Podcast: Technology behind one of California's most innovative offices

By Reduxio Systems for Beyond The Blocks - Monday, November 21, 2016

Below is transcription of the podcast.

Speakers: Mike Grandinetti, Logan Lemming


Hello, everyone, this is Mike Grandinetti, chief marketing and corporate strategy officer with Reduxio. I'd like to welcome you to this episode of our Beyond the Block's podcast.

In addition to being, executive at Reduxio, I've been a professor for twenty years, both at MIT and currently at the Hult International Business School, where I'm a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation. Just wanted to give you a two minute background on Reduxio.

We launched the company just over a year ago at the VMworld, and we were named a best of the Vmworld company. Over the last year, we've had the opportunity to work with customers in a wide range of industries. We've got customers within state and local government. We've got customers in high tech, manufacturing, e-commerce, retail, and certainly within the education sector.

We're lucky enough today to hear from the El Dorado County Office of Education, and we're going to hear directly from Logan Lemming in a second. Reduxio's also had success in other academic or educational institutions as well, including one of the largest state universities in the United States of America. And extremely prestigious engineering institute in Israel. But today we're gonna hear directly from Logan Lemming. So let's get started, I'm gonna start of by introducing Logan Lemming, the El Dorado County Office of Education, you know, under the guidance of Logan was one of Reduxio's very first customers. Company that was actually with us even from our very first proof of concept box. And they've been using Reduxio for just over a year.

The El Dorado County Office of Education is not your grandfather's , educational organization. They have a very broad mandate and I'm just gonna read very briefly their mission statement before I start a fireside chat with Logan.

So the county office of education will provide leadership into the 21st century through quality service the school districts, students, parents, and community while promoting educational excellence for all learners, through the following means. Provide leadership and advocacy support on behalf of public education, develop and implement student programs as requested by school districts or in response to community needs, and serve as an intermediate educational agency between school districts and state controlled agencies.

So Logan, pretty broad mission, I'd like to welcome Logan Lemming as our first speaker today. Logan has been with EDCOE for over ten years, he's served in a nber of roles, today he leads a 14 person team within the organization and he's had a long history of working with the VMware and virtualization in storage area networks. Logan welcome and thanks for joining us today.


Thanks very much, it's an absolute pleasure.


So Logan maybe we can start off by having you talk a little bit about the unique mission that your team is fulfilling everyday. Because it's not your typical internal IT organization with an educational institution, can you speak to that?


Yeah, thank you for the compliment. , when I first came in to public education, I came out of the private sector, , professional services consulting. And I found very quickly that a lot of the processes, a lot of the infrastructure in public education was very outdated, , it was unreliable, and I quickly started realizing that there was an opportunity to provide better quality service, provide better educational opportunities. And to really create an almost professional services consulting department inside the county office.

We're uniquely positioned so that we have a broad mandate and so we have a lot of opportunity to work with school districts in our county, but then quickly as some of our services and offerings that we created and started to gain traction, we started to do business with a lot of other educational agencies across the state, across county lines. And so its been wild ride we have, we do a lot of , of, of hosted services virtual desktops, we we host a lot of, you know, we're sort of the private cloud for quite a few of the institutions in our county and even across county lines.

And then we do most recently in the last couple of years we've found a lot of traction doing you know custom app development that, that actually can sort of supercharges the backend infrastructure of a lot the school districts, a lot of the ones we do business with because they've got a lot of archaic infrastructure and processes and we sort of rev it up, if you will.


That’s great, and Logan I mean the nbers are pretty extraordinary, so you've got within your school district, roughly 15 schools, no, 15 districts itself, right? With, with roughly 70 schools in total. But on a much larger scale you're working with roughly half of all the charter schools in California and my understanding is that you've got over 1 million students and users that you're serving today.

Yeah , you know, there- we, we started in El Dorado county and you know what works in the small in a you know small environment we scaled it up and we were - we work for a very entrepreneurial county office.

