Sergey Kandaurov of Flexify tells us how they help business-building cloud-agnostic solutions by simplifying migration and avoiding dependency on a single cloud storage provider.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sergey Kandaurov: My home is in Palawan in the Philippines (the best island in the world, according to some), where I moved a few years ago, long before COVID. The island was basically closed on Match 2020, sacrificing its tourism industry, with domestic flights banned and no one allowed to enter from the outside. We were lucky to return from a business trip just two days before it happened. This ban, combined with tensive contact tracing by local authorities and health protocols (masks, face shields, limited capacities, no cinemas, etc.), worked. We only had a few hundred cases for the while 1M island with 2 fatalities and currently only 3 active cases. So the health risk is not large.
Due to the travel ban, my ability to travel is very much limited now, and I keep working from home as I worked before COVID. However, due to much more people working or studying from home, including online classes for all kids, much more Internet is created, and the Internet becomes slow and less stable. But that’s basically the biggest issue personally for my family and me.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Flexify.
Sergey Kandaurov: I worked for Acronis, first in Russia than in the US headquarters, as a Director for Product Management responsible for most Acronis business products. When Sergei Belousov became a CEO, he decided to bring a management team from Parallels, and it was not compatible with my career plans. So I quit, moved to the Philippines, and about a year later founded Flexify.io together with two other co-founders that I know from the university.
How does Flexify innovate?
Sergey Kandaurov: We focus on object storage, the very new type of storage best suitable for the cloud’s nearly unlimited scalability. And we bring another new trend – multi-cloud. As with everything new, there are many challenges, and those challenges required innovative solutions. Most of the things propose at first get an “it’s impossible to do” response from the engineering, but later, with a little push, 90% of it turns out to be possible and mostly makes it up to the product. Among our inventions:
· The ability to distribute very large (billions of objects, petabytes of data) migrations between an unlimited number of engines in a stateless fashion.
· Multi-cloud storage proxy with S3-to-Azure and S3-to-Alibaba API translation on the fly, again, in a stateless fashion.
· No-downtime migrations via the combination of multi-cloud storage and advanced migration algorithms.
· Many more details in how specific parts are handled or implemented.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Sergey Kandaurov: Because we are an IT business, tangible limitations did not affect us much. We were not able to take part in some large offline events that affected our ability to promote our products and services, and it becomes much harder to find professionals in IT marketing due to much higher competition for their time. Most of our employees originally worked offline, so the pandemic did not affect our ability to work much. At the same time, the structure of the IT talent market changed a lot towards globalization, making it harder and more expensive to attract new talent.
But at Flexify, we prefer to see any change as an opportunity rather than a problem.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Sergey Kandaurov: We can’t grow as fast as we’d like.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Sergey Kandaurov: Due to our original focus on remote work, we used online conferencing tools before. At times it seemed challenging to be on some meeting via Zoom where most attendants are present in person. With the pandemic, online meetings became a norm – the rest of the world basically moved to where we already were and became much more natural.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Sergey Kandaurov: No.
Your final thoughts?
Sergey Kandaurov: Pandemic quarantine limitation is necessary to save lives. Some people see it as a hit on the economy (which it is), but I see it mostly as a change for off challenges and opportunities. Like with our technical innovations, people tend to invent better solutions when challenged, and the pandemic definitely creates a lot of challenges, especially for offline businesses in industries like tourism. At the same time, it creates opportunities, and flexibly and successful companies will ride on those opportunities creating better products and processes than before. Sometimes in a natural event, a field is cleaned, allowing new plants to grow. Similarly, the new and innovative business has much more opportunities now and will have even more when industries start to re-emerge after the pandemic than they had for decades. Everything that is in a crisis now, in a few months to a year, will become like object storage – emerging and full of opportunities.