Over three years into the role and Quantium IT director, Craig Taylor, says he hasn’t got comfortable - and that’s a good thing considering the state of flux and constant change in the IT industry. In particular, the data science and AI realm that Taylor lives and breathes.
“I’ve never truly felt like I have settled because the company is moving that fast every day. It’s a challenge and an opportunity every day. There’s so much excitement in this space - there’s so much to do. Everyone is looking for that next thing; we never get bored and we never get comfortable.
“Every day is a challenge and an opportunity. Technology has changed businesses and the old world of IT has changed immensely. My team and I are constantly challenged with a company that wants the latest, the greatest, the fastest - and they want everything yesterday.”
Taylor tells CIO Australia the company’s purpose is to “harness data to power breakthrough possibilities” for people and organisations. Its mission statement reads: The company combines the best of human and artificial intelligence to power possibilities for individuals, organisations and society.
Headquartered in Sydney, the global company has 800 employees with offices across Australia, in New Zealand, North America, South Africa and India.
Taylor says when expertly harnessed and strategically applied, data can be transformational. He says Quantium offers a 16-year track record of innovation in data science.
“Data is at the heart of what Quantium does. We work with a range of businesses in different industries to take their data and look at how they can use it for some meaningful insights.
“It might be around how we help target advertising in the media business; it could be in the retail and FMCG business, looking at how supermarkets could be a little more customer focused around what products to stock, when to put it on sale; or helping shopping centres with placement of businesses, what rent to charge," he says.
“Or it could be helping banks understand risk profiles of their customers. It’s quite a large area that we work in, but at the heart, we work with many businesses and with the data they have, looking at what insights we can draw from that data.”
Taylor says one of Quantium’s main challenges is to manage and protect big data since data is core to its business. The IT team recognised it needed to adopt a more modern solution in order to meet its growing demands.
In that vein, Quantium adopted the Cohesity DataPlatform and DataProtect on Cisco UCS servers in a bid to experience immediate transformation and operational efficiency.
Taylor says the company was able to consolidate backup on a single, unified data management solution. It needed to backup Quantium’s data, including workloads on SQL databases, network file shares, and all internal production systems.
“One of the main challenges was wrapping data up in a timely fashion,” in a fashion where his IT team, which numbers 50, could support the business in a disaster recovery event or in all other ways.
“Our data footprint was just growing so much that we had outgrown our previous solution and were getting quite challenged with how we could create a second tier data storage backup environment that would be capable of supporting the huge volume that we have in production.”
Taylor says Quantium recognised the industry was moving away from servers with heavy storage and compute to hyperconverged data management solutions.
No doubt, he says the company had outgrown its Unitrends solution for backups, and recurring issues were affecting performance and impacting disaster recovery efforts.
Many of the solutions out there are “messy and laborious,” so he’s pleased with the single, unified data management solution.
Taylor says the company has been able to free up 80 per cent of the time IT staff previously spent managing backup and recovery - empowering them to focus on other critical areas of the business.
Other tech initiatives on the boil, he says, involves using more cloud in order to shift more data.
“The Cohesity platform will now hold a very large amount of our internal data. So how can we now do analytics on that data?
“It’s now all housed in one platform. How can we use that platform to help us move to and from the cloud? So there are other initiatives now that are underway which previously had been on the back-burner because they were a little bit challenging to solve.”
He says he has multiple different teams working on multiple different data sets. “We now have all of this data stored in one location and so that opens avenues for how we can do some work on that data.”
Asked his thoughts on AI, Taylor acknowledges it’s “still a bit of a hype word.”
“Most companies are not ready for it. There’s a lot of misunderstanding around what AI actually is. But from our perspective, if you combine very smart data scientists with some great analysts, with some very heavy machine learning, that for us is as close as you get to AI.
“Where we are now is leaps and bounds ahead of where we were even two years ago. It’s because we’ve seen more and more adoption of hyper scale cloud and a lower cost of entry to machine learning and AI workloads.
“It will be very interesting to see what will happen in the next few years.”