Cloud computing was definitely a hot subject in France and across Europe in 2012. From the debates around the relevance of Andromede and the response of the global cloud giants, to the EU’s prioritization of cloud computing and hope that it will be a substantive driver of economic growth across Europe, there’s been a lot of cloud news recently. In addition to covering these trends, we also looked to increase the visibility of France’s startups through our ongoing cloud startup series. Though it doesn’t get the focus it should, France’s cloud startup community is robust and holding its own in a pretty difficult environment. One of the biggest challenges faced by these startups figuring out how to create a compelling and competitive offer in a space that is still heavily dominated by the big global cloud providers. Companies like QualyCloud, are working to tackle that challenge head-on. Before the holidays, I caught up with their President, cofounder, and serial SaaS entrepreneur Jorge Tellez to learn a big more about QualyCloud and, specifically, what sets them apart from the rest.
How has QualyCloud evolved since its founding?
Initially the vision of QualyCloud centered around offering data quality solutions in the cloud. There are currently other companies, such as IBM’s Informatica, that offer these types of solutions, but they’re all too big to specialize and tend not to offer good solutions for smaller companies. We realized though that this focus was too specific so we decided to launch a broader platform that could manage the different levels of infrastructure and service required in a highly-secure cloud environment As there’s a lot of concern around data security, particularly in Europe where there’s a great deal of anxiety about the (US) Patriot Act, we felt that increasing our focus on security could offer an interesting and important opportunity for us.
What makes QualyCloud different?
We see companies in a more global way. Most of the companies that work within the cloud see the cloud as simply an IT issue; however, this is not correct. When a company puts its work and processes within cloud, that has a broader impact on the company, particularly in terms of social, legal, competitive, and environmental issues. We’ve also seen increasing concerns around ethical use of data, which tends to be more of a concern in France as well as concerns around the privacy of personal data, which tends to be more of a concern in the States. We’ve tried to propose a solution that can take all these concerns into account. Also, one key element of our solution that really sets it apart is the geo-location of the data that is stored in our cloud. By this I mean that we give the company the ability to know the physical location of their data (i.e. where it was created) and where that data is being accessed from. As a result of this functionality, our clients also have the ability to control the level of data access their employees have depending on their location.
Tell me a bit more about what you offer.
We offer a SaaS called Cloud Data Hub which is stored in a highly-secure, Tier 4 data center in Luxembourg (Tier 4 are data centers with the highest level of security and resiliency. As security is at the heart of our offer, we felt that it was important to be in the most secure facility we could find and, in Europe, those facilities tend to be in Luxembourg. That being said, our solution is also open and flexible, so it can be put into any data center and/or cloud. This is a real advantage for us because it allows us to also partner with other providers, platforms, etc.
Although were still ramping up our offer, one could say our aspiration is to be like a Dropbox but in a highly-secure environment with more functionality. So one of the main things we offer is a virtual elastic environment where users can create highly secure private and work spaces which they can access them from any device. We’re currently doing this for one of our clients, a hospital in Germany, were we enable doctors to access patient information in a secure in environment from their mobile device. In order for the doctor to access the information they, of course, need to enter a standard secure login. However, to make the access even more secure, we’ve recently added facial recognition functionality. As mentioned before, because we geolocalize the data, the hospital can know where the doctor is physically located when accessing the data and, if needed, can limit the doctor’s ability to access certain types of patient data once he or she physically leaves the hospital. Another service we offer gives customers the ability to set up a cloud-based virtual disaster management system. So, for example, if there’s a major disaster situation where the hospital needs to quickly respond, such as a large flood or flu epidemic, we can create the environment required to set up a temporary virtual call center/help desk, hotline, and CRM. We’ve designed these solutions in such a way where they can be deployed almost instantaneously (via download from our site). Our ultimate goal is to offer our customers a solution that allows them to be completely mobile and virtual in a secured way.
Who are your main customers at the moment?
We’re working quite a bit with hospitals and insurance companies which have been our initial targets, mainly because they have a high-level of concern around security and an increasing need to access information remotely. However, we do have customers in other industries and know that our solution can be applied across any sectors, including government where with initiatives like open data, we see a real opportunity for the types of services we offer.
So you have clients in Germany and France. What about other markets in Europe or beyond?
From the beginning, we focused on developing a European-wide business as we felt it wouldn’t make much sense to just stay in France, especially now (given the current economic climate). So, at the moment, we have customers in Germany, France, Spain and Luxembourg. But, as we are and will continue to be a European company, we’re definitely expect to expand to other European markets (at the very least).