Solutions Through Connectivity

By Karen Rosen, ATLANTA TREND™

Jonathan Cox owes his technology career to a football injury that kept him cooped up at home.

“My computer skills didn’t really tackle me hard until I was probably 18 or 19,” says Jonathan, who suffered one hard tackle too many on the football field.  “It kind of forced me to find things around the house -- MTV only lasts so long when you’re doing a recovery. We had a computer and I started playing with it and got very enthralled with the process.”

His family has deep roots in medicine, and Jonathan would have been a fifth-generation physician. His grandfather started a shock trauma center after World War II and was a decorated war hero and his father is CEO at the Morsani Center at the University of South Florida, but Jonathan realized that he could make a difference in the medical profession from a different direction.

“I felt that my time would be better served in the IT industry,” he says. 

Jonathan is Chief Information Officer of Sago Networks, which owns and operates datacenters in Atlanta, Miami, and Tampa with interconnecting local fiber rings, country wide wireless networks, and multi-homed carrier grade data transport services. Sago prides itself on personal service, scalable enterprise configurations and the capability to comply with the strictest government accreditations.

“I’ve had a lot of aspirations to help see the medical community adopt technology to become more efficient and empower physicians to work with their patients more quickly,” Jonathan says. “They need to have information at their fingertips to be able to make decisions quicker and to guide their efforts, especially for patients who are under a stressful situation such as cancer. That’s very close to my heart.”

The Cloud Model

Jonathan started out supporting small physician groups and worked up to larger groups. Now Sago is working directly with a lot of medical software vendors within what has become the new Internet, the Cloud computing model.

“We’ve been able to introduce new product lines in the Cloud model, including our offsite storage and deep archive solutions for multiple industry verticals,” Jonathan says, “everywhere from the home user up to the enterprise customer -- from 5 gigs to terabytes of storage requirements.”

Jonathan spends half the week in Atlanta, where the former Scientific Atlanta building in Norcross is growing into a huge world-class datacenter, and half in Tampa. By staying close to both locations, he can build better customer relationships.

Sago strives to be the “host with the most,” meeting the needs of companies requiring cost effective and increasingly powerful hosting solutions.

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, where his father was attending the University of Utah medical school, Jonathan ten spent about 10 years in North Carolina. His family moved to Florida in 1981 and Jonathan went on to graduate from the University of South Florida.

After a mission for his church in Canada, he returned to the university and started a part-time career doing IT work, with consulting services on the side.

“Eventually demand got high enough that it pulled me into my own business,” Jonathan says.

The company he began in 1997 when he was in his early 20s became a $3 million a year enterprise.

Sago, which began in 2000, was a vendor line during that time frame. “I grew with Sago as they grew and decided it would be an advantageous move to team up with Sago,” Jonathan says.

A Perfect Fit

As a wholly-owned subsidiary with no debt and all the future expansion already paid for, Sago fit in with his goals.

“It’s a real rare gem in this economic situation and it’s definitely a competitive advantage when you’re trying to reach out to be able to help customers meet their overall objectives, which includes stability,” Jonathan says. “Especially in medical, that’s the last place you want to worry about economic constraints messing with patient data.”

He works with Miller Cooper, the founder and owner of the company, to engage the medical community with Sago’s new SaaS offering. Jonathan spent a good majority of last year getting Sago SAS-70 certified

“One of those strategies has included engaging all the strategic software vendors in the market and helping them move into the cloud computing model and delivering services through robust transport solutions,” Jonathan says.

His background is an IT hybrid, encompassing both software development and infrastructure support. He also has a good sense for business and being able to help decision-makers understand the key business decision factors around IT and managing their IT operations.

“I attribute a lot of my success over the years to educating customers on technology and the cost of the ownership of that technology and how to leverage that in the business world more effectively,” Jonathan says.

Sago is able to service a lot of the Sarbanes-Oxley compliance in the industry, while guaranteeing that it can deliver the cloud model under an audited and managed environment.

As a people person, Jonathan stays on the front lines. He still accepts engagements as an outsource CIO for companies as they are developing or building strategies.

By working in different verticals with various industries, he says, he’s been able to “apply other industry models that may not have been thought of otherwise.”

In the financial industries, Jonathan has helped build portfolio management software. One of the first customers in his old company was Outback Steakhouse, which eventually grew so large it internalized IT operations.

A 10-Year Plan

At Sago, he’s in a two -year stretch on a 10-year plan.

“I try not to look past 10 years because the market changes and it’s a shifting world,” Jonathan says. “I think of IT as the last frontier as far as untouched areas of ingenuity in America. There are plenty of other sectors that have that, but I think IT is just a baby and it’s still growing. “

He’s proudest of the delivery of the Cloud model, and believes the grid computing model is going to be an essential growth model of the Cloud. “I think grid computing is a key element of distributed and replicated data sets to make sure the data is well protected,” Jonathan says.

With the new systems that are becoming available, he’s fascinated by the potential to manage healthcare information in the next five or 10 years.

“The technology’s advanced now to the point where storage costs have come down and Internet hardware costs have come down,” Jonathan says. “We’ve gotten to the point where adoption of technology is allowing us to finally deliver true cost-effective solutions to individuals.”

Healthcare is only one area. “I think with the good American ingenuity of the free market, we can do a lot of good things together out there,” he says.

Jonathan believes that a silver lining to the economic downturn is that it creates innovative ideas. “When you’re riding along and things are OK, you tend not to spend as much time looking at how you’re going to change your operational status quo,” he says. “However, when you have shrinking cash flows, all of a sudden it’s your top priority.”

Sago’s innovation, as well as its strong financial situation, Jonathan says, allows a “deeper sense of competitiveness and day to day leads to a better bottom line for both our customers and ourselves.”

Sago has also been able to service its customers’ needs by not only providing them with the data center operations to run their equipment and protect it, but also allowing them to take office space next to their data.

That’s all in keeping with the meaning behind the company name. “I think what it really comes down to,” Jonathan says, “is when customers need it, we ‘Say Go.’”


Secrets to Success

1.    A will to succeed. Never give up when you set a goal. “There are times when you can see past the hurdle and you have to coax people to go with you,” Jonathan says.

2.    Time management. “Any successful person is learning how to manage your time efficiently. Even when you’re starting out in your career, it’s a key aspect to being able to manage your life.”

3.    “I’ve always used the motto: ‘Seek to understand before being understood.’ It’s been a talent of my own to understand people and where they’re coming from before putting suggestive ideas or concepts of behavior in front of them. The more you understand a person and where they’re coming from, the easier it is to engage them properly.”


Jonathan Cox is Chief Information Officer for Sago Networks. ATLANTA TREND™ expresses its thanks and deep appreciation to Jonathan Cox for sharing his thoughts with us. 



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