I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the phrase inflection point. The technical meaning relates to a mathematical principle, so if you’re a sucker for geometry and calculus then you’re going to be thinking about curvatures and planes and undulation points. Fun stuff for sure, and because we at OpenDrives are at heart technical professionals that’s the first thought in our minds when we hear the phrase. However, it’s the secondary meaning that these math concepts inspire that really has me pondering. I’m talking about inflection points as moments of significant change—and changes in direction—that every person and every organization wind up facing.
Like a curve going from concave to convex (the math principle), inflection points are those moments when we change from going in one direction to going in another, all along a continuous path. Maybe your favorite ice cream flavor was chocolate, but then it suddenly became pistachio. Or perhaps you were going to attend one college in one state, suddenly to decide to go to another one in a completely different part of the country. Why the change in direction? And more importantly, what’s the big deal about changing your mind and direction anyway, right? I don’t really want to get into the first question, because so many different forces can act on us that we find it difficult to put our fingers on the specific causes of change.
Changing directions, though, is always something worth some thought and examination. The reason is that, had you not shifted directions, then everything that follows would be a completely different lived experience. Think about college. You go to one and you meet a specific group of people (professors, students, and others) who have vast influences across your life, on how you think and act, on what profession you wind up taking on, and ultimately on the people with whom you spend the rest of your life as friends or possibly something more. Change directions and go to another college, well, that’s a completely different life, with different possibilities and certainly different outcomes. So it’s probably good to know when you’re at an inflection point, to be conscious of impending change, and to know why you might start traveling down a different path, or at least an expanded one. What’s the purpose for the change, and what are the potential outcomes? And of course, how best to leverage the lessons of the past and acquired core strengths to accelerate through inflection?
I’m thinking so much about inflection points because OpenDrives as a business is very much at one. Since 2011, we’ve been successful as a vendor of really fast and really powerful NAS storage solutions. Our scale-up solutions have been adopted widely in a number of different industries, and our name is synonymous in those circles with ultra-high-performing storage. We’ve helped many critical businesses deal with highly complex workflows and incredibly large datasets, and we’ve created a lot of really wonderful partnerships with our customer base. Continuing in that same direction, building on to our existing architecture by continually making our storage faster and faster, and just adding incremental new features certainly would have been logical. I mean, keep doing what you’re good at, right?
That wasn’t good enough for us, though, because our engineering and creative expertise can solve so many more problems for businesses and enterprises. OpenDrives is a company that prides itself on working side-by-side with our customers to solve really difficult problems, soliciting honest feedback and constructive criticism along the way to make our products that much better. And our customers weren’t shy about telling us how we were meeting their needs, as well as how we weren’t. That got us thinking—for several years now, as a matter of fact—and the end result was a deliberate decision to do some really innovative things that didn’t amount to just making each iteration of our storage faster than the previous iterations (though we have continued to do that, too). We started to chart a new course, to build on our technical achievements and see how much we could really push the envelope for storage performance, flexibility, and portability.
Our inflection point has allowed us to widen the scope of how we view ourselves in the storage industry in which we market our solutions. That has taken us in new and exciting product directions. OpenDrives is as much or even more so a software company as it is a vendor of hardware. We know the power and utility of well-designed, robust, and easy-to-use software to drive enterprise storage beyond the ordinary. We wanted to push the limits of what storage can do not only along performance lines but also in the way it is architected, deployed, and managed. And we need to meet the needs and desired outcomes not only of boutique shops with very specialized services but also of large enterprises who just can’t innovate any further with the same old enterprise storage vendors they’ve been doing business with for so many years. By starting to take a divergent path from the one we thought we were on, leveraging our past successes to create future ones, we’re pivoting around this inflection point of being what we were to being what we’re really destined to be. So the future will be really exciting for us, of that I am positive.
Let me be really clear, though. The fact that we at OpenDrives are navigating through that inflection point of change and growth isn’t as important as the inflection points that all of our customers and prospects are trying to navigate. Just think about how much has changed in the markets, in the outside world, and in our lives over the past six months. Not one business still exists that hasn’t had to change directions dramatically, to pivot rapidly, and to start thinking about entirely different ways to do business in order to survive and grow. For example, so many companies have had to scramble to accommodate an entirely remote workforce, which necessitated change at the cultural, operational, and infrastructure layers of the organization. By the way, we had to do the same thing, and along the way we brought to market OpenDrives Anywhere to help our customers and prospects solve this common problem.
Our focus is wholly on our customers, on the problems they’re facing and the goals they’ve set out for their organizations. We’ve committed ourselves to helping them achieve all the positive outcomes they deserve, and to do that we’ve had to rethink who we are, what we are, and what we’re providing for them. So really, our inflection point was a re-dedication of our commitment to our customers. We had to change direction and become something a little different, and something more, precisely because that’s where all our customers, active and prospective, are too.
In a few days, you’re going to be seeing some really big things from OpenDrives. I hope you can stay tuned and watch as we reveal the fruits of our labor and a new identity for OpenDrives. We have another blog post coming that will tie all of these notions into what we’re bringing to market, how we see these new offers as incredibly helpful for our customers’ own inflection points and growth plans, and what the potential beneficial outcomes are.