#54 “Education to Innovation: A conversation with Mike Szumlinski of iconik.io Cloud Based Media Asset Management”

September 28, 2020 00:58:05
#54 “Education to Innovation: A conversation with Mike Szumlinski of iconik.io Cloud Based Media Asset Management”
The Workflow Show
#54 “Education to Innovation: A conversation with Mike Szumlinski of iconik.io Cloud Based Media Asset Management”
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Show Notes

On this episode of The Workflow Show, Ben and Jason speak to guest Mike Szumlinski, Chief Commercial Officer at iconik.io, about what it means to foster the growth of a product and creating a collaboration tool for media asset management in the cloud. Mike also talks about his background, working at PVT, and emphasizing the sharing of knowledge via blogs and education. The hosts and Mike discuss how to spot innovation through customer feedback and anticipating growth beyond the current need of a product, including how Iconik utilizes Kubernetes and how that fits into the future of cloud based workflows.
  • Mike recounts his history in the industry, from studying at MSU to working with Pro Video Tech, and eventually Cantemo AB. 
  • Ben and Jason discuss with Mike the importance of education and community learning in Media IT.
  • Mike discusses the values of ICONIK in ease of accessibility to other tools, open API, and the growth of the customer base in the last year due to WFH needs. 
  • Ben, Jason, and Mike dig into using kubernetes and the use of VMs (virtual machines) to better the ICONIK product and what it means for the next round of innovation in media technology.
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 <inaudible> hello and welcome to the workflow show where you can come to get some workflow therapy whilst listening to discussions on development, deployment, and maintenance of secure media asset management solutions. I'm Jason Whetstone, senior workflow engineer and developer at Chesapeake systems. And I'm Ben Kilburg senior solutions architect. It just speaks systems. We'll talk with Mike's and Linsky of Canto AB about their cloud based media, asset management and collaboration tool. Iconic. We'll talk about Mike's journey from studying computer science at university of Michigan, to working as a campus Apple rep to PVT, and then onto Canto. We'll ask Mike about his thoughts on education in our industry. We'll also talk with them about how to maintain that level of learning and innovation by assuming you're not the best and really listening to feedback and what success story is complete without discussing some of the bloopers. We'll talk about some of those too. Speaker 0 00:00:58 Before we get to that, we have a few quick things to ask of our listeners. First, you can reach out to us directly with questions and thoughts on anything at workflow show at <inaudible> dot com or on Twitter at Chessa pro. And if you enjoy listening to the workflow show, please subscribe to the podcast. So, you know, when the next game is on, all right, I'd like to kick off our discussion by introducing our guest Mike's and Linsky chief commercial officer of Canto AB Hey Mike, how's it gone? Not too bad. Great, welcome. Well, we've brought Mike into our episode today to talk a little bit about his background. Um, Mike has been in the industry for a while and, uh, I actually, Mike, I don't know if you know this, but I owe you a lot because of your PVT blog, PVT pro video tech. Speaker 0 00:01:43 One of the places we're going to talk about with Mike, there was a while back when I first started doing integration work, there was a blog that I myself found by Googling and it taught me how to do some pretty cool integration stuff. And really it was designed for people who were not necessarily, um, you know, had a background in coding or scripting or anything like that. So I kind of took each step and broke it down and explained what you're doing here. There was even a little bit of explanation of what the code was doing, and that was really, really helpful. So I want to talk a little bit about Mike's background and how he got into this kind of work, how Mike sort of leads an innovation in the industry, and we'll go from there. And then we'll talk a little bit about Canto and iconic as well. So Mike, let's start off with your background, like tell us where you went to school and what you went to school for and you know, how did you kind of get into this part of the industry? Speaker 1 00:02:36 Yeah, so I'm probably dating myself now by current industry standards. Cause I think I'm starting to edge into that medium old man territory back in these things called the nineties. I went to college at Michigan state university and I went to school actually. I started as a CS student. Uh, so my freshman year I went through my first couple of semesters as a CS student. And I sat in front of green screens and ultra sparks and imported headers that age and realize really quickly that as much as I like computers, I didn't like that. It was completely uninteresting to me. I mean, some of the problem solving was fun and that sort of thing, but it was a relatively rigorous and not thought provoking. And I said, well, I'm a total Mac nerd and had been since 1984, when my mom sat me down in front of a one 28 K. So I decided to join the media production side of the school because that was very heavily Mac based. I'm an audio guy too. I'm sure no shock. I think you guys know this, but yeah. Well cause, cause we're all audio guys on this industry. Speaker 2 00:03:40 Yeah. I guess we are the people who do this integration work. That's what we tend to find is that Speaker 1 00:03:44 We couldn't make money doing audio Speaker 2 00:03:47 Of course, but I mean on the technical side of it, on this sort of brain power side of it, I we've talked about this before. I think on the show, it seems like the whole process of handling audio workflows, handling audio equipment. It's a lot about like where do things come in? Where do they get processed? What's the input or output for me, it's always seemed like if you understand, um, signal flow that directly applicable to workflow design, it comes from here. It goes to here. It has to go through. Speaker 1 00:04:18 Yeah. I mean the first time you actually tried to build a signal chain when you got seven guitar pedals, that's when you figure it out because you put the delay in the wrong spot, things sound real nasty, real fast, you know, so yeah, getting into, and I actually went into it for audio production cause yet again, you know, musician and Hey studios and boards are fun and that sort of thing. And I got about midway into the curriculum of that and it was like how to be a radio DJ. And it was basically the lamest curriculum in the world. And so, uh, I decided, okay, well there's this whole new thing. That's digital video. That's just starting Apple has these things called FireWire cables that are making it accessible. Right? So at the time, you know, before that it was AB VBS broadcast, video board and linear editing. Speaker 1 00:05:06 And I was actually the last, last semester of Michigan state's media arts program that actually got taught linear editing. So the semester after I went through, they actually ditched the deck to deck and went straight into the world of final cut at the time. It was final cut to wow. And then there were a couple of media, one hundreds sitting around two and one old ABVD that crashed all the time. So nobody actually used it. You know, I went through all that and uh, one day a guy showed up and said, Hey, I'm hiring for this gig with Apple called a campus rep. I applied for the job. And so I got picked up for that gig. And I'm from Michigan. You guys have probably heard of the university of Michigan and you may know that they're kind of a large consumer of Apple products. Speaker 1 00:05:54 Yeah. At the time they had a single education systems engineer for all of the state of Michigan. He lived in Anarbor. 