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Steve Guilford ’80 is Rethinking Computing Technology

Jessica Rice ’12
A Webb alumnus is challenging the way people store files on computers with newly-patented streaming technology.

Steve Guilford '80 spent five years working on streaming software that allows users to stream media from a database. His patent was granted in August, less than four years after he filed.

Most people use the 50-year-old file system designed when people had very little data to manage and had everything stored on a floppy disk, Guilford said. The file system is designed to let users easily access directories that contain files, but the issue is that same accessibility can then be exploited by hackers, ransomware and viruses.

"What I've done is I've built a web service that streams from a database," he said.

Streaming is not just for watching Netflix or other videos online. Guilford described "streaming" as a catch all term, so this technology lets people access PDF files, photos, audio clips or videos. His software removes the mechanism that can be exploited by hackers and stores them on the Oracle database, which is more secure, he said. Then, users can access their files instantly without the risk of having them on a directory.

His software differs from something like Google Drive because the Oracle database "allows you to define, store and process complex information sets such as customer accounts insurance claims (and) medical records," Guilford said.

This newly-patented streaming technology is part of a larger framework in Guilford's Los Angeles-based company AsterionDB, which is expanding people's ideas of what relational databases can do, he said. Founder, CEO and CTO Guilford is focusing on three pillars: make the database smarter, store and access any file in the database, and stream media such as video images and PDFs.

All three pillars are part of a larger system being prepared for commercial release in January, 2018. He envisions businesses using the software and believes the fundamental nature of the technology will give his business an opportunity to make an impact on multiple industries.

Guilford discovered computers after Webb, but remembers there was one "old" computer on campus when he was a student.

"Really old," he said. "You'd see it in Sci-Fi movies and that sort of stuff."

Guilford went to Tulane University, dropped out after his sophomore year and has been working in the software industry since 1982. He said he turned to the Webb network for help and assistance during his career, noting each person helped in their own way.

Now, he hopes "to build up a company that changes the way that computer applications are built," he said. "AsterionDB has a unique and unprecedented approach that allows us to strongly differentiate from other technology companies."

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