Posted on July 9th, 2012 by Ben Lack
Denis Yaro, of Servhawk, discusses his company’s platform to handle the increasing energy demand of data centers.
|Ben Lack||I appreciate your time today, I wanted to talk to you about the company and some of the recent work that you guys have done, and we’d love to start the conversation by having you tell us just a little bit about what you guys do.
|Denis Yaro||Servhawk is a software technology company. We’re based in McLean, Virginia, just outside Washington DC. We fall in an emerging category called Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM), in which energy-related concerns are, of course, a very important component. We are focused 100% on servers, hence the name, and as far as I know we’re the only DCIM solution provider that focuses exclusively on servers. Here’s a simple way to put it: Look at any picture of a data center and it’s always long rows of servers. That’s no accident. Data centers are there to support IT services for different kinds of organizations, and those services run on servers. Data centers wouldn’t exist if there weren’t servers. Those servers have increasingly become more and more inexpensive, more and more powerful and all along the way quite energy inefficient. Our goal at Servhawk is to bring that to the forefront by providing a set of analytics that allows an IT organization to understand where its relative efficiencies and inefficiencies lie and identify and quantify opportunities to reduce energy consumption and save money.|
|Ben Lack||For the clients that you serve, what percentage of their total energy bill ends up coming from servers and their IT infrastructure?|
|Denis Yaro||That’s a good question. The rule of thumb on this came out of an important report that got everybody’s attention a few years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency’s report to the Congress in 2007, which indicated that, first of all, there was a tremendous rise in energy consumption in data centers and a projection that would continue at a rather high rate and that servers, and very specifically volume servers, accounted for much of that consumption. There are, according to analysts, somewhere on the order of 35 to 36 million volume servers deployed worldwide. These are the really inexpensive servers that have proliferated broadly. Volume servers, per the EPA report, were found to consume somewhere close to 70% of the energy in the data center. So they are clearly identified as the culprits. In a nutshell, that’s why Servhawk exists.|
|Ben Lack||The company has recently announced the launch of a new cloud-based platform that focuses on energy analytics. Would you mind sharing with us a little bit about how it came about and what the offering is?|
|Denis Yaro||So let me start by exposing some sins of my past, if you will. I’ve been in the IT area for quite a while now and I have delivered a number of IT management solutions. IT management solutions historically are very expensive. They tend to be disruptive and intrusive to operations and hence very difficult to use. One of the things we wanted to strive for in Servhawk, right from the beginning, is to package our solutions in a manner that was exactly the opposite of that. We’re doing that by taking advantage of something everybody’s talking about today, cloud computing. What that really means is the ability to deliver solutions to someone in a manner that does not involve heavy overhead or expense.To date, we’ve delivered our technology as packaged services, requiring a good bit of hands-on consulting work to alleviate the load on the customer. We’ve now focused on packaging where you can go to the web, to our website, register very simply and immediately go to work without acquiring software, installing it, training personnel and those kinds of things. So basically the same kind of result that we’ve been able to deliver on a consulting basis is now packaged in a way that allows it to be done much more inexpensively and much more easily. What I’m really excited about is this opens the door to have our kind of solution in the hands of smaller enterprises who, otherwise, might say, “You know, DCIM solutions aren’t for me. They’re too expensive and targeted for bigger shops and so on.” We believe organizations with as little as a few dozen servers have opportunities to save on energy and cost, and now we can help them do that.|
|Ben Lack||How much is this service?|
|Denis Yaro||The service effectively prices out to a dollar per server per month.|
|Ben Lack||And how did you ultimately get to that price offering?|
|Denis Yaro||Yes that’s an interesting question, how did we get there? Well, first of all, we had to figure out a way to be able to deliver a solution profitably. So, we obviously had to establish our costs. Beyond that, we expect ongoing use of our solution over a long period. Our catch phrase is Organize, Analyze, Save. And we really think that organizing and getting a handle on what you have, how it’s configured and what’re you doing with it is a huge component in addressing energy issues, especially when it comes to servers. We think having an organized server inventory always available online to the people who need it delivers significant value, so users will want to continue having it supported on an ongoing basis. We model our customer as someone who sticks with us for the long haul. As a start-up business, we want to establish a footprint and have the opportunity to expand our offering to those customers over time. So, we want to be aggressive in our pricing initially and set this stage for building a longer term relationship with the customer that’s beneficial to both sides.|
|Ben Lack||Denis, why are you doing what you’re doing, and why have you chosen to spend your time in this space?|
|Denis Yaro||You know, there are a couple of reasons. It was driven, really, by users. I started delivering IT management solutions over 20 years ago. I’ve even delivered some rather noteworthy ones. I’ve been interacting with people on the IT side for a long time, and I think I understand what drives their needs. In conversations starting 5-6 years ago, increasingly people asked me about power. And I have to be honest, it had never come up before then. I mean on the IT side, everybody had been absolutely oblivious to the electricity component of running an IT shop. That started to change for very obvious reasons, budgetary concerns and also just the dynamics of those big rows of servers I was talking about earlier. I was intrigued by the fact that I kept hitting with questions I’d never been asked before, and I started educating myself on the area. It struck me that a lot of the things those of us who have been in this arena have been doing for a long time could be reapplied in an area that is very important to IT (and, obviously, is also very important to the nation and to the world), namely the need to be more energy efficient. When you’re an entrepreneur and the customer keeps asking you for something, the light bulb goes off. When that ties in with general concerns we all have, it’s even more compelling. It was – I hate to use this term – very organic to go down this path.|