Ash Ashutosh - Transforming the Storage industry to Address Data Deluge

CIO Vendor Back in 2009, IT landscape was changing rapidly with the emergence of virtualization and cloud technologies, but the storage market driven by data deluge remained stuck in the old paradigm. The demand for storage capacity and data deluge threw surfeit of opportunities to various big as well as emerging industry players. Ash Ashutosh, CEO and Founder at Actifio reacted strongly to the opportunity, went ahead with a goal to revolutionize the storage market, and founded Actifio in the middle of 2009. In a time when cloud and virtualization technologies were witnessing tremendous growth, Ashutosh realized the enormity of the data storage problem and created and delivered a new data cloud offering under a new market category called “Copy Data Virtualization”.

Remembering the Entrepreneurial Journey
Ashutosh’s entrepreneurial journey has been marked by several notable events starting from the founding of Serano Systems to the inception of Actifio. After working at NCR/AT&T, Ashutosh founded his first company Serano Systems in 1997. The company developed Fibre Channel controller solutions for monitoring and managing storage systems. In 1999, Vitesse Semiconductor saw an opportunity to expand their market using the solution and successfully acquired the company.

Being a Venture Capital Investor, engineer, executive and holding experience of over 25 years in creating industry standards, building few of the first products in the market, Ashutosh also had a significant opportunity to be a storage user as a SVP at Storage Networks. Recounting about this experience as SVP, Ashutosh says, “Storage Networks was really the first Cloud storage provider, before the word “Cloud” was even applied to IT. Lessons learned as a user led me to found AppIQ in 2001, and in less than 3 years we became a market leader in Storage Resource Management market”. AppIQ partnered with all the major storage vendors; HP, Hitachi, LSI, Netapp, Sun Microsystems, Groupe Bull among others, and became the de-facto industry standard.

Observing the rapid growth of the overall market and their own sales of AppIQ solution, HP reached out to AppIQ to acquire the company in 2005. He became the Chief Technologist for HP’s worldwide storage division and was named one of the most influential people of the storage industry. He left HP in 2008 and after taking a 3 month break in India Ashutosh embarked on a new career experience as a venture capital investor as a partner at Greylock –one of the most successful and oldest venture capital firms. Observing the revolution underway in IT, he put together a investment thesis to transform the storage market which became Actifio. “Our team created a world record of not only transforming the storage market to a cloud-centric model but also creating a new market category called Copy Data Virtualization in less than 5 years since the inception!”, says Ashutosh.
The Success Quotient
Actifio’s success can be chalked down to Ashutosh’s persistence and focus on providing tangible value to its users. He makes sure that his company evolves in the direction of customers’ unique needs and requirements. Articulating about the company’s success quotient, he says, “Fast is the new big. As we get big, we need to stay fast and by following this adage we manage to stay competitive”.

Under his tutelage, Actifio has built entirely new software for IT organizations which address the data storage challenges by reducing storage infrastructure cost while enabling faster access to applications and allowing users to develop and deliver a private or public Cloud infrastructure. “The rapid growth in Data needed to be managed not by rapid spend on storage, but by smarter management”, adds Ashutosh. Transformation is never easy. Actifio’s initial challenge was to evangelize to the users the root cause of their storage issues.For over 30 years, users were used to using a collection of tools to address the consequences of the problem. As a CEO, Ashutosh is persistent in identifying the right problems and opportunities, and has even solved problems which its users did not know they had.

Ashutosh’s entrepreneurial journey has been marked by several notable events starting from the founding of Serano Systems to the inception of Actifio

The initial sale of the solution as a traditional software-only offering was challenging. The burden was on the users to install, configure and manage the software on hardware they had to buy separately. With the goal of making Actifio radically simple to use, Actifio pioneered the data management offering as a bundled appliance to address every hardware, software, storage and power needs. As an enabler, Ashutosh is singularly driven by the mission to keep the users delighted and deliver solutions that have huge value but are very simple to use; whether it is packaged as a appliance or as a service.

Scaling the Future
Hard work and perseverance of Ashutosh seems to have paid off with Actifio crossing the billion-dollar threshold when it raised its last $100 million. While protecting the entrepreneurial instincts and culture, Ash remains grateful to his team and growth opportunities of the competitive market. With undeterred focus on copy data virtualization/ copy operation, Ashutosh plans to take Actifio to the next level by allowing businesses to transition from the infrastructure-centric architectures of the 20th century to the cloud-centric models of the 21st. He inspires the organization to achieve growth, margin and predictability through its services. Under the leadership of Ashutosh, Actifio continues to bring the power of copy data virtualization to more segments of the market and soon will be seen rolling out its own virtual machine as a part of its cloud-based service.