The county office has come in every shape and size. Some of them are just a regulatory agency and some of them I would, I would credit our, our superintendent for a long time Vicki Barber and our current superintendent Ed Manansala with sort of being behind this idea of hey well lets be entrepreneurial and so-


It gave me the backing to really, you know, to go out there and get business and create tools and, and things that there- other people would want and so yeah we're, we're doing business right now with about half the charters in the state and , you know creating tools for them, creating you know business solutions and its , its a lot of fun and its a, its an ever evolving marketplace as , you know every time the legislation meets things could change but that's okay.


Right. Yeah and I think a couple of other things that I was really struck by during our, our discussions. One is, you know you use the word entrepreneurial right, and I think of the fact that you're not there at the you know at the benefit of tax payer money, you're a self-funding organization in that its the applications that you are developing and then licensing to these charter schools. That is really the-


Financial support that allows you guys to keep this mission moving forward, that's really extraordinary in the education world.


Yeah. Oh definitely and I, I think you know I think it, it, its , its an interesting model, a lot of people look at me, its strange because - we're in the public sector and we, we operate like a private industry.

But its a good thing because you know at the end of the day, tax payer's from my county, the tax payer's of the state, you know, they want get the, the best education for their dollar. If we can go out there and we can create solutions that people need and they want and they'll pay us for them.

That actually allows us to give them a better product at the end of the day which is a student that is more prepared to succeed in life, so it's a good thing.


Right and, that great, and so the environment that you're managing with your team of 14, 15 people fairly comprehensive right, wide number of virtual desktops, you know many, many instances of VMware virtual servers, you know, number of databases, number of cloud hosted apps, can you describe the environment maybe just a little bit more detail for everyone, in terms of what it looks like.


Yeah. I mean, we're also an internet provider for for our county as well so we, we're on the California Research and Educational network we have 10gig lengths that go north and south, we have, we have a large you know virtual cloud basically all running on top the VMware. we do, we do quite a bit of like I said of application development, that's actually how we first sort of found Reduxio, and that's the really the first fit that we found and to really allow us to develop and to develop more quickly and to be more agile in our development and so, you know, its, it goes across the gamut. We have a large host a lot of wireless controllers, if you think it, we have it.

So that's why actually having a device like the Reduxio, coming in it was not necessary, it was something that was very easy for us to engage with and get to work immediately on, was so attractive to us.


Well that's great. And I guess that leads to a, you know, sort of a comment and a question. The first is you know, you describe yourself as er, as an entrepreneurial but I would also have to describe you as a rabid early adopter, I mean, you don't normally find you know county government educational agencies you know working with proof of concept systems from very early stage, pre-shipping companies. So what you know, as you, as you first engage Reduxio what were you looking for and, and what was missing in the marketplace that lead you to say well maybe Reduxio is the right solution for what we need right now, especially to protect our devops environment.


Yeah I mean, I think maybe you know just coming in to it I straight out of college I worked at a bunch of startup companies. And so I think you kind of get the taste for something that's new and, and you, you every once in a while even when you're working in an established environment you kind of, you kind of long for that hey these people are looking at this differently and they're doing something completely game changer.

So I've always kept my eyes out there because if you can adopt something like that quickly you have competitive advantage. and so because we are in an industry where we are have to be competitive.

It's that lens that I look for. 

We first started Reduxio, I was having issues in my development environment, and I was looking for something, you know I, I needed to, I had to you know spend, I needed to buy some storage because we were you know putting up all these new databases, we were doing a bunch of different things with web apps and , what really resonated with me was when I saw a presentation on it and the idea of the, of not having to to go back to snapshots because we do that a lot.

We you know when someone does something you know you, you patch something, you try something new, you, you know upgrade from one version of MVC to another version of MVC you know things can go wrong and the amount of time I was losing in recovering form those issues was just something I wanted to see if there was a technology solution for. And sure enough-


Well now you know I guess, the proof, the proof is in the pudding you've had Reduxio for a year, what, what's the experience been relative to what you thought was the promise at the time that you were originally procured us.


