On InterSystems Technology Vision. Interview with Scott Gnau
“At some point, most companies come to the realization that the advanced technologies and innovation that allow them to improve business operations also generate increased amounts of data that existing legacy technology is unable to handle, resulting in the need for more new technology. It is a cyclical process that CIOs need to prepare for.” –Scott Gnau
InterSystems has appointed last month Scott Gnau to Head of their Data Platforms Business Unit. I have asked Scott a number of questions related to data management, what are his advices for Chief Information Officers, what is the positing of the InterSystems IRIS™ family of data platforms, and what is the technology vision ahead for the company’s Data Platforms business unit.
Q1. What are the main lessons you have learned in more than 20 years of experience in the data management space?
Scott Gnau: The data management space is a people-centric business, whether you are dealing with long-time customers or developers and architects. The formation of a trusted relationship can be the difference between a potential customer selecting one vendor’s technology which comes with the benefit of partnering for long term success, over a similar competitor’s technology.
Throughout my career, I have also learned how risky data management projects can be. They essentially ensure the security, cleanliness and accuracy of an organization’s data. They are then responsible for scaling data-centric applications, which helps inform important business decisions. Data management is a very competitive space which is only becoming more crowded.
Q2. What is your most important advice for Chief Information Officers?
Scott Gnau: At some point, most companies come to the realization that the advanced technologies and innovation that allow them to improve business operations also generate increased amounts of data that existing legacy technology is unable to handle, resulting in the need for more new technology. It is a cyclical process that CIOs need to prepare for.
Phenomena such as big data, the internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI) are driving the need for this modern data architecture and processing, and CIOs should plan accordingly. For the last 30 years, data was primarily created inside data centers or firewalls, was standardized, kept in a central location and managed. It was fixed and simple to process.
In today’s world, most data is created outside the firewall and outside of your control. The data management process is now reversed – instead of starting with business requirements, then sourcing data and building and adjusting applications, developers and organizations load the data first and reverse engineer the process. Now data is driving decisions around what is relevant and informing the applications that are built.
Q3. How do you position the InterSystems IRIS™ family of data platforms with respect to other similar products on the market?
Scott Gnau: The data management industry is crowded, but the InterSystems IRIS data platform is like nothing else on the market. It has a unique, solid architecture that attracts very enthusiastic customers and partners, and plays well in the new data paradigm. There is no requirement to have a schema to leverage InterSystems IRIS. It scales unlike any other product in the data management marketplace.
InterSystems IRIS has unique architectural differences that enable all functions to run in a highly optimized fashion, whether it be supporting thousands of concurrent requests, automatic and easy compression, or highly performant data access methods.
Q4. What is your strategy with respect to the Cloud?
Scott Gnau: InterSystems has a cloud-first mentality, and with the goal of easy provisioning and elasticity, we offer customers the choice for cloud deployments. We want to make the consumption model simple, so that it is frictionless to do business with us.
InterSystems IRIS users have the ability to deploy across any cloud, public or private. Inside the software it leverages the cloud infrastructure to take advantage of the new capabilities that are enabled because of cloud and containerized architectures.
Q5. What about Artificial Intelligence?
Scott Gnau: AI is the next killer app for the new data paradigm. With AI, data can tell you things you didn’t already know. While many of the mathematical models that AI is built on are on the older side, it is still true that the more data you feed them the more accurate they become (which fits well with the new paradigm of data). Generating value from AI also implies real time decisioning, so in addition to more data, more compute and edge processing will define success.
Q6. How do you plan to help the company’s customers to a new era of digital transformation?
Scott Gnau: My goal is to help make technology as easy to consume as possible, to ensure that it is highly dependable. I will continue to work in and around vertical industries that are easily replicable.
Q7. What customers are asking for is not always what customers really need. How do you manage this challenge?
Scott Gnau: Disruption in the digital world is at an all-time high, and for some, impending change is sometimes too hard to see before it is too late. I encourage customers to be ready to “rethink normal,” while putting them in the best position for any transitions and opportunities to come. At the same time, as trusted partners we also are a source of advice to our customers on mega trends.
Q8. What is your technology vision ahead for the company’s Data Platforms business unit?
Scott Gnau: InterSystems continues to look for ways to differentiate how our technology creates success for our customers. We judge our success on our customers’ successes. Our unique architecture and overall performance envelope plays very well into data centric applications across multiple industries including financial services, logistics and healthcare. With connected devices and the requirement for augmented transactions we play nicely into the future high value application space.
Q9. What do you expect from your new role at InterSystems?
Scott Gnau: I expect to have a lot of fun because there is an infinite supply of opportunity in the data management space due to the new data paradigm and the demand for new analytics. On top of that, InterSystems has many smart, passionate and loyal customers, partners and employees. As I mentioned up front, it’s about a combination of great tech AND great people that drives success. Our ability to invest in the future is extremely strong – we have all the key ingredients.
Scott Gnau joined InterSystems in 2019 as Vice President of Data Platforms, overseeing the development, management, and sales of the InterSystems IRIS™ family of data platforms. Gnau brings more than 20 years of experience in the data management space helping lead technology and data architecture initiatives for enterprise-level organizations. He joins InterSystems from HortonWorks, where he served as chief technology officer. Prior to Hortonworks, Gnau spent two decades at Teradata in increasingly senior roles, including serving as president of Teradata Labs. Gnau holds a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Drexel University.
– On AI, Big Data, Healthcare in China. Q&A with Luciano Brustia ODBMS.org, 8 APR, 2019.
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