Board Independent Director
Margie Evashenk brings three decades of business, engineering, and Board-level experience in the storage industry to Nyriad. Evashenk co-founded storage semiconductor start-up Sierra Logic, was Senior Vice President and Chief Development Executive of Emulex, and CEO and a Director of Kazan Networks, an early-stage storage company.
How did you learn about Nyriad?
I’ve known Derek [Derek Dicker, Nyriad’s CEO] for seven years. We’ve served together on start-up advisory boards, and our paths have crossed in other ways over the years because we both have extensive experience in the storage and semiconductor industries. I first became aware of Nyriad when Derek was considering joining the Board. After he became CEO, he was able to tell me a lot more about the company, and I really liked what I heard.
What did you find most interesting about Nyriad?
I’m a technologist at heart, so I found several things really thought-provoking about Nyriad’s technology. The first thing is the use of GPUs and, more specifically, how they are being used in the Nyriad storage architecture. That is interesting and unique.
The second thing is that the company can achieve very high levels of data protection without RAID or data replication. I’ve been in this industry a long time, and RAID has always been the de facto standard for how you protect data in an enterprise environment. It was just how you did things. So, to learn that Nyriad has equivalent and even higher levels of data protection than RAID, and allows better utilization of the underlying storage was fascinating to me.
The third thing is the use of hard drives instead of SSDs. That SSDs were going to take over the world was just another thing that is taken for granted in the storage industry. Learning that Nyriad is able to achieve such high levels of performance with hard drives was another revelation and especially important for the target market segments the company is pursuing.
A fourth is the use of industry-standard hardware, which gives them the ability to pick and choose industry-standard components. This is such an advantage, especially now with all the supply chain issues we’re experiencing.
Do you think the industry has been looking for an alternative to RAID? Has that shift in thinking happened yet?
The shift away from RAID has already occurred in the big data centers. They’ve moved on from RAID and are now using data replication. Disk drives are very cheap, and they’ve been able to create a lot of algorithms to handle data integrity and protection in the architectures they’ve built. It’s not a very efficient use of storage, but it has served their purpose. So big data centers were the first to say RAID is not what we want.
But there are lots of other environments that don’t have the ability to just replicate data. They are still relying on RAID and working around its limitations. One thing to keep in mind about the storage industry is that because data protection is such a huge issue, it moves very slowly. I imagine that when organizations learn there is a cost-effective alternative to deliver high performance, there will be a groundswell of interest.
For Nyriad’s target market segments, how do you think Nyriad’s technology translates into business value?
In several ways, starting with performance. Nyriad can achieve 2x to 3x performance compared to what its competitors can do. That’s a really big performance jump. Another is lower total cost of ownership and use of hard drives, which provide so much more capacity at less cost than alternatives. With Nyriad, your dollars per gigabyte is much, much lower. Also, the value of Nyriad really lies in the software, which gives the company a lot of flexibility to pursue new service delivery and business models depending on what customers want to do.
Based on your view of the future of storage, what kind of impact do you see Nyriad having on the storage industry?
Given that the Nyriad architecture is so revolutionary, I think the impact could be quite profound. Today, Nyriad is going against conventional wisdom… HDDs are on their way out… data protection has to be done with RAID. As Nyriad enters new markets with different needs, the company will be able to offer different storage types. But the base architecture alone has a lot of legs. As Nyriad becomes better known, I think there will be companies trying to emulate what the company is doing.
What kinds of contributions do you hope to make to Nyriad as a Board member?
Generally, being a Board member is all about governance. Eyes on, hands off is the baseline. On top of that, though, I have 35 years in the storage industry, including quite a lot of start-up experience both in my own start-ups and as an advisor. What I’ve learned from working with start-ups is how important it is to think about growth from the very beginning. Lots of start-ups put off doing certain things with the excuse that they’re too small. I believe start-ups need to think big, even when they’re small. That means putting in place the policies and practices in the very beginning that will help them grow. So, in addition to governance, my focus as a Board member is on helping Nyriad prepare to grow and scale.
Given your experience with start-ups, what do you think are some important things for start-ups to do to increase their chances of success?
I had an advisor in the very first start-up that I did who said something that has stuck with me for two and a half decades because it’s so true. He said, “More companies die from indigestion than starvation.” He was right. Focus is so critically important for a start-up, and it’s really easy to get de-focused by all the shiny new objects around you. Another place where start-ups get in trouble is taking on technical debt, cutting corners to get products out the door fast instead of balancing speed with quality. Companies always end up paying for that later. And finally, it’s about the team. Do you have the right people on the bus? In all three of these areas, I believe Nyriad is doing really well: staying focused, avoiding technical debt, and putting together the right team.