Margaret Craig reflects on Signiant’s “journey into the cloud”

A fjord in Norway under a cloudy sky, but with a few beams of sunlight breaking through.

A few weeks ago, a journalist from IBC365 reached out to us about our experience transitioning from developing on-premises to cloud-native software for the media industry. Our CEO, Margaret Craig, provided some answers, which were incorporated into an interesting article featuring several other cloud innovators called Journeying into the cloud.

The last seven years have certainly been a busy time, the last few even more so with the rapid adoption of Shuttle and the recent launch of Jet, so it was nice to step back and reflect on our journey. In case you’re interested, here’s the full Q&A with Margaret.

Tell us about your company. When did it set it up? What kind of tools does it provide for the film and TV industry? What kind of clients are you working with – and to do what?

Signiant’s success as a company has emerged in two waves: the first began in the mid 2000s as the Media industry transitioned to file-based workflows and Signiant’s on-premises large file transfer technology became indispensable to most of the world’s top Media companies.

Today, most of the world’s mission-critical media workflows are still powered by Signiant’s Manager+Agents software, which is the gold standard for automated system-to-system transfers for the enterprise.

The second wave, which is still unfolding, coincided with the cloud revolution and Signiant’s development of SaaS solutions that have since been adopted by media companies of all sizes. Signiant was an early pioneer of cloud-native SaaS solutions for high-speed large file transfers, releasing Media Shuttle in 2012. Media Shuttle brought the power of Signiant technology — the ability to quickly and securely transfer any size file, anywhere in the world — to companies of all sizes by curating the right feature sets and offering packaging and pricing that scales to meet the needs of everyone from small post houses to global media conglomerates.

Media Shuttle provided a much-needed way for people to easily and securely send and share large files fast. The solution saw a steady adoption for the first few years. Then, in 2018, it hit hyper-growth when it was adopted by many of the world’s largest media companies, who early on were less open to cloud and SaaS, an attitude that has dramatically changed over the last 18-24 months. Now, Media Shuttle has over 400,000 global users from more than 25,000 companies in 200+ countries and territories around the world.

Signiant also developed high-speed cloud transfer technology, releasing our second SaaS product, Flight in 2014. Flight is a unique SaaS solution that accelerates the movement of large datasets to and from the cloud and is capable of multi-Gbps speeds. Flight is often used for large-scale cloud data ingest projects, especially those that involve ingesting content from multiple locations around the world. The technology advancements we made with Flight also allowed us to incorporate cloud storage into Media Shuttle, further extending the solution’s application to include cloud workflows.

2019 has already been another big year for Signiant, with the release of our 3rd SaaS solution, Signiant Jet. Targeted initially at SMBs and simpler use cases, Jet is the easiest way to automate system-to-system workflows between global locations and partners. Launched at NAB 2019, Jet was awarded product of the year by both The NAB Show and TV Technology. With the release of Jet, Signiant also unveiled a new intelligent transport mechanism, which incorporates machine learning to adapt to changing network conditions and provide the most optimal throughput.

How does your company use the cloud?  How has the cloud allowed it to develop?

Signiant pioneered the first true SaaS solutions for accelerated file transfers, and we continue to lead the way with six out of our ten patents awarded for cloud and SaaS innovations. As with any cloud-native SaaS, Signiant takes ultimate responsibility for operation of the cloud environment, managing and maintaining it for users across multiple levels of redundancy with multi-tenant architecture.

One of the differentiators for Signiant is our unique SaaS architecture. As an independent company, Signiant is committed to storage independence, supporting on-premises file and object storage, public cloud storage from vendors including Amazon and Microsoft, as well as hybrid storage solutions where both on-premises and cloud storage are in play.

Signiant’s unique SaaS architecture allows customer to harness the power of our enterprise-grade SaaS solutions — including accessing, reporting on and controlling operations from a secure web interface —while connected to their own storage, whether on-premises or in the cloud. In this way, companies get the best of both worlds: global access with complete control over their assets and storage costs.

As mentioned above, Signiant’s embrace of cloud technology development has transformed our business, allowing companies of all sizes to benefit from technology that was once only available to large enterprises. Our SaaS business grew by 46% in 2018 so being early in this area has really paid off.

Which cloud platform have you used – and why?

While our multi-tenant control-plane is currently built and deployed on AWS, our commitment to storage independence requires that we work closely with all leading cloud providers including AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

What have been the technical challenges along the way?

The transition to SaaS requires a transformation across your entire business, not just technology. From a pure tech perspective, keeping up with the fast pace of cloud innovation is an ongoing focus to make sure we support the latest cloud services across vendors and regions.

What advice would you give to any company wanting to set up a cloud-based offering / company?

Signiant’s transition to SaaS was led by a product not business model. That is the best piece of advice we can offer: to lead with product. It’s not easy, as it means curating the right features vs. moving an entire product and feature set to the cloud. Sometimes you have to say no, and that is hard, but ultimately it leads to better products and much better scale.

What’s next for the company?

While acceleration remains central to what we do, our vast customer base is pulling us to layer on more intelligence and new enterprise features to solve challenges beyond fast file movement. A recent example of this is the addition of IMF support to our SaaS platform, there are many more adjacent offerings like this on our product roadmap. Stay tuned!

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