Ash Young, Co-Founder & CEO, Cachengo Inc

Ash Young is an innovator and trailblazer with over three decades of experience in the storage industry. Throughout his career, he has always been driven by a passion for innovation and a desire to make a meaningful impact in the world of technology. As a strong advocate for open-source software, he created the first open-source, open-hardware Network Attached Storage (NAS) appliance, the first unified block/file storage stack for Linux, and the first storage management software, innovating many times.

As the Co-Founder & CEO at Cachengo Inc., Ash is going against the trends and pioneering in Edge Computing again. His fundamental belief that it is now more economical to move computing to where the data resides is highly solicited, as it unlocks tremendous new opportunities with artificial intelligence. As an entrepreneur and a passionate programmer who still writes his own codes, Ash is committed to staying at the forefront of technological advancements, driving innovation, and making a lasting impact.

A Journey of Innovation and Impact

Ash has been a part of the storage industry for most of his life since he was in high school. He has worked on pretty much every facet of storage. Ash shares, “When I came up with the idea for Bento and Pizza, I was simply working to change the status quo 2U24 (2U, 24-drive) storage server from Supermicro that has become rather ubiquitous in the industry.”  When he finally built up Cachengo’s first prototype of 24 smart drives in a single enclosure, he was excited to show people what this new design could do. Mobile World Congress 2018 was coming up in a few months, and his idea of mining unstructured files to summarize the data there was less than inspiring. Tom Tofigh of AT&T suggested a demonstration. Ash followed Tom’s idea and demonstrated the new design by doing facial recognition locally on the drive, which became a hit. It literally put Cachengo on the map with every telco wanting to do a PoC with Ash and his team.

Fast-forwarding to the current scenario, companies generate massive amounts of information that become their intellectual property as long as the employees never retire or leave. However, Cachengo has set out to change this narrative with its new El Roi AI, teaching companies the knowledge they have amassed over decades.

Cachengo®: Pushing Analytics to the Edge

Headquartered in Huntingdon, Tennessee, Cachengo is the industry leader in incorporating machine learning (ML) capabilities into smart appliances to not only enable dynamic policies and artificial intelligence but also to dramatically cut power consumption. With an emphasis on 100% open source and reference hardware designs, Cachengo is changing the landscape for how we envision servers and storage at the Cloud Edge and for 5G. Cachengo’s mission is to bring high-tech manufacturing, software engineering, and other similarly outsourced jobs back to America and to the South.

How Cachengo’s Use of Symbiotes Can Change Edge Computing & IT Industry in the Era of Cloud Computing

Cachengo provides an end-to-end turnkey system that is based on its use of Symbiotes®. Symbiotes are solid state drives that function as high-performance servers. Sun Microsystems popularized the idea that the network is the computer. The premise behind this is that it is the network that connects applications and users. However, Cachengo realized that the real connection point is the data. Data is what computing is all about. Without it, there isn’t much to compute. Data has to be captured and stored; and this is typically performed on some of type of drive. While the rest of the world is busy migrating data from these storage devices to larger systems that can provide the computational capabilities, Ash thought about the growing complexity and size of data. Moving vast amounts of data is simply not practical any longer. He envisioned infusing computing capabilities directly onto the drives so that data could be processed where it is originally captured. This reduction in data movement could then drive further reductions in network bandwidth, latency, and even power consumption.

To further simplify this idea, Ash also considered the idea of making these Symbiotes easier to deploy applications and AI. While Cloud Computing and Big Data have created an industry out of writing massive amounts of code to interact with proprietary protocol stacks and libraries, Cachengo envisioned something more elegant. Inspired by the simplicity of Apple’s iPod and iTunes rollout of 2001, Ash and his team created something that would not require coding by its users, but could instead be deployed with a single click.

Tackling Challenges Head-on

For Ash, funding was the biggest challenge in his entrepreneurial journey. However, he acknowledges and bestows credit upon his incredibly supportive and encouraging investors. He states that if it weren’t for them, pioneering new solutions and setting a benchmark in the storage industry wouldn’t have been possible for him.

Principles behind True Leadership Success

As an effective leader, Ash has always focused on lifting people up. He moved to a remote part of the US to manufacture and keep up with China and Taiwan. Rather than just importing people there, he decided to train the people who were already there. A bold move that paid off. This remote area had farmers, English majors, musicians, construction folks, etc. to whom Ash and his team taught coding.

Moreover, Cachengo provides accommodation, especially to its university graduate team members and offers healthcare benefits covering full family to its employees. In addition, the company has designed a training and development program for its employees to improve their skills, enhance their productivity, and improve company culture. Likewise, Ash has created his own Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy to teach Cachengo’s employees the importance of failure in growth. Ash highlights, “Failure is an essential part of the learning process, and those who are willing to embrace failure are more likely to develop a growth mindset and succeed in life. Hence, we need to get back to encouraging people to fail more quickly so that we might learn from the mistakes.” Cachengo also encourages employees to train their co-workers, which provides them an excellent opportunity to learn and grow and to demonstrate their leadership skills. In addition, Ash’s daughter Aurora Beaulieu-Young, who heads up HR along with her team, has created a blueprint for helping employees succeed and get to the next level. This progressive manual allows Cachengo to scale its culture across the new employees.

Fostering a Collaborative Environment within the Team

Ash expects everyone at Cachengo to lead, make decisions, and make mistakes. He only faults those who do nothing. They’re covering themselves and ensuring there’s never any blowback on them for a decision gone wrong. These are the ones weeded out. If they can’t change, they’re gone.

“I would rather have a company of people who make a lot of mistakes than have a company of perfectionists who cannot do anything that challenges them or us. So, at the end of the day, it’s our people who come up with new things. My job is to provide the capabilities for them to inspire the rest of us,” asserts Ash.

Moving Forward

Ash is excited about putting an AI in every home that is truly individualized and serves its owner. He hopes to see his customers interact with their data via their voice or chat. The AI will learn what its owner wants and how he or she talks, done on-premise and not on the cloud. Moreover, he is inspired by the limitless possibilities that are out there and is looking forward to creating a future where technology serves as an enabler rather than a driver of change.

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