Big data firm WANdisco today revealed it had made “significant improvements’ to its business model as it forged stronger ties with technology giant IBM.

Sheffield-based WANdisco is a big data specialist which helps some of the world’s largest firms transfer information from servers into the cloud.

The amount of data in the world is set to quadruple between now and 2020 and David Richards, WANdisco’s CEO, believes this trend will provide major opportunities for growth.

The Sheffield-born tech tycoon recently revealed that he was spending more than £1m of his own money on a foundation to boost computer science in local schools.

WANdisco today said that it had increased momentum in the cloud, driven by its relationship with Microsoft, and it had also expanded its IBM OEM (original equipment manufacturer) agreement which had improved its royalty profile.

The company has offices in the Electric Works in Sheffield, California and China, Japan, Belfast, Australia and India.

WANdisco has been selected by a global automotive and truck manufacturer to deploy the company’s live data platform, WANdisco Fusion.

The company said: “Following an extensive pilot, the company selected WANdisco Fusion as the standard for hybrid cloud and cloud migration for Microsoft Azure where business critical data will reside in both on-premises and the cloud.

“The initial contract is worth $200,000 on an annualised recurring revenue basis and the project will start in October 2018.”

WANdisco’s total bookings for the first half of 2018 were $9.0 million, compared with $10.2 million in the same period the previous year.

Revenue for the period was $5.7 million and its adjusted EBITDA loss was $6.8 million.

The company’s big data product, WANdisco Fusion has continued to secure prominent new customers, particularly within the banking, insurance, and telecommunications sectors and the US Government through its OEM with IBM.

WANdisco said: “These customers are using Fusion on-premises for replication and disaster recovery. We have strengthened our relationship with our OEM partner IBM, which will allow us to efficiently and profitably service the on premise segment of our business.”

The company also gained three strategic deals with high profile Microsoft customers in the banking, semiconductors and retail sectors.

Commenting on the results, Mr Richards, who is the chief executive and chairman of WANdisco, said: “In the first half of this year we have made significant improvements to our business model.

“We have broadened and deepened our relationship with IBM, increasing the royalty payable to WANdisco, and have begun joint development work to support IBM Big SQL, which should increase our opportunities in the IBM channel.

“We also have begun to see a significant structural shift in the composition of our revenue base, from large, difficult-to-forecast on premise transactions toward more predictable, annual recurring cloud revenues.

“We see significant opportunities to expand our TAM in cloud and as annual recurring revenues increase over time, develop a smoother, increasing revenue profile for our firm.

He added: “We take confidence from the early traction we are seeing with Microsoft. To sign three strategic deals through this channel so early in our relationship underpins our belief that Fusion is the only solution capable of enabling organisations to seamlessly move large volumes of critical data to the cloud, without any downtime or service disruption.

“These deals are initially small in size relative to our on-premise, perpetual licence deals, as cloud customers buy for current capacity, knowing that they can scale up their usage easily as more data is migrated to the cloud.

“The revenue from cloud customers should not only be predictable and recurring but also grow significantly over time.”

Last year, Mr Richards revealed he was donating $1.5m to help children get ready for “real world” jobs in a booming, well-paid sector

desperate for people. He has set up the David and Jane Richards Family Foundation after growing frustrated with the Government’s focus on coding in computer classes, a job he believes will increasingly be done by artificial intelligence.

In Silicon Valley, where he lives, it is common for tech founders to spend their wealth this way, he added. The foundation is running hands-on courses to teach pupils how to use applications to manipulate and analyse huge amounts of data. Mr Richards said it would focus on fun activities, such as using technology to attempt to predict the outcome of a football match.

Mr Richards said he was delighted with the progress of the foundation, which is working witn pupils across a wide demographic.

He said he hoped to hire more staff at WANDisco’s base in Sheffield, which currently employs 75 people.