Encouraging a culture of technology innovation
Great R&D benefits the business and its customers
As a software and services business, constant invention is a way of life at Quadrotech. That’s precisely what you’d expect; according to Fortune.com, the healthcare and technology sectors account for over half of all business R&D spending. Both Microsoft and Google, for example, spend over 13 percent of revenue on R&D every year, and Google – or more properly now Alphabet – has always taken pride in its philosophy “to launch innovative products early and often, and then iterate rapidly to make those products even better.”
At Quadrotech we have a lot in common with that outlook. Research and testing are at the heart of our business, and the most recent example was the announcement of our ‘triple cloud’ solution to accelerate email migrations using Azure and Office 365. It’s an elegant and deceptively simple approach that combines fresh thinking with deep-seated technology know-how. Once the building blocks were in place it simply took imagination to orchestrate the components – and expertise to make it work. We’ll look more closely at it in a moment.
In an industry where innovation is the lifeblood, Quadrotech’s culture encourages everyone to contribute new ideas. We retain a pioneering culture about everything we do.
It’s not about what you spend, but how you think
In many public companies, research recently concluded that there is “no meaningful relationship between R&D spending and stock performance”. One reason seems to be that “…R&D managers/directors regard capital markets as biased towards short-termism.” In other words, the need to deliver shareholder quick wins in public companies can stifle genuine experimentation. This may even reflect the existence of silo cultures, where the boffins are kept locked away from real live customers.
It’s rather different for Quadrotech. We’re independent, privately-owned, and led by inquisitive technologists with inventive mindsets. They get a kick out of trying out new ideas, and that culture has spread top-down throughout the company, not just into the product development teams. In our kind of organization it’s difficult to divorce R&D budget from day-to-day operations, so we’re far more interested in looking at the number and type of innovations being thrown up than trying to define what does and doesn’t count as R&D.
Because we’ve been directly involved in helping some of the world’s largest and most complex organizations manage their migration programs, we’ve used every engagement as an opportunity to identify improvements in our methodology or product functionality. Our in-house Customer Experience Team works directly with end users and provides valuable feedback on what improvements those at the sharp end actually need.
The result is a constant stream of stable, reliable upgrades – like better-automated management of leavers, or the industry’s only 6-factor analysis to correctly reconcile mailbox users – as well as new products. Every few months you’ll see a new release of one of our core tools, or the introduction of enhancements like our Advanced Ingestion Protocol (AIP). From a small set of tools used for Exchange/Office PST migration and Enterprise Vault data management, the Quadrotech migration suite has evolved over 10 years to a point where we’ve become the only vendor with an integrated live mail, archive and PST migration solution capable of migrating between multiple platforms.
But much as we like continuous improvement and the odd quick win, at Quadrotech we aim to achieve a balance that lets slow-burning and unusual ideas flourish too.
‘Triple cloud’ and HOTS: revolutionary change for migration projects
The growth of interest in Microsoft Azure and Office 365 cloud services prompted a lightbulb moment about using these existing clouds in a new way to speed up migrations.
Migrating the email ecosystem to Office 365 can be a challenge for many organizations. Quadrotech solutions already de-risk and speed up the process, but even the most efficient WAN transfer protocols remain incompatible with file formats understood by Microsoft Exchange Online. Traditionally, that means a separate server has to re-process the information, increasing the volume of data in transit and consequently slowing migrations.
The ‘triple cloud’ migration approach we demonstrated recently uses Microsoft’s two clouds to do all the heavy lifting, with Quadrotech’s ArchiveShuttle.cloud orchestrating the entire process. We created a ‘highly-optimized transport system’ protocol (HOTS) that generates a WAN-optimized payload from the originating server. This is rapidly transmitted to Azure, where it is converted on the fly to AIP format for ingestion into Office 365.
The HOTS prototype is still at BETA stage, but it has been demonstrated to reduce data in transit by 55 percent (we’ll try to push that even further in the production version). It really is a revolutionary step change for organizations considering moving to Office 365, and it’s come about because we’ve given our people the breathing space to think laterally.
Balancing long-term and short-term perspectives
Marc Chason, formerly director of Motorola Labs, once wrote that “innovation should be managed with long-term perspectives with short-term deliverables and goals. The long-term perspective allows for experimentation and learning while the short-term deliverables communicate quick wins and momentum to carry through the long term.”
We’d agree wholeheartedly with that. We’d also highlight that both long-term and short-term aims always boil down ultimately to making things better for customers. Encouraging a culture of innovation, research and invention is the only way a company is ever going to achieve that.
Peter Kozak CEO, oversees the strategic direction of the Quadrotech Group and was one of the founding members of the buyout from GlassHouse. Previously he was the Head of Development at GlassHouse, where he initiated the development tools for email archive migration and was one of the main inventors of products such as ArchiveShuttle and EVnearSync. Peter has worked extensively with Enterprise Vault since its early releases in 2000.