Driven by Data

Start-Up Moves Mountains of Technology

October 15, 2015

“The Lagana Family and USIS believed in Fiber Mountain’s vision of changing how data center networks will be designed and deployed,” says M. H. Raza. “The partnership with them was invaluable in launching this Hudson River Valley company.”

That’s M.H. Raza, founder and CEO of Fiber Mountain Inc.™, a tech company based in Cheshire, Conn. While the 26-employee company isn’t as famous as Facebook—yet—they’re making dramatic strides in helping other companies manage their networks, security, and data center capacity.

Formed in 2013, Fiber Mountain has proven that they understand all the pain points of any data-driven industry and the escalating security and energy costs of physically managing data warehouses and control centers. And because there are fewer and fewer operations that are not data-driven these days, Fiber Mountain serves businesses of all sizes.

Raza and his team have developed systems that can efficiently and virtually retool or reconfigure massive data processing needs, resulting in real savings. Essentially, Fiber Mountain makes technology that will deliver more bandwidth with less latency and greater efficiency.

Under the Hood: A Foundation for Success
With decades of experience in the telecom industry, Raza, an engineer, was always eager to explore new solutions and solve problems in a fast-paced environment.

“A start-up, such as Fiber Mountain, is where innovation happens,” says Raza. “We’re a small, nimble company with hand-picked team members who can move mountains.”

“When you’re working in a large, incumbent company with existing products and legacies, it’s more difficult to break away from those products and address larger industry-wide trends.”

Raza’s work caught the attention of John Lagana at USIS, another tech and telecommunications company in the Hudson Valley. The Lagana family began a partnership, providing initial seed funding—venture capital—and introduced Fiber Mountain to Sterling National Bank.

“Sterling National Bank helped bring Fiber Mountain’s capacity to a new level of delivering services to clients,” Lagana says.

More Connectivity, More Bandwidth
Fiber Mountain’s network services appeals to any industry that’s on the edge of upgrading data systems as the demand for greater bandwidth, along with energy costs, continues to soar.

“The need for bandwidth continues to grow—with faster computers, reliance on phones and tablets, etc.,” explains Raza. “With all of these devices, we’re not only communicating better with greater bandwidth, but we’re moving beyond the function of communication to the function of day-to-day operational functions. Business applications, like ERP, backend systems and apps for day-to-day job performance, increasingly live on a company’s network,” Raza says.

“With this trend, a company’s data usage translates to massive data switches, routers, servers and storage—all of which require massive heat dissipation, energy control, and security. We can build data centers more efficiently that not only meet present needs, but that allow for growth. We all want to grow; Fiber Mountain offers growth but with less energy costs and hardware investment.”

Raza was driven by the mantra to work smarter, not necessarily larger. Partnering with the Laganas family, Fiber Mountain built a software product line that resulted in a simpler network that was immensely scalable to meet the needs of a business of any size, and one with built-in intelligence. The offering is a virtual data center with automated, software-driven processes using a fiber network that enhances data flow while reducing costs, power, and space.

“Fiber Mountain is transforming network infrastructure,” says Lagana. “Data centers are flooded with fiber optic cables, and we’ve developed an elegant solution to manage a massive amount of fiber that doesn’t require heat and is software-controlled. It’s efficient, adaptable to any scale, and inexpensive to run.”

Introducing Glass Core
Traditionally, fiber optic cables and their connectors in a data center must be changed manually to accommodate different bandwidths. With Fiber Mountain’s proprietary Glass Core™ technology, cables and fiber strands can adjust to bandwidth using software rather than a slow manual process. Fiber Mountain’s unique Alpine Orchestration System™ software reduces costly data center to a secure, affordable few screens.

“Think of this system like a GPS navigation center that figures out the best possible routes for your drive, particularly if there is a road hazard ahead,” says Lagana. “Our system is like that app in many respects, by managing connections with as little interference as possible.”

According to Raza, the team has solved a problem so many engineers and companies have spent billions of dollars and decades trying to resolve—how to build a fiber optic switch in the middle of a network.

Many companies are moving into an upgrade cycle, facing the challenge of enhancing equipment, and adapting to new traffic patterns. Fiber Mountain can work with companies as they upgrade technology piece by piece—or two to three server racks at a time.

“Our products co-exist with our clients’ existing hardware,” Raza says. “We work alongside that hardware and enable companies to spend half the money while gaining twice the capacity in that section of the network. It’s a compelling case: our clients have fewer switches to maintain with more fiber capacity. The more equipment we can help eliminate from the budget, the more money clients will save.”

Realizing Success
As a small company, Fiber Mountain faces tough competition against international vendors for multibillion-dollar contracts. However, this start-up was recognized for its ability to deliver pragmatic solutions and was named one of three finalists for the Best of Interop 2015, the leading independent tech conference in the United States.

“It was great to be recognized at Interop,” Raza says. “Innovation from a small company does command a place among massive competitors. When I realized I could never successfully compete with billion-dollar market leaders who were building bigger and better switches, I realized my success would come by eliminating the need for expensive switches in data centers altogether.”

“Our success continues to validate our business model,” Raza says. “We’re still a small company, so we will be able to respond to growth and the demand for our solutions as more people evangelize about their experience and realize how Fiber Mountain will benefit their budget.”

“We really appreciate Sterling working with Fiber Mountain. Their involvement helped innovation succeed over incumbency.” —M. H. RAZA, Founder and CEO of Fiber Mountain Inc.

Keys for Success
What can you learn from Fiber Mountain Inc.? Embrace innovation, especially if you are small: 

> Being small means you are also agile and responsive
> Handpick your people the way we handpick our engineers
> Expect dedication from the team
> Allow your people time to develop tools, as well as solutions and results
> Pay attention to the mistakes of others
> Avoid making a solution complex; trend toward simplicity

A Real World Example—One of the programmers prototyped a graphical configurator that visually illustrated the obstacles in the fiber pathway that had to be overcome. This tool has been foundational for building software for the company.

Fiber Mountain, Inc., Glass Core, and Alpine Orchestration System are trademarks and service marks of Fiber Mountain, Inc.