All businesses have valuable data they want protected, and that is exactly what STORServer in Colorado Springs is all about.
“Data protection is the key,” said John Sorensen, vice president of finance and chief information officer.
Schools, hospitals, banks and other businesses generate data “that has real business value, and we want to protect that data from all kinds of losses,” Sorensen said. “It’s not about backup; it’s about protecting the data.”
Recently, the server in charge of creating paychecks for all of Ohio’s public schoolteachers failed shortly before payday, said Bill Smoldt, president and CEO of STORServer.
“By getting all that data back in a timely fashion using one of our appliances, they were able to get the paychecks out to the teachers on time,” said Smoldt, a computer scientist.
On the workbench last week sat the appliance to provide backup software for Ohio’s K-12 school system. The storage for the information is onsite in Ohio. This appliance runs the software for the backup.
The storage for that particular appliance holds 1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) bytes of storage.
“That’s a lot of zeros,” said Sorensen, an electrical engineer.
STORServer builds the machines, called appliances, that are used to protect valuable business data.
“Whether the customer is a school district, a regional bank, a hospital, medical clinics, billing company, anyone that has data that’s valuable to them and they’re concerned about possibly losing it, our appliance makes copies of that data,” Sorensen said. “If they had a hardware failure or a nefarious employee, or any kind of data loss, these copies of the data can be used to restore the data to the way it looked before the loss occurred.
“The goal is to get it all back as quickly as possible, because that’s where the business value is.”
Their product sales are as custom as their appliances.The appliances start at about $10,000, Sorensen said. One just sold to the University of Wisconsin Health Sciences Center was “well into the six figures.”
Sorensen said it’s easy to think of STORServer as analogous to a manufacturer of refrigerators. The business receives all the parts of the refrigerator appliance — the air compressor, the insulated walls, the glass shelves, the light bulb — and puts all the pieces together, he said.
The company wholesales its products to businesses across the country. Those businesses work directly with the customers.
“We have re-sellers who carry our product, along with other products,” Sorensen said. “When they have a customer that needs backup and disaster recovery and data protection, one of their offerings is our product.” Like General Electric, which builds refrigerators, but doesn’t have retail stores, he added.
“We make it simple enough that the person running the appliance doesn’t really have to understand the underlying technology,” Smoldt said. “They can run it as an appliance, like a toaster.”
A refrigerator isn’t a refrigerator to these men.
“We call it a food preservation and cooling appliance. We don’t refer to a furnace as a furnace; it is a home temperature constancy appliance,” Sorensen said.
When a customer buys a refrigerator, he or she doesn’t have to buy a compressor, metal for the walls, glass shelves and light bulbs, he said.
“You buy an appliance pre-built by the manufacturer,” Sorensen said. “We put it all together so that when it shows up, it starts protecting your data, like when you buy a refrigerator, you plug it in and put food in it.”
The company sends the appliance to the customer and helps install the software that accompanies the hardware.
Sorensen and Smoldt worked together at Digital.
In August 1994, Smoldt could foresee the company’s sale to Compaq, and he, Sorensen and others there decided to resign and start their own company.
“By January, we incorporated,” Smoldt said. “We mortgaged our houses and ate ramen for six months.”
Now, the company has close to $10 million in annual sales, he added.
They have customers throughout the United States and Canada.
Info: 485B Elkton Drive, 266-8777
Years in business: 19
Number of employees: 20