I had a very good conversation with new IceWEB CEO Rob Howe late last week about his mission for IWEB. He is a humble, no nonsense CEO and a Fox News fan to boot! After finishing our new research report on IceWEB, and listening to Rob describe his vision for the company, I penned a version of what I think you WON’T likely hear on his shareholder call at 12 noon EST....but I think fills in a lot of the back story to the opportunity at hand with IWEB.
My version is pretty in-the-weeds about their technology…but I know that NBT subscribers are a LOT more sophisticated than the average “Adventure Capital” investor…so this is my take on where IWEB is in the great PC-to-Cloud transformation food chain.
MY core message is that IWEB was really too far ahead off its core customers for a while IMHO…and then a little BEHIND as they finished their amazing ZFS based IceSTORM operating system (what is ZFS? Check out http://hub.opensolaris.org/bin/view/Community+Group+zfs/whatis). When you are a small company competing with giants, you usually don’t get a second chance.
Anyhoo….now that the server/storage virtualization revolution has caught UP to the non-Fortune 2000 IT world AND IWEB finished the core R&D work necessary to turn the open source ZFS file system into a EMC/NetApp killer, they DO have a second chance…and I expect to see thousands of customers added to the existing list of customers like Google/Cisco/VMWare etc.
Here’s my two cents for existing/prospective shareholders….
Dear IceWEB Shareholder’s and Prospective Shareholders,
I’m NOT the CEO of IceWEB, but if I WAS, here’s how I would tell our story, vision and future in a nutshell:
#1 Our history in one sentence--IceWEB raised and spent over $12M since the company’s founding to get the right formula to become low-cost/high spec provider of unified midrange storage in IT Land…and NOW we’ve got the goods.
#2 Why midrange unified storage? Well until the relatively recent rise of virtualized app servers and the cloud (aka as running and accessing applications from a data center vs. your PC or laptop) in IT Land, our technology was AHEAD of our customer…TOO far ahead of our customer the <Fortune 2000 IT department. NOW that app/storage server virtualization is here for EVERYONE (as you know of course) virtual app servers and storage is here and growing at 15%+ annual growth rates for the next 5 years at least…and faster in the late adoptor <Fortune 2000 IT world.
#3 Server virtualization or “virtualized machines” is a simple concept—Imagine you are on the freeway and there is an HOV lane…those cars in the HOV lane are servers…now look into the “cars” –do you see empty seats? Those empty seats in this metaphor are empty space on an application server or data storage server. ALL virtualization does is “fill the empty seats”—i.e. create “virtual app servers or storage servers” by filling the “empty seats” of the existing app and storage servers—assembling the empty space into “virtual” app servers and storage servers or VMs for short.
The benefits are enormous—just like if we could magically fill the empty seats in the HOV lane—or the entire freeway for that matter! Mass energy savings…LESS servers needed…faster traffic…you get the picture.
Well it turns out that as enterprises virtualize their servers; they are deploying tens of thousands of midrange storage arrays to host these “virtual machines”. And when you have important data, you have to back it up. The best way to back-up this VM data is with what is known as a “snapshot”—literally a snapshot of the data in the virtualized server. Guess what? Our IceWEB’s IceSTORM operating system is fantastically well suited to “take these snapshots” of VM data and therefore our midrange disk storage systems (“arrays’) are fast becoming THE predominant way that backups and recoveries are done in virtualized data environments…
Because of the massive improvements in system productivity and reduced energy consumption by doing computing in a data center vs. your PC (again…otherwise known as “Cloud” computing) the wave of “virtualized EVERYTHING” lead by pioneers VMWare (our partner), Citrix (our partner) and Microsoft (our partner) is sweeping the world…and IceWEB unified storage devices are in the sweet spot of the transformation. Our IceSTORM replication software—that enables these cloud based VM “snapshots” and their recovery in real time…it’s as good or better than what our Big Boy competitors like EMC or NetApp or IBM are selling—yet OUR complete storage/replication systems cost up to 90% LOWER.
THAT is our value proposition and defensible competitive edge…with IWEB you get ALL the latest cool specs at up to 90% LOWER cost…and it’s not just me who is telling you this.
Gartner Research…in their last report on midrange arrays shows our costs at 40 cents a gigabyte vs. competitors up to $3 a gigabyte.
Prestigious research outfit DCIG (which has a network of real IT users as its judges) named IceWeb the #1 Midrange Array Replication solution vs. 30 competing companies for 2012—we beat ALL the Big Boys aka HP, Dell, IBM, EMC, NetApp by a margin of 25-75%!
Why? #1 reason was that we include the license for our world class replication software FREE when you buy our midrange storage arrays—what a concept! Our competitors CHARGE a license fee for every box…that is just ONE of the reasons our customers love us…but it’s a BIG one.
There are a lot more reasons—but just remember this: As the IT world rapidly moves to a “virtual” IT world, the ONLY way to back-up VM data is with data “snapshots”—and IceWEB’s snapshot software IS the best way to back-up the world’s virtual machines...and it’s FREE. That is like buying a new car and getting the tires, air conditioning and steering wheel FREE…who wouldn’t want that deal?
In IT land it’s becoming a virtual machine world—and IWEB’s Best in Class midrange system is not only the best—it’s also the lowest cost/highest spec leader—That is the vision of IceWEB…give the market EMC/NetAPP type bells and whistles at a massively more affordable total cost of ownership.
Now our job it to go out and tell and sell our solutions to the virtual machines of the world!
Specifically the Virtualized IT environments of the <Fortune 2000 IT departments…we know our niche and will stay in our addressed market—it’s a $40 billion a year world growing at >10% a year as the world’s data storage needs DOUBLE every two years…again according to Gartner Research.
So what have we learned today?
#1 It’s fast becoming a Virtual Machine world in IT Land…and IceWEB’s midrange disk array systems and our newly released IceWEB STORM operating system is in the cost-to-performance sweet spot of this new private and public cloud-based virtual server world.
#2 We are about to become a 8 year overnight success…it’s been a long road for us to get to where we are today with the #1 rated midrange array system in the world. Our founder John Signorello tragically passed away in May—we are all 120% dedicated to making his vision change the world…and provide a financial legacy for his family and our very patient and understanding shareholders.
#3 MY Job as CEO…and that of our VERY dedicated team…is to convert ALL our visionary advantages into rapidly increasing market share gains and sales wins…all over North America and then internationally as the Virtual Machine wave moves abroad.
I have made some big changes in the first 30 days—and will continue to squeeze a nickel out of every marketing penny we have to gain new sales channels, new product launches, new customers and new sales representatives.
I’m glad you have joined us as a shareholder at our current valuation—because the ONLY way is up from here and new shareholders frankly get to ride on some very big shoulders provided by our early shareholders.
Tobin Smith…a one million shares shareholder
PS—here is the shareholder call link for 12 noon EST