CloudHealth Names Axbey CEO as Enterprise Cloud Spending Accelerates

Fresh off raising a $46 million venture funding round, CloudHealth Technologies is embarking on its next chapter under new leadership.

On Thursday, the Boston-based IT management firm named Tom Axbey as its new president and CEO. Axbey previously led Rave Mobile Safety, a Framingham, MA-based company whose software is used to communicate and share data during emergencies. (Rave recently promoted chief product officer Todd Piett to president and CEO.)

Axbey takes the reins from CloudHealth co-founder Dan Phillips, who will remain chairman of the company’s board. Co-founder and chief technology officer Joe Kinsella will stay in that role.

As businesses shift their data storage to the cloud, they often take a “hybrid” approach that uses some combination of private and public storage options. Companies like CloudHealth aim to help businesses manage their increasingly complex computing environments with software that analyzes their operations and provides recommendations that, ideally, will lower their costs, boost computing performance, and enhance security. CloudHealth has said its customers include Pinterest, Amtrak, Dow Jones, Acquia, and Sumo Logic.

Axbey joins CloudHealth as it picks up momentum. The five-year-old company says it has doubled its annual revenue in each of the past three years.

Now, CloudHealth intends to accelerate that growth with the help of the recent funding, which brought its total venture capital haul to about $86 million. CloudHealth says it employs more than 200 people worldwide. The company has said it plans to expand to 420 workers by the end of 2018, with about 360 of them located in Boston. CloudHealth will move into a larger head office in downtown Boston early next year, Axbey says.

He plans to focus on making sure CloudHealth operates efficiently and executes on its plans, which include growing its international sales.

“If you look at CloudHealth, what you’ll see is they’ve executed very well,” Axbey says. “There’s not any sweeping changes necessary. I think the challenge here is, how do you scale things in a very quick and rapid way?”

Dan Phillips

Phillips says he approached CloudHealth’s board and management team in March about finding a successor. CloudHealth is the fifth startup Phillips has been a part of, he says. He led the previous one, SilverBack Technologies, to an acquisition by Dell in 2007. Now in his 60s, Phillips decided it was time to take a step back from running day-to-day operations.

“I do look at [CloudHealth] as another six- to 10-year effort,” Phillips says. “At the stage of life that I’m in, I wanted to continue to be involved, but really wanted someone like Tom to take this to the next level.”

Axbey, a London native, has spent the past two decades at U.S. tech companies, including in the IT infrastructure sector. He was a marketing executive at American Internet Corporation and Quallaby, acquired by Cisco and Micromuse, respectively. He later held leadership roles at IBM’s Tivoli business after IBM purchased Micromuse.

Axbey joined Rave in 2008 as its president and CEO. The company’s data and communications software is used by thousands of customers, including businesses, state and local governments, and higher education institutions, according to a CloudHealth press release.

It’s an interesting time to get into the cloud management sector. The shift to the cloud has been going on for several years, but Phillips says the demand in CloudHealth’s early years was mostly from young tech companies born in the cloud era. Last year was when the company started seeing large, well-established enterprises move their data and other IT assets to cloud-based infrastructures in earnest, he says. Enterprise customers now make up 60 percent of CloudHealth’s sales, he adds.

“The volume is staggering in terms of the amount of cloud spend that they have, but the truth of the matter is they’ve only moved about 15 percent of their workloads to the cloud,” Philips says. “I think what we’ll see over the next five years is it’ll go from 15 percent of those workloads being in the cloud to I think about 50 percent. But the data centers aren’t going away, by any means.” Being able to manage the IT infrastructure—whether it’s in a public cloud or private data center—is a big undertaking, he adds.

That could mean an opportunity for CloudHealth to build a big business, but we’ll see. If things go well, the goal is to take CloudHealth public, perhaps as soon as 2019, Axbey says.

“I can’t control the markets,” he says. “The only thing I can control is building [CloudHealth’s] value.”

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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