98% of his time was burdened towards the well relatively massive volume of purchasing that Michigan was doing. And so my sales rep basically groomed me before I even knew what was going on to be his se is like, okay, you're technical. I can teach you, you know, like the sales speak, you know, more than I do about the technology already. And you're 19 years old. So he start throwing me in front of audiences and the pivotal moment, I think if we go back and this will be the end of the lame college stories, but I was working for Apple as this campus rep and I had a sales kind of methodology course. Our instructor asked if anybody knew anybody that wanted to be a speaker. Speaker 1 00:06:44 And I said, I know a guy he's probably a down for excuse for him to sell a couple more IMAX to a couple of students or something along those lines. And he gets up there and then about 10 minutes into it, he's like, now Mike's going to give the rest of the presentation for you. And he had me sitting there with a DV camera recording the whole thing. And that was the grooming of like, and I was terrified of speaking in public. I didn't want to get in front of anybody. I was a typical engineer, right? Like let me sit in the corner and play with my gear and not indirect with humanity, literally a pivotal moment because essentially I not only had to off the cuff, go give a presentation because if I didn't, I would look like a complete fool in front of everybody. Speaker 1 00:07:19 And I got up and I'm shaking, you know, I'm anxious and the whole thing give the presentation. And then when I was done, I sat down and I wasn't dead and the world didn't burn down and nobody in the room cared. It was a bunch of other college students like me. They weren't like laughing at me or throwing things at me. It wasn't like a John Hughes movie. Right. It was pretty reasonable. And I think that was the beginning of the end, because frankly from that point forward, I was relatively comfortable speaking in front of people because it was the trial by fire. Speaker 0 00:07:51 Awesome. Yeah. So from there, let's talk a little bit about Provideo tech start that story. So how did you come to start that organization? Speaker 1 00:08:00 So I used to work with actually shortly after college and the same person that was my boss at Apple. He called me up one day and said, Hey man, I have this thing called a rep firm. And I'm like, what's that? Cause I didn't know I was typical engineer. He explained it to me. I'm like, still don't understand it. He's like, well, I want you to come work with me, go out on a road trip with them, that sort of thing. And I finally understood what a, you know, after a few days what a sales channel was and what integrators were and how they made their money. And because frankly I'd never used one cause I was the nerdy guy that just dug through the docks and did it all myself. Right, right. Long story short from that, I got to know, well, everybody on this phone call and you know, a lot of other people in this industry, uh, because functionally my job was to be a technical resource for the integration channel on a mix of different products, essentially all that goes through to say him and I split for various different reasons. Speaker 1 00:08:56 It's all amicable now, no big, no bad blood and went and worked in the channel for a little bit and came across the product that some of you guys may be aware of, uh, archi where P five, there was no representation for the entire United States, other than one integrator that was just selling it kind of ad hoc as they could. And I was like, this is a really good product. And so I had a discussion with the CEO and he said, well, I'm all ears. You know, how would you go about doing this? I'm like, well, I used to be part of a channel management company. So I think I know what I'm doing. Let's try it. So he flew over to the U S they're based out of Munich, him. And, uh, one of the other principals of the company, we sat down, laid out the whole plan and that was kind of the start of it all. Speaker 1 00:09:41 So yeah, from that point forward, that was the start of PVT becoming a distributor for media and entertainment. And I think the reason why it became a successful brand is I really looked at it. I'd sat on the customer side of things. So I had been a customer at a large company spending a fair amount of budget. They gave me way too much money for a 25 year old kid. I'll tell you that. In addition to that, I had worked at an integrator for a while and I'd worked at a manufacturer as a rep and I looked at kind of all those different seats. And I knew what I hated about all those different organizations. I knew what drove me crazy when I would try to pick up the phone as a customer and try to get information from a manufacturer or when I was on the dealer side of things and was trying to get like real information about how things worked. And so I approached PVT and said from the get go, we're actually going to know what the heck we're talking about. We are going to really focus on the products and knowing them at a really, really deep level and not as just a support entity, but really just to help grow the brand so that when somebody says, can you do this? It's not us looking at the PDF data sheet and saying, yeah, it says it's on there. So you can do it. It's like try it out and do it, make sure it works. Speaker 0 00:10:57 Yeah. The integration sort of came about as a little bit of an experiment to see what could be done, maybe, you know, ideas that people had or things that people were asking for. And you just kind of started putting the pieces together. Right? Speaker 1 00:11:10 Exactly. And the funny thing is, believe it or not, the pro video tech.org website actually started as an attempt to create a forum for systems integrator engineers. And so the.org site was more or less built as I want to share information about things that I think are valuable and cool, nothing else. I want to take this information and put it out there to the world. And if it's useful to you, cool. If I can help you out, cool. If not, Hey, no big deal, right? Like you don't have to read it. You don't have to look at it. It was honestly PVT got its name because I already own the domain. It was the lamest company naming ever in the history of mankind. Yeah. I mean, Speaker 0 00:11:54 And what I loved about the articles and still it's still articles on there that are fantastic. What I love about them is that they're structured in a way that if you already know a lot of the information about say Python or something like that, you can kind of skip past it and just get the basics. But if you don't really know too much, I mean, you do a pretty good job of explaining, like, this is kind of what you're doing here. And for me back then, back in again, it was probably for me around 2009, 2010, it was really helpful because it also helped me to know what to look for when I was looking for other resources. Speaker 1 00:12:24 When I was writing articles, I always looked at it and said, you know, I told you guys earlier, I dropped out of CS school, right? Like I made it through a semester or two and PHP. Wasn't really a thing back then. And Python and Pearl was, I guess, a little bit, but Python was definitely not a thing back in the day, but I'm a hundred percent self-taught. And the only way I'm self-taught is because there are other people out there that have helped me when I've run into roadblocks. And so I have that same mentality. And again, the site was there to say, how do I kind of multiply that a little bit? How do I help people even a little bit more without actually having to necessarily have conversations with them? Because if I'm going to put something together, that's pretty cool. I want