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Curio AI deal adds ML capabilities to Wasabi cloud storage

Wasabi Technologies adds metadata technology by Curio AI in a new acquisition from Gray Meta Inc., the first addition to Wasabi's object storage since opening its doors.

Wasabi Technologies acquired a machine learning technology and will add its video metadata creation capabilities into a new object storage service.

Wasabi, an object storage vendor headquartered in Boston, bought the Curio AI technology today from GrayMeta Inc. in Los Angeles. Financial specifics of the acquisition were not disclosed, but the transaction includes Curio AI staff and intellectual property, according to Wasabi executives.

Aaron Edell is leaving the position of GrayMeta CEO to join Wasabi as a senior vice president of AI and machine learning. GrayMeta will continue operations with its existing media digitization and playback software.

The purchased technology expands Wasabi's offering, a lone cloud object storage product since the company was founded in 2017.

Many cloud storage services are in a race to the bottom for the lowest prices, the primary selling point Wasabi has pivoted its business around, said Scott Sinclair, practice director at TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group. Cheap object storage isn't enough to stand out in the market, so vendors like Wasabi need to find additional use cases such as cataloging services like Curio AI.

You can only survive as the cheapest option for so long.
Scott SinclairPractice director, Enterprise Strategy Group

"You can only survive as the cheapest option for so long," Sinclair said. "There's a limit to the addressable market you can [reach] with that."

Wasabi peppered with metadata

Curio AI uses ML to create a second-by-second index of video storage in Wasabi to find and identify faces, logos and other important data points to tag and create metadata. The service also contains the ability to detect and transcribe speech across 50 spoken languages.

The capability is trained strictly on the user's own data in cloud storage and not shared with a larger generative AI service or large language model, according to Edell.

David Friend, CEO and co-founder, Wasabi David Friend

Wasabi expects to add the Curio AI capability in the early months of 2024 to Wasabi and will sell it as additional service on top of the company's existing storage both directly and through the channel, said David Friend, CEO and co-founder of Wasabi.

Specific pricing for Curio AI has not been disclosed, and Wasabi is exploring adding more features to its storage capabilities, according to Friend.

"We don't have 300 different products to worry about, like AWS does," Friend said. " The first phase of Wasabi's life was scaling up and being at parity with AWS in terms of features. The second phase, hopefully, is to become the leader in cloud storage."

GrayMeta, which was founded by Edell in 2015, focuses on the unstructured data with which media industries deal. Such data made for a better challenge to test and build machine learning capabilities against, Edell said.

"Video files are the largest source of most complex unstructured data that exists, and these files get quite big," Edell said.

Working smarter, not harder

Object storage vendors that previously focused exclusively on volume have started to diversify as hyperscalers have attempted to eliminate those costs, said Ray Lucchesi, president and founder of Silverton Consulting. Capabilities like object detection and video metadata are helpful differentiators for storage vendors.

"Object detection is not that tricky anymore, [but] doing it across gigabytes of video is a significant challenge," Lucchesi said. "There's not a lot of primary storage companies out there indexing."

Wasabi isn't the only storage company building out the feature set. Backblaze, which began by selling consumer cloud storage but has expanded into more enterprise storage offerings, now offers an enterprise backup and recovery control suite for its storage.

The Enterprise Control for Backblaze Computer Backup provides many enterprise capabilities to Backblaze's storage, including permission control, compliance support and single sign-on capabilities. Enterprise Control is available for an additional fee on top of existing Backblaze licenses like Wasabi's plan to offer a new service on top of the storage at a slightly higher cost, Sinclair said.

Feature creep for what was previously seen as a slower, archival cloud storage is going to increase in the years to come, as these vendors will need to differentiate from the seemingly limitless portfolio of hyperscaler clouds and their competitors, Sinclair said.

Wasabi sells to media and entertainment industries, such as being a corporate partner with the Boston Red Sox , Sinclair said. The expansion to media metadata tagging makes sense and will likely grow in the years to come.

"The goal is not to put them at par with AWS," Sinclair said. "The idea is if I'm with Wasabi, I have enough value [that customers] don't want to leave."

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living in the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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