INTERVIEW | How Mike Power Optimizes Schools

It’s funny sometimes how an idea is born: a client opens up about his struggles with emailing a large PowerPoint presentation to a colleague in another office. The client wonders if anything can be done to reduce the size of PowerPoint files, while retaining all their functionality. That was back in 2001, and bright-thinking Mike Power (the “strategist”) and Andrew Molyneux (the “techie”) stepped in and soon released NXPowerLite, a commercial software utility that optimizes Microsoft PowerPoint files, reducing them to a fraction of their original size. By 2008, they have more than 1 million people benefitting from their idea. In education, schools and school districts—especially medium and large-sized districts—need effective solutions to reduce massive, clogged systems that crash or crawl. Teachers, students and administrators can benefit, and as Mike Power explains, they are beginning to already.

Victor: In your own words, why did you create Neuxpower?

Mike: We were running for some time before we created Neuxpower the software business. We initially worked as an agency developing technical solutions for marketing departments of large organisations.

We repeatedly saw the issues that large PowerPoint files caused clients and colleagues and it seemed like a problem that was not so easy for individuals to solve—i.e. it takes a long time to manually optimize a file, but it was an issue that computers should be able to make light work of.

In late 2001, we built a prototype PowerPoint optimizer and put it up on the web.  The same day we made it available a gentleman from PepsiCo bought a copy. He came back a week later and bought ten, and then a month later was back for another hundred. We felt we were on to something at that point so set about re-positioning ourselves as a software business. Since then we’ve sold over 1 million copies of NXPowerLite, which is great vindication for that decision.

Victor: What does the name mean?

Mike: I’m afraid there isn’t a lot of meaning behind the company name; it’s simply the combination of the two founder’s surnames—Mike Power and Andrew Molyneux. The product name NXPowerLite, reflects the intent of the first version of our software, which was to make PowerPoint files lighter.

Victor: What is your product? What does it do? What are the benefits for the education market?

Mike: The benefits are dramatically reduced storage consumption. A large amount of a school’s server space is typically consumed by extremely large Microsoft Office and JPEG files, with teachers and students creating more and more documents, presentations and images every day. Inappropriate choice of image formats; excessive image resolution or large blocks of data unnecessary for normal use of the file, all contribute to larger, more bloated documents.

Our software NXPowerLite eliminates bloated content from Microsoft Office documents, dramatically and permanently reducing them in size. Optimised files remain in their original format, retaining all their attributes and visual content integrity. They don’t need to be unzipped and there’s no need for special viewing software—so they can be opened and edited by anybody. In fact, owners of the files won’t even know they’ve been optimized, ensuring minimum support requirements.

“To date there has not been a single IT support call about optimised files.” —Antelope Valley District

Doing this immediately reclaims substantial amounts of existing file storage. On-going it works automatically slowing down storage growth and reducing backup requirements.

Victor: How is it unique from other similar products/services? What companies do you see as in the same market?

Mike: If you want to reduce data in your primary storage then there are a few options such as Ocarina or Storwize, but these technologies while effective require a significant investment, and because they most often involve hardware and software can take a fair amount of planning and integration work.

NXPowerLite is the only transparent and permanent data reduction technology available. It is a software only solution that is very quick and easy to deploy meaning you can be reclaiming storage in minutes not months.

Victor: When was it developed? What is something interesting or relevant about its development history?

Mike: NXPowerLite Desktop Edition was initially developed and launched in 2001. After 10 years and working with over 1 million desktop customers, we felt we had reached a tipping point with the safety of the technology. Our primary development focus of ensuring visual content integrity and safety of files led us to consider the technology for use on file servers resulting in the launch of NXPowerLite for File Servers in May 2010.

NXPowerLite is a lossy form of data reduction, so in a file server environment it was imperative that you could trust the technology to preserve the visual integrity of your files. Our testers optimise many thousands of files and carefully check the results—so you can confidently reduce file sizes without concern for impairment.

Victor: Where did it originate? How do you purchase the product?

Mike: We build all applications completely in house. An evaluation version of NXPowerLite for File Servers is available to download from www.neuxpower.com. The evaluation will produce a report showing you exactly how much storage can be saved on your servers. Licenses can be purchased directly from Neuxpower, or from most major software resellers. It’s a simple software download supplied with a perpetual license key delivered by email.

Victor: How much does it cost? What are the options?

Mike: It’s a perpetual license, with a mandatory first year maintenance fee. The maintenance covers full upgrade assurance and priority support. The total is $3,024 per server including annual maintenance of $525. Our desktop product is just $45 per person with bulk discounts available.

Victor: What are some examples of it in action?

Mike: Our first K-12 customer was Antelope Valley Union High School District. They had been using our desktop product for a few years to manually optimize particularly large files.  Following the release of our file server product, they immediately bought it so they could automate the process and expand its use beyond just the occasional large file to tackle all of their files. The district has been very happy with how effective the software has been, and they now plan to install it on their remaining servers.

Victor: Who is it particularly tailored for? Who is it NOT for?

Mike: Any school or district that makes extensive use of Microsoft Office and has a requirement to store these files will benefit from NXPowerLite. Particularly small schools or districts may find the price an obstacle to them getting a return.

Victor: What can you tell educators and other leaders in and around education about the value of Neuxpower?

Mike: Technology has been a great enabler in education, but where the available resources become scarce and quotas or restrictions are put in place out of necessity that has a detrimental effect on education. This is where our technology can help, by reducing the load and freeing up existing resources so that restrictions can be removed.

——-

Victor Rivero tells the story of 21st-century education transformation. He is the editor-in-chief of Edtech Digest, a magazine about education transformed through technology. He has written white papers, articles and features for schools, nonprofits and companies in the education marketplace. Write to: victor@VictorRivero.com

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One Response to INTERVIEW | How Mike Power Optimizes Schools

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