John Schrader manages our IT infrastructure and leads development of the technology solutions on which our customers depend. March 2021 will mark John’s 34th year with the company, and he’s busier than ever these days managing the intricate details of the rollout of Imaging Office Cloud Services.
We were lucky to catch up with him to talk about the past, present, and what he sees for the future of business content management technology.
Q&A with John Schrader, Director of IT and Cloud Services
Tell me about your responsibilities at Imaging Office Systems.
I’m the IT director and director of cloud services. IT encompasses all the hardware, software, phone systems, and infrastructure that we use. In my cloud services role, I maintain the datacenter, structure, servers, and services that we offer.
What did you do when you started?
I was a service technician. They hired me for computer work back then, but they didn’t have much in the way of computers. We sold microfilm equipment and shelving to store your papers. That was document management back then. We had these big 2-story high document storage units, you walk up to them, push a button, and they’d rotate up into the ceiling and stop where your file should be. As soon as we went digital, I fronted the digital stuff.
Talk about some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome in developing the Imaging Office Cloud Services suite.
About six years ago, I proposed that we should host a cloud server and offer services for some of our clients. The first part we did was cloud-based capture, and it took about eight months to get to a beta and about a year to get to a really solid product. The biggest challenges are the ideas and the design. The workflow underneath it is very intensive...millions of lines of code to get the product where it needs to be.
What are the most important factors to consider about a cloud services solution?
It’s the infrastructure and the security because without that those things, the rest of it doesn’t matter. To that end, all our cloud solutions are hosted in tier-4 data centers using the highest levels of encryption available.
Flexibility of the cloud—what does that mean?
The flexibility of the cloud means your resources are elastic. You can instantly scale your computational capacity to match your demand...and you can do it without having to own and maintain the physical assets, facilities, and staffing that goes with it. This freedom allows an organization to really marshal their resources to pursue their goals without worrying so much about the machinery and technology they’re using to get there.
What does the future of cloud computing technology look like?
We’re headed toward using blockchain technology to deliver secure cloud storage. With blockchain storage, there’s no single server—data is distributed across thousands of servers and PCs. Half of them can go offline, and it wouldn’t matter because the data is everywhere. This will absolutely be part of our cloud services once the technology is ready.
What’s something interesting about you or your job that not many people know about?
I’m a gunsmith in my spare time. I build long-range bolt action competition rifles. I’m also into 3D printing and anything CNC...you can cut anything with those wood CNC routers.
It’s 10 years from now, 2031. What will Imaging Office Systems be doing then?
We’ll still doing business content management, but everything will most likely be on blockchain. The thing that blockchain has going for it, which we need the most, is it’s virtually unhackable. You’ve got ledgers on thousands, if not millions, of PCs that all have to match up in order for the transaction to be real. You can’t fudge that many transactions. The encryption is too high.
Talk about some of the things you’ve learned on the job that you never knew before...
Well, that would be everything. One of my biggest achievements is that I’m a Certified Information Security Professional. When I got it, there was maybe only a couple hundred thousand of us...now there’s maybe around a million.
What makes your job easy, what makes it hard?
I have a great team; that makes it easy. I think the hardest thing is staying on top of the security and regulatory environment and the compliance requirements to which our clients must adhere.