I'd say that we've been running Reduxio for almost two years now, or a year and a half or- I think we've had the ... we've actually purchased, because we purchased right before you guys went to the VMworld. but, the, the initial box, the proof of concept box when it came in normally I would never put a proof of concept box, into even in my development environment, you know you would just mess around with it and then wait for it to go to GA. But the moment I logged in to the interface the first time I knew something was totally different. And most of you who have actually looked at the interface who know. Just logging in to it and seeing the way Reduxio looks at managing storage, the care that they put in to creating an interface that was easy to use and, and, dare I say just fun to use. I immediately was thinking you know what lets, lets give this a try. So through it in the development environment, and sure enough two weeks later one of my main developers blew away the schema on one of our main you know development SQL servers and everything went down. And normally that would be, I mean not in the, in production but you know all the development stopped. My whole development team couldn't do anything.

And sure enough you know, I, I go to one of my system engineers and I say how long is it gonna take, well its gonna take a couple hours you know we'll bring the snap over, we gotta find, you know we did a, we did a back up you know last night, but I, I was like hey lets log in to the Reduxio and lets see if it works. We just dialed that little dial back to a minute before it happened and boom.

We were running back and running. So you know it was, it was interesting because I theoretically knew that I had that capability but I was kind of hoping to never have to use it. But  it worked perfectly.


That's great Logan, great. And, and Logan I know that this extremely , aggressive new phenomena called ransom ware has been getting a tremendous amount of attention. We're seeing you know 4,000 attacks a day. FBI recently issued , a strong request for people to let them know if they are attacked you know put your embarrassment aside and you know lets start to understand you know how these very, very pernicious attacks are sort of increasing in sophistication.

As you think about you know the potential of a ransom ware attack, which is almost inevitable, given that we are seeing this frequency on a daily basis right and we've had, we've had several customers that have in fact been attacked more than twice and they've recovered in the same way that you just described when you blew away your schema and dev environment. Can you talk a bit about sort of how you were going to protect yourself against what will have been the inevitable hack at some point and, and how Reduxio can kind of help you recover from that.


Well I mean its a, its a reality for us. Its not even something that's a pie in the sky.

Just a couple of months ago I actually had a FBI special agent in my office. I walked in.

There's this FBI special agent and I'm thinking oh man they finally caught up to me from my early days, but it wasn't though, it was that they were there to, to actually just warn us about - The you know and, and it was, it was very sobering because we the attacks against education had become so significant they were actually devoting their resources to field agents to go out and actually meet with district leads, technology leads, and warn them about these attacks

Ramping up. And sure enough since then you know we've had a couple of districts that have fallen prey to to ransom ware on some of their older systems that they're, that they're not hosting with us.

Yeah, its actually been a big motivator for them to move in to using our environment on Reduxio because we've been able to recover from those things. Its not, so its not something that I don't worry about. Its just something that I know that I've taken at least some measured prudent steps to protect us from. And then all of my, all of my you know outside facing stuff is on a. Reduxio. So I know-

That at any time I ... if something like that did happen, I could just dial the dial back and I could get back to a place where we're working.

So it does put me sleep better at night, absolutely.


No that's great. 

So you know this is something that I think you know you will see increasingly as, as, certainly we were very forward looking in trying to protect devops and virtual environment and databases, but the ransom ware thing has become a very interesting additional set of capabilities that we've seen a nber of our customers benefit from recently. And, and that nber is growing so ... well Logan, this is great. Any last things you would share with our audience today? People in the educational IT space or just in general people running devops environments or virtual environments?


Well I mean, besides that, I mean, that if you haven't really, if you haven't given that opportunity to even just log in one time to a Reduxio array.

And just look at their take on things that they should definitely try.

Very quickly you'll see that its that if you notice technologies that are just disruptive, they just change the way you do things, they change the way you think.

About how things should be done. Reduxio is definitely there. And I mean I don’t get compensated or anything like that for being a Reduxio evangelistic, except for the fact that I feel good when people buy technology that will solve real problems and position them better for the future so.  

Reduxio Systems

Written by Reduxio Systems

There has been no fundamental innovation in data management for primary storage for the last two decades. In 2012, a group of storage industry veterans founded Reduxio with the vision to redefine data management and protection by taking advantage of new processing, networking and media technologies.

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