the world to see that. Speaker 1 00:13:09 And God, man, I wish I had more time to write more on it. Cause I've literally got like 40 things that I've written over the years that somebody is using, you know, some integrator somewhere use to help some customer out or some customer somewhere use to solve a problem that are probably universally usable. And they are their hacks together by a guy that went to school for audio and video production. That's a sales dude, that's writing code. Right. But if you, if you take it holistically, you see Apple saying this to right now, but I don't believe writing codes beyond anybody's competency if they're interested in it. And if you're like a problem solver, if you're a puzzle, doer, something along those lines, it becomes actually really fun to kind of solve those problems and figure out how to close those gaps. And oftentimes you can do a whole lot with very little Speaker 0 00:13:57 Actually how I feel about it. It's pretty much hit the nail on the head for me. So you mentioned, uh, you mentioned P five RQ where a P five press store at the time. What other technologies did you rep at PVT Speaker 1 00:14:09 The tools on air products, which you guys are probably aware of? Um, a sonnet, uh, which is a pretty popular within the, the Mac and the creative space. So, you know, PCIE enclosure is back in the day, lots of actual direct attached storage, just generally kind of interesting tools on the fringe. And then obviously eventually can't demo came into that fold as well. Speaker 0 00:14:32 So we talked about PVT and sort of blog. What I heard you saying there was really, you chose products to rep that they gave you a tool that was able to be integrated with something else maybe that someone was using. Let's, let's talk about education a little bit. You went to school for CS and eventually, and actually, as you were talking this, I remembered I actually was going to major in CS and dropped it as well. So it's kind of funny, but there's no major for what we do here in this industry. Like integration, workflow, automation, that kind of stuff sort of talked a little bit earlier about the audio brain and you know, the signal flow brain. I don't know. Like I always wonder what our guests feel about, you know, should there be some kind of a major in this type of work, even if it's just like, Hey, here's how you do a digital asset management. Here are the basic terms. And what do you think? Yeah, I mean, Speaker 1 00:15:26 This is a big question, but I kind of look at, you know, formal education, at least university level education to be providing you with the tools to make the right choices and not necessarily teaching you the tools. Okay. Um, and I think I will give a shout out to my Alma mater because frankly they did do a good job of that. When I was going through media production, it was not, this is how you set up a media 100 timeline. It was, this is how a three point edit works. This is how audio balancing works. This is how a compressor works, right? Which compressor, it doesn't matter. This is how a tool and this is why that tool is useful. And then over time, your knowledge of the tool set, grows and grows and grows. And then you can get into a trade and a trade is where you can get specifically expertise on actual technologies to a certain extent. Speaker 1 00:16:23 But I don't believe that, you know, formal education actually has a place for that. I think trade school has a place for that. And there's nothing that says, frankly, you can't do one over the other and not still have a great degree of success. I think you have to look at it at a, in a way that works for you as a, as a person. Cause some people frankly, are just better off going tactical right on day one. But if you go straight that route and you don't look at it holistically about the tool set around the top, sometimes you get stuck in a rut and that's not the same thing about the education levels. I just think that that's what I've seen happen. You know? Well, this worked before, so it will continue to work forever. And that's not a fair statement we're in technology. So it's, it's a no brainer here, but just even in our lifetimes, very simple things that seem like they're not that long ago, we're all adults 10 years ago. There were some things that we're doing today that we are doing very differently. Speaker 0 00:17:19 Absolutely. And you know, I don't think that it's such a bad thing. I don't know some of what we do is so specific to media production and it seems like what's being taught in this sort of it space. The sort of a networking space is so much more around producing it generalists, but I don't necessarily think that I agree with you wholeheartedly that teaching the basics and teaching them the principles and the sort of high level stuff is great for formalized education, but it really comes to, uh, the applications of those, of those technologies and those principles. I think one of the reasons that I personally have empathy for users, editors, you know, people that are using these solutions is because I had to use them myself. I know what my pain points were. I know what my coworker's pain points were. And I know what they were asking me for that really helps you understand why people ask for the things that they asked for. Absolutely. Yeah. All right. So what has been some difficult points in your growth in this industry? Like what are some of the challenges that you've, that you've had? Speaker 1 00:18:25 I'm I'm still constantly learning. I've always had this, like it's two little mantras and one is know what you don't know. And two is, if you ever think you're the best, you're wrong, you know, and that's fighting your own humanistic ego a lot of times, right? Cause if you are actually pretty decent at something, a lot of people are like, Hey, you're pretty good at this thing. And then you eventually have to balance that with reality and those sorts of things. So for me, it's, it's accepting the fact that there are still plenty of areas within this business that I have room for growth. And then living with the choices you make, when you realize that you're not as smart as you think you are in some cases. Right. And for very specific examples, I mean, I can't think of anything right off the top of my head, but trust me, man, I've made mistakes, right? We all make, yeah, we all make mistakes. And sometimes they show up on a balance sheet and sometimes they just show up, you know, in your gut. But any way you look at it, it sticks with you sometimes Speaker 0 00:19:22 Show up until you have about five or six people looking at the problem together. And then it's all the questions start flying. And then it's like, Oh, you asked that one question Speaker 1 00:19:35 That just Speaker 0 00:19:37 Sure of the nail in. Speaker 1 00:19:40 I can tell you guys a specific story of a massive screw up I had. That was absolutely saved by, uh, my boy, Peter, who's probably gonna listen to this at some point. He'll know what this is. And this is at a relatively large customer is 10 plus years ago. Now I shift out to actually do an integration on the neck sand and I've done so many accents at that point. It was second nature. And for whatever reason, I built a pool structure completely wrong. And then we deployed and then we migrated data onto it. And then he had to go back down there two weeks later and expand the pool because we were short a couple of chassy's and he got there and he's like, dude, we can't expand the pool. I'm like, why you didn't do it. Right. And so I had to sit there as like kind of his boss at the time, eat Crow, figure out that I wasn't again yet the smartest guy in the room. And he pulled out an all nighter saved face that the world didn't have to know about that until now, obviously so way to go, Jason, thanks, man. Speaker 0 00:20:41 I had a pretty similar story. I