Business Class: Cottage Grove data startup helps Major League Baseball gear up for season | Business News

It paved the way in 2019 for Major League Baseball — whose Opening Day is just around the corner — to refresh its hardware across its 30 ballparks, and save some time while doing so.

Cottage Grove-based data startup Metify’s Mojo software allows MLB to manage and build each of the ballpark’s four servers remotely, said CEO Michael Wagner, adding the company didn’t originally intend to partner with the main purveyor of America’s pastime.

“Those servers have to have an operating system loaded onto them,” Wagner explained. “They have a very powerful graphics card that lets you see all the things you see on your television (while watching games) when you’re checking the stats. Somehow, you have to build the servers so that the applications can run.

“We don’t have to travel to the ballparks to stick a thumb drive in to update,” he added. “That wasn’t possible five years ago.”

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Founded in November 2019, Metify and its four employees have brought in around $1 million over the last 12 months for an idea that both Wagner and his counterpart, chief technology officer and co-founder Ian Evans, conceptualized after years spent in various sectors of the tech industry.

“I heard of Metify and their application through one of the Google partners we were working with to deploy … Anthos … in our ballpark infrastructure,” said Kevin Backman, senior systems engineer for MLB’s on-premises application infrastructure. “What Mojo allowed us to do was to automate the operating system installs on the … servers themselves. It’s a really time intensive process to do manually.”

“It could take you 30 minutes to install an operating system on a server … times that by 120,” Backman said, explaining that in tandem with Mojo, Anthos (a Google product) allows Major League Baseball to host the applications that run in the ballparks.

Years of expertise

Evans, who started out in the workforce in the hospitality industry, was not only the principal open source solutions architect for East Coast-based technology services provider World Wide Technology, but also a senior consultant at East Coast software company Red Hat.

He’s additionally worked for wireless communications giant Verizon as a member of its technical staff who researched cloud-related products, as well as Amazon Web Services as a technical account manager helping Fortune 500 companies.

Wagner, who said he has been in the tech game since he was 12, was formerly the director of Red Hat. He also served as the regional manager for software services at IBM, among other roles at the New York-headquartered multinational technology giant.

After observing areas of improvement in previous tech roles, Evans and Wagner spawned an idea that involved an “open standards way of provisioning bare metal” — a complicated process for installing an operating system directly on a computer’s physical hardware, whether remotely or in-person, in a way that’s open to all hardware and software manufacturers, he explained.

A resurgence

Some tech experts say that bare metal is regaining its lost glory, being a physical server with no software — just processors, memory and storage. But an advantage of bare metal is that applications can access hardware resources directly.

They point to the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the maturity of cloud-based software and the fact that some applications require more computing power than years past as the reason for the resurgence.

Now, with its executives using their various industry connections, Metify has 12 customers that range from wireless carriers, to hotel chains, to broadband suppliers and even bankers, Wagner said, adding he expects that number to grow over the next few years.

Mojo won the “Best New Technology” award, which was given at the 2021 Data Center World conference. The conference highlights and recognizes leaders and innovators in that sphere.


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