Issue Nov Dec 16
With a legacy that extends back to CEO Nathan Thompson’s buying and reselling of computer equipment from his University of Colorado dorm room in 1979, Spectra Logic has become a company dedicated solely to storage innovation for nearly 40 years. Today, the company develops deep storage solutions that solve the problem of long-term storage for business and technology professionals dealing with exponential data growth.
Spectra Logic enables affordable, long-term data storage and access by creating new methods of managing information in all forms of deep storage, including archive, backup, cold storage, cloud and private cloud. Its exceptional product and customer focus has allowed the company to work with many of the largest information users in multiple vertical markets globally. Today the company has 450 employees worldwide, with its headquarters and manufacturing based in Boulder, Colo. The company does business in more than 50 countries.
“In the last few years, we’ve been working on systems that can help leverage workflow in different vertical markets and establish rules that can help users minimize the total cost of ownership for their data storage needs,” COO Steve van Engen says. “We are trying to develop systems that are scalable and can help customers manage their valuable asset of data and manage it in a cost effective way.”
Making its Mark
The many verticals where Spectra Logic has an extensive presence include media and entertainment, video surveillance, federal clients, high performance computing and cloud computing. All of those markets leverage Spectra Logic’s technology to enable their operations.
“They are all areas where we play and focus on executing,” van Engen says. “Many of our products cut across verticals and have different use cases depending on the needs of players. We can do some things with our technology that allows us to tailor solutions specifically to a customer in our verticals.”
Right now, the company is focused on software and its Spectra BlackPearl Deep Storage Gateway. A key solution for Spectra Logic, its BlackPearl family is a major product line that helps customers save tremendous resources.
“It is a disruptive technology that can supplant other software in the market that is more expensive,” van Engen says. “We can actually simplify the workflow for customers with our deep storage gateway, allowing them to succeed and lower operating costs.”
Spectra Logic has also been seeking to improve its manufacturing operations. Prior to joining Spectra Logic, van Engen’s background was in consumer products, medical devices and aerospace manufacturing and operational management. Since coming aboard the company in 2015, he has helped Spectra Logic find ways to raise its game with managing and enhancing quality systems as well as business management.
“We are working on improving our manufacturing capabilities on the shop floor, training and certifying people in our quality team, as well as being more disciplined with how we deploy quality management tools to reduce costs and analyze data and turn it into information that allows us to make better decisions, drive results and manufacture more cost effectively,” he says.
Additionally, the company is focused on developing tools to prioritize what it is working on and gaining alignment with a more formal product realization and development process. “It is all about being more intentional about what we are going after,” van Engen says. “This is very entrepreneurial and privately held company, and bringing some discipline to this kind of company helps us to be more intentional about what we are doing.”
Beyond that, the company has changed its approach toward vendor management. It has added some new resources in its quality group and paired them with its supply chain group so it can work together instead of having a siloed approach to supplier selection and management. By pairing those groups together, it allows the company to identify and communicate expectations better and partner with suppliers to let them know exactly what Spectra Logic needs.
“In some cases, we’ve had great success with suppliers indicating that it helps them to plan because we are being more specific about our needs and requirements,” van Engen says. “In other cases, we’ve seen suppliers recognize that they can’t meet our needs and there has been a mutual realization that the fit isn’t right and we’ve moved to a better fit. Ultimately, it has been a great partnership between our quality and purchasing teams.”
Spectra Logic has been staying on top of industry developments such as consolidation. That is a dynamic the company continues to monitor, adapting and modifying how it approaches the market as needed.
Additionally, the cloud has been a very disruptive technology in its industry. Spectra Logic is working on how it can embrace the cloud while tailoring its systems to leverage the cloud for customers.
“Many customers have seen mandates from their management to move to the cloud, and while moving data to cloud is cheap, moving massive data out of the cloud is costly and time consuming,” van Engen says. “Our focus is on leveraging our technology to allow customers to act on mandates to use the cloud while giving them tools they can use to do so intelligently and cost effectively.”
The major focus for Spectra Logic is to make sure that it can narrow down to the best ideas for any organization and any industry to be sure it is providing game changing and disruptive solutions. From there, it is all about executing flawlessly by managing projects in an intentional manner and properly communicating its priorities and enabling people to succeed.
“This is a competitive market,” van Engen says. “We are always continuing to stay in front of recruiting of top talent, in particular in the software engineering realm. Our ability to succeed hinges on making sure we keep a pipeline of top talent flowing in to our company, which is an attractive and compelling place to be.”