was a, I was doing a firmware upgrade on a StorNext based sand and did not stop the volume before I started the firmware upgrade. Cause I didn't know that you had to do that. So luckily my, my bro, Brian Summa was available. I called him up and said, what do I do? This is like, I I'm totally. And he was like, Jason, take a deep breath. Did you take a deep breath? Yes I did. You, you may have lost data. I'm just letting you know at the end of the story, I didn't lose any data, but it was a pretty, uh, it was, it was a pretty tough learning experience. And it was one of those experiences, like you said about had I known what? I didn't know. I wouldn't have done that, but how do you know what you don't know? Uh, I guess you ask. Speaker 1 00:21:31 Yup, exactly. The, you know, learning is failing, is that right? Like that's, that's really all it is. It's, it's repeated, failing until you don't fail once and then you've looked. Yeah. But yeah, exactly. The one, one cannot go without the other. Speaker 0 00:21:45 Uh, you talked earlier about, um, selecting technologies and, and tools and toys that promote extensibility and sort of looking into the future. How can you predict in the industry? What kinds of innovation are really going to be successful? I mean, Speaker 1 00:22:03 It's difficult, right? Uh, I've had misses. What you really have to look for is it's a pretty healthy mix between staying engaged and staying engaged at all different levels of commerce. Cause when you're a very technically adept, sometimes you're not listening to the business reasons as to why decisions are being made. And then you have to start to balance those together. And that's to be fair, it's very difficult to do. Cause you're, you guys are probably in an okay place to do that. Luckily on my level in the company and the way I interact, I'm at a pretty good place to do that because my job is interacting with people most days. Right. But if your job is a tactical job, oftentimes you're not going to have that level of interaction to again, see the whole picture. So what ends up happening instead is you just flow through and you say, okay, this, this screwdriver bit doesn't work anymore. Speaker 1 00:22:54 I wish I had a better screwdriver bit. You might be saying, well, maybe a screw is not the right fastener there. Right. As opposed to just trying to find the right bit. And it's a completely different way of looking at things. So from a high level technology perspective, I'm constantly listening to the feedback we get on anything we're talking about and then looking at what that really means. So saying, okay, I can't do this. You can't do it because it's painful to actually do you can't do it because you literally can't do it or you can't do it cause you just didn't know how to do it. I can fix one of those quickly. I can fix another one of those relatively quickly. Sometimes the third one is my problem now to address, right? So I have to go make the product better. So I mean, I started harping on arche where five years ago to implement services because I knew that's where our industry is going. Speaker 1 00:23:50 And everybody said, nobody's using that right now. I'm like, dude, I know they're gunna, trust me. It's going to become the biggest thing in the industry. And it's going to do it relatively quickly, faster than you can imagine. And that doesn't mean that traditional things are just going to go away. But the ability to collaborate and distribute is just so rapidly expanded. Once you move into centralized compute and centralized storage. And when I mean centralized, I mean at a global level, as opposed to a local level, and that's what every business, you know, the more communication you have and the more accessibility you have to interchange information, the faster your business will grow. And I think that's universal. I don't think it has anything to do with just media and entertainment. But when I look at technologies, I say, okay, how does this solve a problem? Speaker 1 00:24:45 Yes. Okay. Obviously solves a problem. Otherwise it wouldn't be a product, but does it solve the problem efficiently? And does it solve it in a scalable way? Right. I like things that sit very, very comfortably in the middle because yeah, maybe it doesn't do the cheapest stuff as well as some of the really inexpensive tools. Maybe it can't do a few of the enterprisee things that, you know, some other tools can do, but if I can hire four more people and still afford the tool for the same price as the enterprise thing, now how much is that worth to a business? Because really, if you look at any business, people are your, your growth factor. It really is. Yeah, Speaker 0 00:25:25 Absolutely. And that sounds like a really good Segui segue into the next thing I want to talk about, which is just Canterbury and iconic. And you already mentioned that you started repping Canto at PVT. Talk a little bit about that. How did that relationship start and what ultimately led you to becoming the chief commercial officer Speaker 1 00:25:46 So hand in my heart? You guys can't see it on the camera right now, but this is a true story. Um, so I went to IBC and I went to one of the Apple partner technology briefings. Cause I was working with RQ where they were presenting as well. And I saw three different people get up and present this kind of variety of different products. And they all kind of did the same thing. They were all exceptionally cool, but I didn't know what they were called. And then I kind of, there was this little discussion afterwards and it was, uh, around the fact that, Oh, they were all kind of the same product. They're all just kinda white labeled differently. And so I was sitting around a cocktail table with, you know, the, the post presentation, snacks and drinks and talking about like, man, that last thing I saw that was super cool. Speaker 1 00:26:37 Like there's a couple of things that it could do that, frankly, there's nobody else in the market doing anything like that right now. But I don't know what it is. I think that like, I couldn't S nobody's going to sell that the way it is because nobody even knows what to ask for. And I just went on this diatribe of just complaining about how poor the commercial strategy was for this really like kick ass technology that I saw. And I'm standing around the table with three people I knew. And two people, I didn't know. And two, the two guys, I didn't know, we're just asking little questions here or there. And after I go through this entire thing and I am more or less just poo-pooed the entire thing, guy reaches across the table and says, yeah, my name's Parham. I'm the CEO of the company. You just were talking crap for the past Speaker 0 00:27:22 20 something minutes. Speaker 1 00:27:24 And so I said, well, my statements stand. But if you guys are interested in talking about anything, I'm always happy to help. That's my whole thing. Right. I like helping people succeed. If I think what they got is cool. And they said, yeah, we got a distributor right now. We're good or whatever, but you got some time to talk. We walked around the show floor, we spoke a little bit more about strategies, how we do our business. I said, but it's not a hard push man. If you're ready for it, I'll be ready for it. Assuming I don't find something cooler between now and then, and we'll take it from there. About seven months later, I kinda got a random message saying, Hey man, do you have time for a phone call kind of want to talk? And that was the beginning of the discussion for repping Canto when can't demo portal was the only product around. Speaker 1 00:28:09 So at that time the company was only four people. I said, well, I really like the technology, but the way I do these evaluations is I, I frankly you get me a copy of the software. And if I think it's cool after I kind of go through it and look at