Dazzling WANdisco aims to protect the internet giants

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SOFTWARE firm WANdisco is developing new technology that will protect internet giants such as Amazon and Facebook when disaster strikes.

In the past, electrical storms and vandalism have knocked out these companies for hours, but WANdisco is developing a ‘Big Data’ product at its headquarters in Sheffield that will keep the world’s largest social and commercial networks safe.

WANdisco’s chairman and chief executive David Richards said the new product will make up a substantial part of the company’s future growth.

He was speaking yesterday as the company dazzled the market with maiden interim results following its flotation on the London stock market in June.

Investors piled into the shares, which closed the day up 13?? per cent at 347???p.

The stock listed in June at 180p, which means it has almost doubled its value in just three months.

Panmure analyst George O’Connor said: “The headlines are rip-roaring and include bookings up 57 per cent year on year, revenue up 53 per cent year on year, positive EBITDA reversing last year’s loss, a host of new global Tier 1 customers and a 114 per cent renewal rate.”

Revenues rose 53 per cent to £1.8m and cash booking were up 57 per cent to £2.1m.

Renewal rates were at 100 per cent and underlying earnings were positive at £215,000.

The company made a pre-tax loss for the six months to the end of June of £2.2m, although this included £1.67m in expenses related to the IPO.

Mr Richards said the new product to safeguard the likes of eBay, Twitter and LinkedIn will be “one of the most exciting things” to come out of the group’s Sheffield head office.

“This is a move into Big Data – you may never have heard of it, but it’s guaranteed you’ll need it,” he said.

‘Big Data’ refers to the ability to store vast quantities of data with ‘Apache Hadoop’, an open source, readily available tool that allows companies like Twitter to store such data.

“It’s one of the fastest growing parts of the computing world,” said Mr Richards.

“EBay, Amazon, a ‘Who’s Who’ of the internet all use Apache Hadoop, it’s massive.”

Travel website expedia.com and supermarket Tesco both use Apache Hadoop to make their services more relevant.

“With expedia.com, people with Macs get shown four star hotels and people with PCs get offered three star hotels,” said Mr Richards.

“If a woman buys nappies, Tesco will send her beer vouchers as her husband is more likely to drink at home than go to the pub.”

The problem with ‘Big Data’ is it can be knocked out.

“Two deer hunters in Oregon were bored so one challenged the other to shoot a wire cable overhead. He succeeded and shot the line, which shut down internet access and knocked out millions of people logging on to Facebook,” said Mr Richards.

Another example is an electrical storm in the US which led to a power cut, knocking out online movie service Netflix for three hours.

“We believe we can solve the problem,” said Mr Richards.

“We believe we can make these companies 100 per cent reliable and available. They will always be on. If we can stop Netflix and Amazon going down, that would be pretty cool.”

WANdisco is currently working on a prototype, but it isn’t making a commitment on timing. Mr O’Connor believes it will be available in the first half of next year.

“Hadoop’s fault line is its inability to work across network in different geographical locations. Consequently users, like Facebook, have to build ever larger data centres,” said Mr O’Connor.

“These platforms are a single point of failure so that if the master server overseeing the cluster went down, the whole cluster went down. Hence, we see the opportunity for WANdisco,” added Mr O’Connor.