However, before ZEDEDA, Said’s customer engagement experience brought him to executive product management and technical sales roles at various infrastructure companies such as Ericsson, Juniper Networks, Redback Networks and Violin Memory.
An inventor of two issued patents, Said holds a Bachelor degree in Computer Science, is originally from the Netherlands and speaks five languages.
M.R. Rangaswami: What motivated you to start ZEDEDA? What do you mean when you talk about “the edge”?
Said Ouissal: Our founding team (myself along with Erik Nordmark, Vijay Tapaskar, and Roman Shaposhnik) has expertise in a number of related fields, including networking, building operating systems to run in the cloud, big data, and analytics. We have people on the team who have written code that is on every Android phone today.
How ZEDEDA defines “the edge”? Broadly speaking, the edge is the intersection of the digital and physical worlds. It’s where compute capabilities are delivered to the last reach of the network, in order to provide improvements like performance, security, cost savings, etc. We see the edge as a continuum, meaning there are different types of edges as you move from a centralized data center to the smallest constrained devices. ZEDEDA focuses on what we call the distributed edge, which encompasses devices outside of any secure physical data center and that may range from small server clusters down to hardware as lightweight as 512mb of RAM.
We had a couple of key insights that led us to establish ZEDEDA. The first was that as increasingly more people, locations, and things are connected, organizations will have to deal with an unprecedented amount of data now generated at the edge of the network and Internet. And the only way that companies could reasonably deal with all of this data would be to move the analytics and inference to the edge where it is generated – it would be too expensive and time-consuming to try to upload all of this data to the cloud to analyze it there.
The second insight was prompted by the sheer diversity and scale of what was happening at the edge. It would be impossible for organizations to manage their edge projects separately across individual use cases – this just cannot scale to the level prompted at the edge. Organizations would need visibility across all of the different hardware types and applications required for different use cases, just like they have today in the datacenter and cloud.
The combination of these two key insights led to the founding of ZEDEDA: the need to make edge computing effortless and intrinsically secure, and do this by creating an open architecture and operating system to enable this. Open, flexible orchestration is quickly becoming a common requirement and must-have for any enterprise that plans to do edge computing.
M.R. How has COVID changed your value proposition?
Said: We have seen two trends with the pandemic. Initially, some projects slowed down, because organizations had to figure out how to adapt to remote work. But overwhelmingly we have seen the acceleration of edge projects. Edge computing is critical not just in driving efficiencies that will lead to cost savings, but more importantly in building new business models and creating new customer experiences. For example, organizations are quickly identifying new use cases where edge computing will provide tangible benefits, such as remote orchestration to reduce the need for employees to travel to edge locations, self-service kiosks, and computer vision to maintain safe indoor experiences. ZEDEDA makes it possible for our customers to move new projects into production quickly – and remotely – and as a result, has become a critical piece of edge infrastructure for organizations.
M.R. You just closed an expansion to your Series A recently. What did you learn about the fundraising environment during the pandemic?
Said: We had just started the fundraising process when the pandemic started, and so we experienced the impact firsthand as we moved from in-person meetings with VCs to conducting everything over Zoom. Initially, there was a lot of concern within the financial community as to what the impact of the pandemic would be, but pretty quickly it became obvious that technology would play an essential role in getting through it. At that point we saw a clear shift which made it easier for us to raise funds.
Having said that, it’s still a tale of two cities. Fundraising can get done faster than ever when there’s a good opportunity but it also can be hard to raise capital, especially when targeting markets that were adversely affected by the pandemic, such as travel, oil and gas, etc.
For ZEDEDA, there was a lot of investor interest driven by the critical role we play in the digital transformation of our customers, and as a result we were able to raise an oversubscribed round that included some of our largest partners and customers.