the docs you have and everything like that, I'm going to go out and you guys are going to train me on this deep. And I played with the software, I got it installed. It was actually really slick. But what really got me is when I got out there, I love being around people that are smarter than me. Cause that's definitely how you learn. And I was definitely the dumbest person in the room. Um, so from that point forward, I saw the promise in the company. I saw the promise in the product and we took it to market and we saw the growth from that. So Speaker 0 00:28:54 What about iconic? How did I Connick sort of fit into that portfolio? Speaker 1 00:28:58 So I conic really came from, you know, portal became pretty rapidly successful. And part of the reason that CA became successful was that the user interface was exceptionally clean and slick. And what would end up happening is we would have a lot of customers come to us and say, Hey, I really like portal. I don't have any Linux, SIS admins on staff. We're a three person, small office post production shop. We don't know how to set up a server alone, maintain a stack like this, but a tool like this is what we really need. And so I would say, okay, well here's a are great partners. They can come and help you with all that. And then invoice would show up or the quote would show up and they'd say we're a three to five person, small post production company. This really isn't in our budget for maintainability. Speaker 1 00:29:47 And, you know, inside Canto, we know how much it costs frankly, to maintain the product appropriately. Part of the growth strategy was pricing it fairly and not hamstringing ourselves by being too aggressive with that. The other thing we started to get asked was from some of our larger portal customers was portal's awesome. What we really need though, is some way to get outside of our four walls. We need to be able to manage larger areas, right? We need to be able to kind of link different discrete offices together. And while we could do it with portal, the story was often expensive and it was still the entire infrastructure laid on the customer themselves. And so in traditional media businesses where they're not web stack experts, that again became an expensive endeavor for them. So I Connick was kind of born about to try to democratize media management and media collaboration while also providing that democratization, not just in price, but in location, right? Not everybody having to necessarily be in the same place to get some of these tools. And the big thing was, it's gotta be easy, it's gotta be cost effective and it's gotta be globally available. And the only way you can do that truly is to build an actual platform, Speaker 0 00:31:09 Right? Yeah. I mean, you spoke to the, uh, the ease of even just standing up a, a small environment for someone to check out, you know, for a demo, uh, it's pretty darn easy to set up and even going in and creating metadata fields and things like that is it's not a really tech heavy thing to do. It gets a little bit more complex when you start looking at potentially needing to connect on prem storage. But if you really just want to kind of, you know, have a library of content, especially in the cloud, it's a pretty good solution and pretty easy to set up because of the subscription base model. You only really pay for the users that are logging in, uh, over a period of time. So that's, that's a, that's a unique thing. I think that's worth calling out Speaker 1 00:31:53 Well. And you know, we try to be transparent about all that too. Cause that's another thing that always bugged me in this industry was obscuring pricing for the sake of obscuring pricing. You know, like how much would you pay in certain cases? Obscuring pricing makes sense. When you have complexities in the pricing structure to be perfectly fair. If I put the portal price list up there, nobody would get it right, because it's a modular product with a billion different things. That'd be like putting, you know, the GM parts catalog up and saying, Hey, I want to buy a car. Right. It's going to, you're not going to come out with the right mix, but I conic it again. It was, let's just try to make it all easy, make it accessible, make it visible. And if we do that, right, it's going to kind of sell, fulfill if you build it, they will. Speaker 1 00:32:39 So sort of, I mean, it sounds crazy to actually believe that that could work because it's such a huge gamble, but that is what iconic is. There is a degree of, you know, spec that was coming from things we were hearing from customers, but we entered into building that thing and it took, you know, a couple of years before iconic, alpha was even available. And so you've got an entire dev team working on a product for years with, and it's a product that's bleeding edge. So it's not like you can go look at what your other customers are doing. Cause we're aiming ahead of the curve with this. So you are, you're, you're out there on a ledge saying, this is how we want it to work. Can we make it work that way? And what are the problems that we're going to run into and learning those problems as you come across them and everything. Speaker 1 00:33:24 But I think the core ideals of, of the company as a whole have never changed and, and haven't changed for either product. It is accessibility, transparency, and frankly, openness, both portal and iconic are built on completely open API APIs, which really, I mean, that's what made me really fall in love with the product is that I don't have to, when I want to do fun little things in the product, I don't have to go ask the product manager to implement some new feature for me. In fact, I haven't ever had to really ask for that for anything I've needed to do. I've been able to do it in the product. And then when we come up with cool new features, well that's fantastic. They just add more true functionality to the system, but for informational interchange and, and automation, you know, it's all there it's available. If you can see it somewhere in the UI, then you can manipulate it or get it from any other toolkit. Speaker 0 00:34:16 Yeah. Yeah. I have noticed that. So what are some of the things other than the ease of use, just in terms of the navigability in the UI and ease of setup, ease of pricing, what are some other things? I mean, one of the things that comes to mind is the sort of review and approved share capabilities. Speaker 1 00:34:31 Yeah. It's funny. The, the review and approve thing actually got bolted on in the last month before the original 1.0 release, uh, got put together and it got bolted on because we had, uh, alpha and beta customers that were testing it out. And they're like, this is really, really awesome. I wish I could do a review and approve. And we looked at it and we're like, why didn't we think of this on day one? Because the proxies in the cloud, it's accessible to everywhere all over the world. It can send emails. Like there's not, it wasn't a heavy lift. It was a little bit of UX design and, you know, building the kind of process three behind the scenes so that we can track all of that stuff beyond that. It wasn't, you know, it wasn't an architectural stretch. And that's the other thing that I've found to be really impressive about iconic and props to Michael and his team. Speaker 1 00:35:16 When you start to get down this kind of road of actually developing a software, especially software that's meant to kind of organize things and keep track of things. There's this thing called the data model, which most people have never even heard of. They don't know what a data model is. Um, but when you dig into what a data model is, it becomes so exceptionally important for the scalability of your product. Because if your data model is not designed appropriately, when you hit the maximum of your scale, you then immediately have to