Zoolz interview: BIGMIND, cloud storage, and the future

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(Image credit: Zoolz)

Zoolz is a cloud storage solution that boasts an impressive amount of storage, powerful data encryption, and an unlimited number of users. In other words, it’s one of the best cloud storage solutions available today for businesses of all sizes. Its BigMIND platform leverages powerful AI to provide a complete cloud storage solution to businesses and enterprises.

We were able to catch up with Zoolz’ CEO, Muayyad Shehadeh. An award-winning and globally recognised authority on cloud storage, Muayyad’s insightful responses and commentary on the cloud storage industry make this interview a must-read. Plus, find out how the company weathered the COVID-19 pandemic, and what’s on the horizon.

Can you give us a brief overview of the company and what it does?

Genie9 by Zoolz was set up in mid-2005 as a home-based cloud-local backup solution, and over time it evolved into a hybrid and full cloud, mobile backup, and multi-tenant reseller system. When we initially started, people used to back up their laptops to an external drive, so we addressed the problem by launching two powerful products.

The first launched product was Genie Backup Manager Pro 9.0, which backs up all your files to CD/DVD/Blu-ray, FTP/FTPS, Amazon S3, and external and network locations. It’s very good for scheduling and scripting. The second product was Genie Timeline Professional 10, which is a simple, easy to use, continuous backup for all your files to external drives or network locations.

As the market needs evolved more towards business solutions, what were originally home-based products expanded into a full front- and back-end system. The company reached 70 employees, all highly qualified programmers and engineers in the cloud software industry.

Nowadays, BigMIND focuses on building strong partnerships, expanding its multi-tenant systems, and telecoms. It positions itself as a market-leading provider of cloud-based storage, a very affordable and secure cloud solution for businesses and individuals.

BigMIND’s AI addresses the business problem of having masses of unstructured data scattered across desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. With no time and inadequate security measures to protect these valuable data assets, Genie9 decided to create a solution that can not only organise your data but protect it with military-grade encryption.

The user experience is innovative and focused on simplicity, so you will be able to back up and access big data quickly and smoothly. BigMIND also provides complete white-label solutions for service providers, so they can make a profit reselling the product as if it were their own. That’s why more than three million users across the world count on BigMIND.

What’s been your biggest success, and why?

Zoolz BigMIND's interface

(Image credit: Zoolz)

It’s difficult to pick just one, as we have had many successes to be proud of over the years! For me, the triumphs that stand out the most are when, despite a lot of challenges, BigMIND entered the cloud backup sector and truly turned it on its head in a positive way.

With a huge amount of collective effort, we expanded the company to different countries, reaching an impressive growth curve. The company has gone from zero to 25 countries, and six global data centers protecting over five million users in more than 143 countries worldwide, since its inception six years ago, and has launched a suite of top-notch cloud products along the way.

With coverage across 157 countries, our partnerships expand consistently to utilise BigMIND’s latest AI and complete cloud backup technology, working with companies such as Canon, Dell, Benefit Japan CO Ltd, Acer, and EarthLink. Some of our big customers are Duracell, Steve Madden, Harvard Library, Endeavour Mining, West Medical, UTLX: the tank car people, and Open Colleges.

In fact, we pride ourselves on our partnerships, and one of our top prestigious global partners, AOS Data Co. Ltd., a member of the BigMIND Partner Program based in Japan, won the world-renowned IT Grid Review Award Winter 2021.

The company is using BigMIND’s cutting-edge cloud backup technologies that can maintain the optimum environment even after installation with efficient restoration function and full support, comprehensively protecting customers’ data assets [from dangers] such as leakage, loss, and natural disasters.

Furthermore, AOS Data Co. Ltd. has helped us to increase our market share in Japan tremendously, and we are continuously working with more partners to expand in South America and the Far East.

What have been the biggest challenges, and how did you tackle them?

I think that it comes back to determination and drive, and the love for what we do!

One thing which has always helped me was to see in each challenge a blessing in disguise. Thus, at an early stage, when the competition was very high, prices went down, and the market changed, bringing in new opportunities. Moreover, we had to adapt rapidly to the new market conditions and change our business model, with a focus on AI technology like machine learning (ML) to weave intelligence and automation into our array of products.

This meant switching from home and business direct sales to multi-tenant systems, which culminated with the launch of a new best-selling product. With the new future-proofed AI product, our team has embedded a free feature that uses artificial intelligence to help users discover photos by the objects that appear within them.

One of the latest top features introduces a powerful, accurate facial recognition and photodetection engine, which will keep all your photos organized and easily accessible.

What impacts—both positive and negative—has the pandemic had on your business?

One positive impact of the pandemic is the fact that it helped us to look at different sales channels, reduce costs, and restructure our internal operations, so we can adapt to remote working much faster and become more agile in the long run.

On the other hand, COVID-19 has impacted our sales both positively and negatively, as a few of the small and medium businesses that used our services tried to reduce their costs by cutting back on backup services, which wasn’t really the right decision to take.

But on the other hand, larger companies increased their budgets when it came to data storage and protection, because of the increased risks remote working posed for their on-site data centers. As a consequence of this, we are changing our plans to be more adaptable and focused on multi-tenant systems instead of smaller businesses and home users.

What new market challenges and opportunities have you seen emerge?

Zoolz BigMIND's interface

(Image credit: Zoolz)

One of the biggest market challenges is to figure out how to deliver advanced data protection and focus on disaster recovery, different types of mail backups, and VMs. Our future plans envisage a complete suite of backup disaster recovery solutions, VMs, mail recovery, and share points, which is one of our main competitive advantages in the long run.

Along the road to mobile data expansion, we have launched an all-in-one mobile cloud backup that gives you peace of mind by protecting your iPhone and Android data. We’ve learned a couple of key principles that have helped us grow and continuously deliver new innovations for our customers.

Are you taking advantage of the new world of blended and remote working? If so, how?

Actually, we did take advantage of remote working, which meant that half of the team worked from home. At the same time, it helped us to go out of our comfort zone and hire more people from outside London. Also, we are looking at different efficient modalities to protect users, to use machines during disaster recovery, and eliminate the need for admins to adapt to remote working conditions.

What are your aims for the future?

We are looking at how we can grow more, double our sales by the end of 2022, and open new markets with our powerful multi-tenant system by focusing on emerging markets, like South America, the Far East, and India.

In the next one to two years, we will continuously be working on improving the users’ experience, as the demand in the market is now for a solution that accommodates the cloud backup needs of people working from the office and home.

One of our main priorities is to address the needs of users whose laptops may get corrupted, or who are victims of a ransomware attack. Hence, we want to save them time and eliminate the problem of slow repairs by offering them a secure, fully integrated cloud solution.

How do you see the cloud storage sector changing in the next five to 10 years?

I believe that the cloud storage ecosystem will be using more and more of the latest tools in artificial intelligence to innovate and serve its customers with purpose. The cloud is changing for home users and business cloud services as data usage increases more, and there is a growing interest in mobile data protection.

Our team has identified a big need to address in terms of the data, and this versatile and highly scalable AI layer offered by BigMIND is meant to help make finding the data easier, and organise and structure it, no matter where people are.

BigMIND is breaking new ground by using complete data cloud backup combined with innovative AI technology patent-pending in the USA, allowing us to back up massive amounts of data at rates that are actually cheaper than Amazon, as we have zero restore costs. We are focused on providing seamless, future-proofed, world-class backup/recovery and business continuity for our customers.

Christian Rigg

Christian is a freelance writer and content project manager, with over six years' experience writing and leading teams in finance and technology for some of the world's largest online publishers, including TechRadar and Tom's Guide.