An intelligent Kapiti-based Kiwi data storage startup is combining the reliable functionality of traditional storage technology, with modern cloud capabilities. And this, says Glen Olsen, founder of Nexustorage and creator of Nexfs, is what makes it truly unique.

Olsen knows that data isn’t the most interesting thing in the world. But he says the trick is to see the value behind it, and understanding how we can use it in more meaningful ways.

“We all need data and rely on it everyday – whether we recognise it or not. It’s an essential technology that is useful for plenty of reasons, and in many cases, data is an asset that can be worth a lot of money, when applied to the right situation.”

With a career in IT that’s spanned more than 30 years, Olsen established his business Nexustorage in 2001 with a blank piece of paper. But now his journey has reached a significant milestone, with the recent launch of Nexfs. It’s the first system of its kind that offers a storage product based on both the fundamentals of traditional protocols and the scalability of cloud storage.

“The way in which applications use data hasn’t really changed since the mainframe era of the 1960s. However the limitations of that is how much it can store. Then in the mid-2000s, along came cloud storage, which was supposed to be our saviour. Hugely scalable, it helped reduce costs and didn’t need to be backed up anymore,” explains Olsen.

“However the problem with that was many applications couldn’t access it – the new protocol resulted in performance issues. And for a time I worked for a company who tried to create technology to bridge that gap.

Glen Olsen, founder of Nexustorage.

“But the ‘fix’ was simply not going to work, there were too many differences between the two systems. I knew I’d have to build a storage product from the bottom up – with all the best features of those two systems,” Olsen says.

Version one of Nexfs was made public in August, and Olsen is immensely proud to put his hand up and say that he is sure Nexustorage is the first, in the world, to have successfully integrated these two usually separate operations – instead of simply trying to ‘bridge the gap’ in the technology.

And now it’s time to see this system applied to all kinds of businesses, from health, to law, and so many more.

“With the core product released, my focus is moving to adding value for our customers, and helping them to see the potential of their data,” says Olsen.

“For example, when someone gets a CT-Scan, there’s a huge amount of data that’s collected. Traditionally this goes to a specialist who looks at the scan for anomalies.

“But what artificial intelligence (AI) data could do is learn from specialists as to what an anomaly looks like, then go through the data and mark these scans and identify areas of potential interest. This would save medical professionals time, and also reduce the risk of human error.”

In the legal world, when a new case comes in, a paralegal has to spend a considerable amount of time looking through previous cases for relevant information. But according to Olsen, what Nexfs could do is examine all stored data and look for past cases which matched what the present case was about – speeding up what can be a laborious process.

What Olsen says is also beneficial about this new system is the ability to save storage costs for businesses, whereby they are able to take data and move it around to different providers depending on its use.

“From the front-end, the user is able to easily access the data they need, as soon as they want it. But on the back-end, we are moving it around various storage tiers to ensure it remains cost effective. It’s still available and security protected, but is kept on different servers depending on how often the data is retrieved and utilised.”

“Because I was based near Wellington, and my background in consulting government agencies, that was where I initially looked for a job. But having been out of the country for 18-odd years, I had to wait for five years before I was able to apply for anything at the required security clearance level,” explains Olsen.

“I needed to do something and this was a product I had been thinking about for a long time. I believed in it. And when I look back at my career, all my past ideas were for other people. So I thought it was time to follow through on one for myself, and do it my way.”

However, starting afresh wasn’t without its challenges, and Olsen found New Zealand to be a very different place when it came to connecting with others in the industry.

“I think it’s important that you’re introduced to someone here, you can’t just knock on doors.

“Of course it hadn’t been a focus of my marketing and branding for all of those years, so all my contacts were overseas. But now I see a huge opportunity in Australasia, where I would like to push forward and become better known in this region for what Nexustorage can offer.”

A promising early win for Olsen was being recognised as one of the 10 Hottest Data Storage Startups of 2022, according to CRN (a media brand of The Channel Company that covers IT news, analysis and insights).

And Olsen’s got plenty of motivation to keep him going, despite what he calls the ‘rollercoaster’ of being a startup.

“I’d lie if there weren’t times where I was on the verge of packing it in. But every time I got to the lowest point, something always happened to bring me back up. And the more that happened, the more I had belief in both the product and being able to deliver what I wanted to.”

Story by Erin Harrison

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