redesign a very major part. Speaker 2 00:35:50 Yeah. Yeah. So just for our listeners, let's talk just really briefly about what a data model is. A data model would be. So in your media asset management platform, you have something called an asset and that represents a record somewhere in that catalog or database. And then you may have versions of the asset. You may have collections, you may have segments, all of these different things, all of these different objects make up your data model, how those things relate, what their properties are and how they relate to each other. And other objects are all part of that data model. Am I on the right track? Speaker 1 00:36:23 Yeah, absolutely. I mean the data model is basically think about having 50 different Excel sheets and all of them have one column that has the same info in them. How do you, how do you make them all talk to each other and how do you do that efficient? Right, right. That's, that's kind of the, the idea there, because if you did it one big flat Excel sheet, well that works to a certain point, but then it doesn't anymore. And that's obviously a gross generalization of what's what's going on. But I think everybody that's listening is used Excel at some point and had more than three columns in there. Um, so the, you kind of get it. And what that has allowed us to do is when it's time to do kind of new big expansions of features, oftentimes it means very, very minimal tweaks to the actual kind of database structure and the indexing structure in the system. So it's really a lot of UX design or logic that's being done as opposed to like rearchitecture. And that means that we can get stuff out pretty darn quick. And it also, our performance has been able to maintain as we scaled our, our customer base has increased 300% since January. And I'm not sure if you guys were aware of that, but, um, you know, does it feel any different than it did in January? I don't think it does. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:37:36 Did not know that, but it's not a surprise. Yeah. So the fact that the platform was able to grow by 300%, I know it's running in the background on Coopernetties, which is an open source platform. Like you were saying earlier that essentially automates deployment and management of what, like a containers. Can you tell us a little bit more about how the platform was able to do that kind of significant growth and what about the platform makes it different in that way? That lets it scale. Speaker 1 00:38:11 Yeah. So here's the other thing that we did on day one with iconic. It was all right, we're going to build a platform. If we're going to build a platform, we already know media management really well. We have a really, really great media management tool and we understand how trans coding works and time code works and all that sort of stuff. So what we're going to look to for technology stacks is people are at scale, the technology stacks we looked at as the base for iconic, we set our bar at the, the Facebook level and the Google level. And we said, what are those companies doing? They have nothing to do with media and entertainment, but how are they hand, how is Uber handling a million transactions a second, right. And what toolkit are they using to accomplish those sorts of, you know, transaction rates and that kind of scalability. We looked to that kind of hyperconverged startup super world. That's that's going on. That's where Kubernetes came from. So Kubernetes is developed by Google, but it is open source and it is what they use to do their scaling. And it's based on what we call microservices, trying to dumb this down when it's a really complicated thing. It's not the easiest thing in the world Speaker 0 00:39:22 Doing a great job so far, Mike and Dave, Speaker 1 00:39:26 But generally speaking, what ends up happening is you have all these little tiny VMs and those VMs have very singular tasks. Speaker 0 00:39:33 IBM would be a virtual machine. Think of it as a server that runs in the cloud. That's not actually, I mean, at some point, I guess it's running on bare metal, but not, it's not actually representing a server in a rack somewhere. It is virtual. So it's like a dream of a server. Speaker 1 00:39:49 Yeah. And microservices are a subset of that because you're stripping down the OS to such a small level that literally it only brings up the things it needs to do. It's very small job efficiently. And then it communicates via the network to any other tool that it might need to do. And what that allows you to do. So Kubernetes is this what they call microservices orchestration. And it allows you to dynamically expand various different microservices. And those are what you call kind of horizontally scalable. So if some new customer adds a ton of content into iconic, with a ton of new metadata, we can expand the indexing pods so that they're doing, you know, there's more basically processing power for the indexing and search results. If they, somebody brings in a ton of new clips that require a ton of transcoding, we can fire up new transcoder pods dynamically, and this all happens completely seamlessly invisibly behind the scenes for the customers. They don't know any of this stuff's going on, it's just happening. You know, the system can scale up and scale down to be perfectly fair to during low load times as necessary without anybody on the other end, worrying about what's going on. Speaker 0 00:41:06 And to be clear for our listeners, this, what Mike is describing right now is, is how a lot of the other platforms that you probably use in your day in day out life are architected. That's how applications and platforms are being developed these days. You know, it's one of the things to love about iconic is that it's got a very modern architecture, you know, as, as compared to some other platforms out there that do similar functionalities. Speaker 1 00:41:26 And it's also interesting that it's, that architecture is notably absent for media and entertainment. Sure. Not, not completely absent. I won't say that by any means, but, uh, definitely not prevalent. Definitely. Speaker 0 00:41:40 Yeah. All right, Mike, so let's talk a little bit about the workflow automation components and iconic, you know, let's, let's be clear that I conic is a platform for me to asset management and collaboration. There are some workflows built in, there are some, some actions built into the platform, but one of the things that is good and also challenging maybe is that like some other media asset management platforms out there that do have like some pretty extensible workflow automation components, iconic has kind of, it's kind of bringing your own workflow. So, you know, they're the things that are built in really are proxy. We get proxies of assets that, you know, FFmpeg is used for proxying. So we transfer between storage, configurations, archiving to storage, configurations export out of the platform. Those things are covered. But if you have say like a, you know, metadata management tool or a process management tool, or maybe bring your own AI tool or something like that, that you want to bring in and integrate with iconic, you're kind of on your own. There that's, that's a challenge, but it's also great because you can kind of use whatever you want to do that. Right? Speaker 1 00:42:46 Yeah. So, I mean, I think our longterm goal to be perfectly fair for the product is to build in some automation engine stuff that said when we were talking about scale just a few minutes ago, workflow automation scale is also not the easiest thing in the world to do. Cause it's not like you can just run a server on prem and that can handle it. When I start to have, you know, hundreds of businesses with tens of thousands or more people start triggering automations, what does that load look like? Those queue times look like those sorts of