Do your best job at the companies you want to start and take the risks you want to take. When you believe in your gut and follow your intuition, you’ll grow and succeed.
An Irishman who’s spent more than 30 years in technology leadership roles, Hans O’Sullivan has accumulated vast experience in the IP-based storage and protocols industry and has seven patents to his name. Before co-founding StorMagic in 2006, he spent many years as CTO at leading IP storage company Eurologic (a leading supplier of storage platforms to companies such as Network Appliance, Dell, Fujitsu Siemens and Avid) and became CEO at Elipsan when it was spun off from Eurologic in 2003. He earned an Honours degree in Electronics from The University of Limerick.
Today, Hans is CEO of Bristol, U.K.-based StorMagic. An international organization, StorMagic is the eighth company founded by Hans, and was established on the concept that technology had become way too complex and something had to be done to fix it. The software-defined storage company delivers hyperconverged infrastructure for enterprises and SMEs managing one to many lean IT environments. The company’s core mission is to make the complex simple. He has grown the business to more than 1,000 customers, many with StorMagic software installed at hundreds or even thousands of sites. StorMagic SvSAN is the most cost-effective software solution for multi-site edge computing environments, and is now in its sixth version.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
My university thesis at The University of Limerick was on the importance of highly-available two node systems for lean IT sites—so my passion for this space is deeply rooted. In fact, the broad concepts discussed in that paper were the seeds of what eventually became StorMagic SvSAN architecture. StorMagic was founded on the concept that technology has become way too complex – and is dedicated to making the complex simple. We founded the company to make storage simpler for SMEs – but the market wasn’t ready to shift from physical to virtual storage back then. We pivoted and started selling to large enterprises with edge computing sites; these locations had the resources to evaluate our solution and were burdened with the pain of remote site downtime and lack of IT staff to manage it all. Now that “software-defined storage” is a household name with widespread adoption, we believe it will make its way throughout organizations of all sizes.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Since StorMagic is an international company that conducts business all over the world, I break my day off into five chunks to accommodate time zones and company priorities. My day starts at 6:30 a.m. and I begin with key customer and partner communications in the Far East, primarily Japan. Mid-morning, I move on to my management team to identify top priorities and escalate decision making. European customer and partner communications come third. I spend the afternoon working with my USA-based connections until around 8:00 p.m.
After my StorMagic responsibilities, I move on to my “night job” and passion—running my farm. I spend two hours a night on my tractor managing the horses and property. The peace and tranquility is unmatched, and the secret to my work/life balance.
How do you bring ideas to life?
All of my best ideas have come to life by surrounding myself with great people. While I directly developed many of the concepts at StorMagic and in my previous companies, it’s been years since I’ve truly “gotten my hands dirty” in the details. Our talented staff is comprised of leaders that I trust explicitly, who create brilliant concepts and turn them into reality. At the board level, we discuss and implement plans to bring our team’s technology concepts to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The advent of hybrid IT is my favorite trend. For years, the market has suggested that organizations are moving to the datacenter or cloud, but with unprecedented growth of global data (the world’s data is doubling year over year), the market is shifting to the edge. Data must be dealt with quickly where it’s being generated, filtered, then sent out to a traditional datacenter or cloud. A key statistic that really drives home how much data will be created at the edge: autonomous vehicles are expected to generate up to 10TB of data per day in the near future. That information must be processed immediately to alert the driver of impending road conditions and potential dangers.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am highly driven by making decisions quickly. As companies scale, having a larger staff can mean slower time to decisions. Smaller, nimble organizations can solve problems quickly and on the fly—in the corridor or over coffee—to efficiently drive the business forward.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I live by the motto that you only die once. I would advise my younger self to enjoy and experience life, have goals and take risks. I’d tell a younger Hans to do as much as he can, while he can, in both life and business. The goal is to go to your grave saying, “boy, that was a ride!”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Money is irrelevant. I’ve never been driven by, or put too much importance on money. I’m significantly more motivated by getting things done.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I make a point to never over-analyze anything. Do your best job at the companies you want to start and take the risks you want to take. When you believe in your gut and follow your intuition, you’ll grow and succeed.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Hire good people that you trust. When you empower them to believe in themselves, they take ownership and excel.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
A former business partner once fled the country with some of the company’s investment money. While that kind of experience would make anyone a bit more cautious, I overcame it by making the conscious decision to continue to trust others. Employees deliver their best in an environment of trust.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We all have mobile phones, and the majority are smartphones with multiple apps, which have not required a special training course. Strive to make your business applications as usable as an everyday mobile phone. The future of IT is all about ease of use, ease of management and making the complex simple.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently splurged on a bottle Ardberg single malt Scotch whisky. It’s a smoky, specialist whiskey and one of my favorites. I house a collection of whisky and wine in a cellar at the farm.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Two years ago, I would’ve quickly said Skype for its collaboration functionality, particularly for an international company. There’s a space in the market today for a better tool to come out. I know this may sound old-school but Microsoft Excel is still my favorite software today because I use it frequently to manage the company’s complex three-year strategic financial plan.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” by Edward Gibbon is an historical book and a truly good read. History always repeats itself; this work is a good reminder to not repeat the same mistakes.
What is your favorite quote?
“It isn’t true that you live only once. You only die once. You live lots of times, if you know how.”
— Bobby Darin
● Find your “night job” for a mental break from the business to ensure optimal life/work balance
● Don’t burn unnecessary time or delay decision making by over-analyzing; go with your gut
● Surround yourself with great people who you trust, and success will follow every time
● Experience life: you only die once!
StorMagic Blog: www.StorMagic.com/blog
StorMagic Website: www.StorMagic.com
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.