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Deep Dive: David Friend, Co-founder and CEO of Wasabi Technologies

Deep Dive: David Friend, Co-founder and CEO of Wasabi Technologies

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Wasabi Technologies is a hot cloud storage company that delivers reliable and efficient cloud storage solutions. David Friend tells Intelligent Data Centres how he landed his role and how he likes to relax and unwind outside the office…

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement in the data centre industry?

Our most notable achievement was being chosen as NTT’s global cloud storage partner. NTT is one of the largest corporations in the world and could have partnered with anyone for storage and it chose us. I will never forget the day we shook hands with NTT. There are many companies like NTT around the world that are trying to figure out how to compete with Amazon and the other hyperscalers. Offering cloud services like storage is a good start.  

What first made you think of a career in technology/data centres?

I’ve been interested in tech since early childhood. I was a science fair kid through and through. As for data centres, in my previous company, Carbonite, we used dozens of co-location data centres around the world. As I walked down the long aisles of these co-lo facilities, I realised that every cage had its own storage solution. It made me think that someday all the tenants would be able to buy storage from a third party, just like they buy space, electricity and bandwidth. 

What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?

Very open and congenial, but importantly every member of the management team has to be an A+ at playing their positions. We expect high performance. In the early stages of a company’s growth, I believe the whole management team needs to understand the big picture rather than just worrying about engineering, marketing, or whatever. As the company grows, functions naturally become more siloed.  

What do you think is the current hot talking point within the data centre space?

As more and more companies move their IT infrastructures to Amazon, Microsoft and Google, where will that leave data centres? I believe that data centres are going to have to be able to offer more value-added services such as storage and bare-metal compute, in order to survive. Data centres have to decide whether they want to simply be real estate companies or whether they want to become true technology partners.  

How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?

I rarely feel stressed, so I don’t feel an urgent need to ‘unwind’. Nevertheless, I run or bike every day for at least 40 minutes. I go to a lot of concerts, mostly classical music. My wife wants to buy me a large gerbil cage to run around in. I’m also very involved with the musical scene in Boston and have been on the boards of many orchestras, conservatories and music schools. I’m also a serious collector of minerals and crystals. I gave a mineral hall to the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale.  

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

The amount of data being generated is growing very quickly. Our biggest investments continue to be the capital equipment necessary to store all our users’ data. Clearly AI, genomics, facial recognition, surveillance in general and medical imaging are creating and using huge amounts of data.  

What are the region-specific challenges you encounter in your role?

Data sovereignty laws are proliferating around the world. This is forcing us to think about smaller data centres in smaller markets. In most countries, medical and financial data must be stored within the country, for example. 

What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?

We have moved from being a development company to a significant operating company in the last two years. My role has shifted from startup mode to operating mode, primarily lining up the financing to fund our torrid growth. And of course, strengthening our management team bench.  

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