things. So from an architectural perspective, that's been part of our slowness in releasing. It is because we don't want to miss step on that, do appropriate kind of due diligence around doing it properly. But we also didn't want to get the product out there and just have it be this closed box. Speaker 1 00:43:31 Right? Sure. The API itself is completely accessible and very well documented. I might add. Yeah. And it's, and we're a API first platform to which, for those that don't know what that means. That means that we actually develop the API. And then we build the iconic user interface on top of the same API that customers get access to and partners get access to. So it's not like there's any private calls. It's not like there's anything you can't do. Like literally, if you can see it in the user interface anywhere you can programmatically access, manipulate, read, write, change any of that information. So that's one way of doing things. But the other thing was we needed a way for customers to be able to trigger things from iconic. And polling's not the most efficient way to do that. So on day one, the day the product was released, we have these things called web hooks. Just the throw in the like, you're always learning when you never knew three plus years ago, when this happened, I saw the web books button in the early alphas. And I'm like, what the hell is a web book? Speaker 0 00:44:36 Is that something that Spiderman uses? I was like, I've never heard of this. Speaker 1 00:44:41 Sure. Before, you know, and I'd been doing rest work for a little while, but I'm not a developer. So, you know, and the guys explained it to me and essentially what it is is you can subscribe to things happening inside of the system and then have it send a message. Or if you want to really bring it down to the base level, it's a push notification. Right? Right. The system itself is capable of sending information out based on, you know, kind of these little subscriptions to what information you want to get, but that's all programmatic. So you can go create a web hook, say, Hey, every time an asset has the metadata updated, send the contextual information about what just happened to what we call an end point, which is rest and Jason, and this is all developers stuff. Yeah. But it's a URL. It's a, it's a web server somewhere that's listening for that information to hit it. Speaker 1 00:45:31 And because of that, now you can start to automate, uh, directly against actions happening in iconic. So when something happens, a message gets sent, your message receiver can then make a decision. And the beauty of this is this is something that most people don't really think about. They say, all right, well, what if it's not the message I want? And the response, which is the most obvious thing in the world that no one ever thinks of is you ignore it. So you can have web hooks that don't do anything, but, you know, Hey, I want to get updates on metadata. How do I do that? When I only care about one field? Well, you listen to everything. And the first thing you do is check if that field's there and if it's not, you ignore it. Oh, Oh, well, that makes sense. Sure. Right. So, so these web hooks allow you to do some cool nifty automations right out of the get go. Speaker 1 00:46:20 And then shortly after that, we added what we call custom actions. Custom actions work a little differently in the sense that web hooks are based on just users, actively using iconic and updating things and dragging stuff around and add an items and whatever custom actions require human interaction. It is a menu item that somebody can right. Click and select on an object or click on a collection and right click and send it, you know, to whatever custom automation you want. There's something really powerful that we've built in there, which is when you click that it can open or it can post. And this is getting, we're getting really into the weeds now, but essentially when you do a web hook, it sends that Jason, we talked about it as a notification that goes to a web server and it's kind of cloud to cloud communications, Speaker 0 00:47:01 Jason, Jason, standing for John JavaScript object notation. It is data. That is Speaker 1 00:47:08 Yep. And it is literally what every webpage you've used for the past five years is using to make it feel interactive. So anytime you went to a Google sheet or click the little red notification on Facebook or anything like that, what's happening behind the scenes is Jason's getting thrown around. But we also have this thing called an open context. And what open does is actually allows you to fire any URL handler in the context of the system that is opening it, which means you can actually build your own local, private applications that are not even in the cloud, or may not even be outside of your laptop. It could be an electronic app or an Apple script that runs locally. And you can handle all the contextual information about what object you're working with or objects or whatever your custom action is to that local context. Speaker 1 00:47:55 And then you have the full API to dig up more information about those and what this has allowed. A lot of our customers and partners to do is build like exceptionally cool custom tools around iconic that we would have never thought of in a million years, because they're so specific to their businesses. So, and I can actually tell you again with our kind of process of how we look at things internally, I'm in charge of the sales customer satisfaction team for all of can't demo. And I've got guys that are on the software development side of things and the guys in the marketing side of things. And, you know, sometimes they don't talk to each other, all that well, just because they live in their own little silos, but they have information that needs to get handed off. And what we had was a little project internally, where we're creating new videos for our documentation. Speaker 1 00:48:47 And I'm sure you guys have gone through the iconic docs. You see, there's a video here or there, we're trying to get more and more and more of those in there so that there's visual representation and those have to be created by somebody. And we said, okay, well obviously we've got the tool, the store, the videos, and that's not, that's kind of a no brainer, but we needed a project management and tracking system behind that. And we have a ticketing system internally. We use Redmine, it's a, one of the larger open source development project management systems out there. And, uh, both Redmine and iconic, both support web hooks. So what I did is non developer in me, who's not allowed to touch the actual products, uh, cause you guys wouldn't want to use them. I did, but I went and built essentially a full automation stack where you can go and tie iconic as a, an admin and create a simple placeholder. Speaker 1 00:49:39 And that placeholder has some metadata. It has information about the script of the video that's being created the location and link to the existing documentation so that you can see that, uh, and a title, nothing more than that. And we subscribed to that web with a web hook. And then there's a, and so we wrote a little Lambda function that listens to those. It creates a new ticket in our ticket system with all of the links back to the iconic object, and then also ties into the entire review and approve process inside of icon. So our guys that are doing the videos themselves, they just have in the project management system, a list of all the videos that need to be done, the guys that are creating the requests for the videos, they just go and create placeholders in iconic. And then the people that are actually in charge of approving that, get a review and approve requests from iconic, automatically in the email, any time somebody goes and adds a item, and then we track the entire thing in iconic, just