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Columbia Business Monthly

Tokyo-based SIOS Technology Corp. positions itself for growth across the country and in Columbia

By Richard Breen

When Nobuo Kita looks around Columbia, he doesn’t see a lot of companies like his.

“I think we are very unique,” Kita says of SIOS Technology Corp., the Japanese-headquartered software firm that’s celebrating a 20-year history in the Midlands. “I’m committed to make our operation here much bigger and have us become a distinguished technology corporation in Columbia.”

SIOS moved into the M. Bert Storey Engineering and Innovation Center on the University of South Carolina campus a little more than a year ago, hoping to spur activity with the school. “There are two main objectives to being here,” says Kita, who is president and chief executive of parent company SIOS Corp. “One is to work with the people in the university to have them come work for SIOS. The other objective is to collaborate with the university to advance the technology.”

As a first step, SIOS granted the university $475,000 worth of licenses to use its software. Relocating its research and development facility to campus from its previous space in Lexington County has also boosted its internship program.

“It’s been going really well,” says Anthony Dillon, director of the internship program for integrated information technology in the university’s College of Engineering and Computing. “Currently we’re up to five internships and one person has already converted to full time.”

Two other job offers were pending as of December.

Dillon’s classroom is on the first floor of the center, while SIOS is on the fourth. He says SIOS officials stop by to explain the company’s products and culture.

“They’re always willing to spend time with us,” Dillon says.

It’s a step toward retaining university-trained talent in Columbia, where it can help SIOS with topics such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and cloud computing.

“Those need to be driven by a younger generation,” Kita says. “We are excited to have the opportunity.”

Next, Dillon hopes to get SIOS involved in the integrated information technology students’ “capstone” projects. Those semester-long exercises are led by a team of students who try to solve a real-world problem facing a business client.

“We had about 20 companies where we helped solve their needs” in the past year, Dillon says.

 Protecting access to data

SIOS describes its software as “high availability and disaster recovery solutions.” It allows data to be replicated across multiple servers, so that if one server goes down, the information remains accessible.

“Today, applications are so pervasive throughout a company, if there’s an outage, nobody can do anything until IT can solve the problem,” says Frank Jablonski, vice president of marketing.

SIOS software, which includes DataKeeper and LifeKeeper, protects businesses across cloud, hybrid cloud, physical and virtual environments. It is used by Fortune 500 firms as well as small and medium-sized businesses.

“Our customers are confident in our company, so as they’re growing their capabilities, they ask us to come alongside them and help them expand,” says Cassius Rhue, director of engineering.

That results in requests for SIOS to develop new software functions, which gets the Columbia R&D staff involved.

“We want the resources to be able to proactively add features to maintain high customer satisfaction,” Rhue says.

A State Science & Technology Institute analysis counted approximately 930,000 R&D personnel at colleges and universities in the United States. In South Carolina there are 6,223, including 1,656 in Columbia.

In 1999, a firm called SteelEye Technology spun off from NCR Corp., which had a facility in West Columbia for many years. In 2006, SIOS, which is based in Tokyo, acquired SteelEye and created SIOS Technology Corp. Throughout that time, it maintained a Lexington County presence before moving to the university building at the corner of Assembly and Blossom streets in mid-2018.

SIOS Technology has 500 employees at offices worldwide. In the United States, there are more than 40, with 27 in Columbia.

“I’d like to hit 100 as soon as possible,” Kita says of the U.S. headcount.

That would include more workers in Columbia, where it occupies 6,400 square feet in a building with neighbors such as IBM and Seimens.

“We’ve been here 20 years,” says Kita, who is based in Tokyo but plans to increase his Palmetto State visits. “We’re committed to doing business here.”

That includes raising its profile as a corporate citizen.

“That is very important,” Kita says. “We should be able to do more. We want to be a contributor.”