Arcitecta is very different from just about any company you run across in IT. It's privately held and profitable with no need or desire to take on outside investment. It has no dedicated sales reps. This unique (to IT at least) business model has allowed Arcitecta to focus and take the time and resources to achieve greatness in solving data management problems where others have failed.
Bucking the Trend with First Principles
A few years ago, I was stunned by how fast my company’s engineers developed a new capability for the product I was responsible for. I had left engineering decades earlier and hadn’t realised just how pervasive the “copy and paste” culture from Stack Overflow or GIT had become in software engineering. It was great that we were able to get a capability integrated into the product so quickly, but the product didn’t scale to our customers’ requirements – and our engineers didn’t know how to scale the product other than looking for other examples to copy – and it ultimately failed.
In contrast, Arcitecta is a "First Principles" company. There is no copy and pasting at Arcitecta. First principles thinking is a concept that has been around for centuries, first popularised by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. It involves breaking down complex problems and issues into their most basic components and reasoning from there, rather than relying on preconceived notions or generalisations. In recent years, the term has been adopted in the business world to describe a specific approach to decision-making and problem-solving that emphasises the use of first principles thinking. Arcitecta embraces this philosophy as a core part of its culture and operations. Let me give you a couple of examples of how important this has been to us and our customers, and how it severely limits others trying to solve the same problems.
Scale, Scale, Scale
One of the primary differentiators between Arcitecta and its competitors is its ability to operate at an extreme scale: hundreds of billions of files whereas others are limited to millions of files. The main technology that determines the scale of operation is the database these products use. Most products that compete with Arcitecta use off-the-shelf, open-source PostgreSQL and are limited to managing smaller file counts than today’s data-generating organisations need.
When Arcitecta saw file counts growing well into the billions and couldn’t find a database that could scale as the need grew, we created a wholly new database, called XODB. XODB takes our customers’ disparate data and reveals the order beneath, the relationships which govern all actions in Arcitecta’s products. We have customers today managing well over 100 billion files with our Mediaflux product.
NFS and SMB Were Developed In-House Too
It's very common in our business for storage and data management companies to use off-the-shelf open-source software for NFS and SMB protocols (Ganesha, Samba). Arcitecta saw that Ganesha and Samba do not scale well enough to handle the large number of clients or the high volume of file operations our customers require. So Arcitecta developed its own NFS and SMB protocols in-house, once again from first principles. This costly and time-consuming effort resulted in exceptional performance, scale, security, and efficiency – enabling data to be processed quickly by any application.
There is another reason for first-principles. When you understand how things work at a fundamental level, that gives you the best foundation for innovation.
Reliable, Affordable Fast File Transfer
Many Arcitecta customers have been using commercial high-speed WAN file transfer solutions and were experiencing problems related to their use of the UDP protocol. Trying to transfer encrypted files over congested networks was especially problematic. They were also reeling from exorbitant, uncapped, pay-per-GB transferred pricing. Looking at the problem from a first principles point of view, Arcitecta created a high-speed solution based on reliable TCP/IP (an industry first) called Livewire, and priced it affordably with flat-rate unlimited file transfer pricing (another industry breakthrough). I’ll talk about how our pricing is so different from anyone else next.
I’m not sure if we were the first. Maybe a better way of saying this is along the lines of “Arcitecta went against the grain (UDP) and made the best of TCP/IP”
We Don’t Rip Off Our Customers
I already mentioned how we don’t charge per GB transferred for our Livewire product. While it has been a lucrative business model for our competitors, we feel it punishes customers and inhibits them from fully using the products. And it has nothing to do with how much it costs them or us to support the product. And unlike the rest of the industry, we also don’t charge per capacity ($/GB) for our storage-related Mediaflux and Point In Time products. Our customers and partners love this, and it encourages unlimited use on their part!
“We Solve the Problems Others Cannot”
As a result, we end up solving problems others cannot. Our First Principles philosophy allows for a more agile and responsive approach to problem-solving and decision-making. By breaking down problems to their most fundamental levels, Arcitecta can find innovative solutions that others have overlooked. We often are called in as a last resort, after customers have tried other vendors who couldn’t scale to their requirements. Indeed, even our competitors have sent their customers to us when they have gotten over their heads. And other data management and storage companies have sought us out to help them and we are happy to do so.
Another advantage of being a First Principles company is Arcitecta’s ability to attract and retain top talent. Employees are drawn to Arcitecta’s commitment to innovation. Arcitecta’s first principles culture helps employees feel more engaged and invested in their work, as they are given the freedom to think critically and make a real impact.
Arcitecta’s Unique Business Model Drives Its First Principles Culture
I opened this blog by describing Arcitecta’s unique business model because the biggest challenge is maintaining a commitment to first principles thinking in the face of business pressures and external forces commonly experienced by investor-driven, grow-fast-at-all-costs cultures. In an environment where profits are the primary concern, it can be difficult to prioritise the pursuit of innovation and continuous learning. That is not a problem at Arcitecta.