like any creative department would, we can also revision because it focuses on revision control. Speaker 1 00:50:38 So in the future, we don't have to have multiple assets for the documentation we're redoing. If we modify the UI and we want to update the video, we can go back to the existing one, just add a new video to it as a new version and iconic. And that reopens the ticket and our project management system sets everything up it's it's. And that entire process I mr. Non developer guy wrote in about four and a half hours and it's under 300 lines of code. Nice. So the accessibility of being able to automate things inside of your business is not limited only to the developer crowd. And I think my favorite example of this too, is on the blog that Jason was mentioning earlier, the most recent article, because I haven't updated in forever is getting iconic to talk to Slack. And it's like four lines of code, really pretty easy exploring how the stuff works. Speaker 1 00:51:32 Once you understand how it works, you'd be amazed at how fast you can put together, you know, solutions. And if you really don't understand it and don't get it, you'd be amazed at how fast somebody can put it together for you. And I think that's the other thing with iconic that ends up being exceptionally powerful is yes, we are technically lacking in a traditional rules engine in the system, but because the product is so cost-effective that oftentimes customers come, they say, okay, cool. I do need to do this specialized thing. How would I go about doing that? And our integration partners will just say, we can handle that for you. And it's still going to be less than anybody else. It's one of the other things that are, Speaker 2 00:52:12 I love about it is that keeps us busy for sure. The one thing that kind of bleeds into some of these follow followup questions that we we've been starting to do with most of our guests. One thing I've been curious about, we've talked about the adoption being really wide over the course of the pandemic. What are some of the ways that you've been seeing people using the platform and some of the cool workflows, like you were talking about some really interesting examples of people building their own tools just for our listeners. And even for myself, I always love hearing stories about awesome workflows and cool tools that folks are building. Speaker 1 00:52:51 I've seen several smaller agencies just contract out, building custom uploaders for the agency. And what that functionally does is uses the iconic API. It's an agency app. It's a little, normally it's a little electronic app, right? Or something, cause it'll run on Mac or windows, no problem. And it already holds all of the author information for Iconix ability to upload, but it also allows all of that to be pre-organized forms, to be pre mandated in a very specific way, can manage renaming files based on pre mandated fields and things like, and so when you have contractors out in the field, delivering stuff, we've got iconic customers that say, Hey, here's your uploader app. And they just drag the files onto it. And then the app says, Oh, this isn't named right. You can't do this or you're missing that field. You can't do this, you know, check your email. Speaker 1 00:53:40 If, if you have questions about this sort of thing. So cool. And that's been, you know, obviously standardizing ingest has always been a problem. And when you can globalize that standardized ingest, the other one that I've, I've been seeing more of lately, which I think is a real slick is dailies. So you run an ISG on a laptop and you go out into the field, your DIT offloads, a mag onto a laptop, and then, you know, does initial shot cleanup selection and maybe flipping it and <inaudible> it into an ISG on that laptop. And what ends up happening is proxies get generated, proxies, get checked into the cloud. And now people, anywhere in the world can start to do organization tagging real shot selection, even proxy, rough cut editing before that high risk content ever hits a sand anywhere or gets transferred up to cloud storage or anything. And because it's coming in on an ISG, it's also globally checked some, which means that the process of getting it back into iconic is literally okay. When I get back in the office next week, I'll just hook it up to the 10 gig and I'll just copy it over to the sand. And I don't have to do any other work. There's no like massive check-in process. Cause all that work's already been done before the media ever saw. Speaker 2 00:54:55 Got it. Right. So for our listeners, the ISG is the iconic storage gateway, which is a small piece of software that can run on your laptop or it can run inside your walls on a dedicated server that does those things that Mike was talking about, that it basically says, I'm looking at this storage and I know what files are on here and I can transcode them and send them up and make sure they're checked some so that iconic as the platform knows what it is. Right. Right. And I mean, let's also be clear. It looks like a small piece of software, but it's actually doing a lot of really cool stuff in the background. And for sure it is, it is also facilitating all that transcoding that's happening. Yeah. This is one of the things that we didn't mention yet is that iconic is one of those really one of the other things that sort of sets it apart is the fact that because of these, you know, these ISGs that you can deploy as part of your on prem infrastructure or as Mike just said on a laptop, that's a way that you can get your on premise content up into the cloud using tools that are all part of the solution. Speaker 1 00:55:56 Yeah. And I think the other thing that's been really kind of interesting lately that I've been obviously doing some form of integration with media management platforms for God last 15 ish years, if not longer. And the traditional cycle for decision on moving forward with the product is based on like this long laundry list of things that it would need to do. And then coming up with this large capital budget to go make those things. And what I found really intriguing about iconic is that a lot of our customers don't necessarily buy it outright because they need everything it does. They start because, Hey, it's a great review and approve tool or Hey, it can manage our sand or, Hey, it's a great way to move stuff to glacier because there's no good option for that or whatever that one little thing it is right. That, that it does well, what's really crazy as if it gets adopted internally, if that that workflow ends up working, it's very rapid to see people just doing more and doing more and doing more and just kind of slowly expanding on it, which was never an option before. Right. The option before was, does it do, can I boil the ocean? No, I can't. Okay. I, I'm not using this tool. Speaker 0 00:57:11 Right, right. Build me a nuclear reactor. I need to boil the ocean. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for your time today. Mike Salinsky chief commercial officer of Canto, AB listeners, Ben and I, and all the people at Chessa. Thank you for being a part of our story. We love making the show and we hope you love it too. And if you do send us an email to workflow [email protected] or at Chessa pro on Twitter, we'd love to hear your suggestions for future topics, guests, or stories. Also please hit that subscribe button, wherever it is on your device. So you know, when to listen to some more soothing workflow therapy, and don't forget to share with your friends, I'm Jason Whetstone, senior workflow engineer, and I'm Ben Kilburg senior solutions architect, and Ben also records and edits the show. The workflow show is a production of Chesapeake systems and more banana productions. Thank you for listening and make it a great day.

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