Jérôme Lecat: It’s quickly highly technical. We exploit mathematical models which in part were invented by INRIA and in part invented by MIT. There’s a lot of research and math behind Scality’s software. Our customers have thousands of hard drives. You need to imagine rows of servers lined up, hundreds of servers, thousands of hard drives. Our job and the job of our software is to make sure that the data are constantly distributed to all these disks, totally transparently, so that it’s extremely simple to use for the engineers. Basically, at the end of the day, it involves increasing the reliability of the storage, increasing its performance and cutting its cost, using industry-standard servers, whether these are HP, Dell or Cisco, or Super Micro or even from Taiwanese manufacturers.
Stéphane Soumier: You’ve talked about having to fetch a piece of data and each time, it’s energy, a huge amount of energy that is needed around these servers. If you can slice off just one millisecond at each time, that can represent savings that can become very significant.
Jérôme Lecat: It’s saving time and it’s especially directly saving energy. Today, our software is able to slow down the hard drives when they are not used. There’s a whole energy management system around our software.
Stéphane Soumier: 67 billion dollars
Jérôme Lecat: That’s a lot of money
Stéphane Soumier: I was looking at the figures produced by the firm IDC saying that the Cloud was a market worth $21 billion, of course growing by 20% a year… but a long way to go before reaching Michael Dell’s $67 billion. Don’t you think that he’s begun to inflate a new bubble?
Jérôme Lecat: No, I don’t think there’s a bubble. There are real sales revenues behind all this. What Dell has bought in part is relationship with the very large companies. Dell was very strong with the general public who no longer buys PCs but tablets instead. Dell was very good in the small and midcaps sector but they have bought Cloud computing. They no longer buy servers, they don’t need to. They go onto Amazon or Salesforce or Dropbox. Dell needed to buy a sales force able to speak to very large companies that will continue to buy computers, servers and software such as Scality. That’s what Dell is buying. That’s priceless.
Stéphane Soumier: What does this change for Scality. How important is this news?
Jérôme Lecat: It’s very interesting, because EMC is Scality’s main competitor and Dell is one of our main partners.
Stéphane Soumier: And yet you don’t seem concerned given your radiant smile of this morning!
Jérôme Lecat: Not at all because Dell doesn’t have in its portfolio an equivalent software as good as Scality’s. Our Dell partner is buying a sales force that will enable it to sell our software more effectively for these servers. For me, this is an excellent news.
Stéphane Soumier: I’ve been in this studio for ten years and for ten years people have been telling me that information is the oil of the 21st century. Michael Dell has just put a price on this oil, is that the idea?
Jérôme Lecat: Our motto is: “Whoever controls the information is the person who’s going to win in the 21st century”. Everything’s a question of controlling data and I think that for the companies of the CAC 40 and all those who are listening to us, there is a real challenge in France which is to change our production processes and integrate much more the value of data and the value of software into the strategic thinking of these large firms.
Stéphane Soumier: Jérôme Lecat, the head of Scality, thank you for all these explanations. You’ve shown you’re both an expert and an entrepreneur. I find that absolutely awesome