Thursday, May 7, 2009
Interview with Ken Hubbard, InteliCloud
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Newport Beach-based InteliCloud (www.intelicloud.com) recently raised funding for the firm's next generation hardware devices. To try to understand what the company is up to, we spoke with the firm's President and CEO, Ken Hubbard.
How did the company start?
Ken Hubbard: About a year and a half ago, we spoke to a company called Vircas, which provides high definitive Internet television. Speaking to them and their CEO, they had a problem, which was they were having a hard time scaling and managing their services using traditional models--traditional network architecture, and traditional network equipment. They contacted us, asked us what we knew about delivering high definition video, and asked us what we could do for them. We developed a platform for them. They told us that when they first started working on their services, it took them three or four weeks to get the hardware up and running, and to get the service live--and even after that, it didn't scale, and wasn't very stable. We knew what the baseline was, so we went ahead and put together a hybrid platform, using some off the shelf technology, and some of our own technology, and gave it to them. Instead of three or four weeks, three days later, we were able to watch streaming video over the Internet form our platform. It scaled beautifully, and they asked us if we could build them a network. About four to five months after that, we decided to go ahead and put it into a chassis, and see if we could come up with an actual product. We realized that the product--our InteliCloud 360--could be used for all types of services, and there was the potential to stack both video and data services onto a single network and chassis, and scale that to multiple chassis.
What's your background?
Ken Hubbard: I came out of some larger companies -- a division of Itochu Corp; I worked with McDonnell Douglas in their Technical Services Division, where I had designed some software products, run some sales teams, and I have been in hardware for a while consulting and working. This just seemed like a logical progression. I've been following the industry for ten years, and trying to put together a platform which would abstract the hardware out of the way. There have been many attempts out there, but none of them actually did what service providers actually wanted.
You mention you use off-the-shelf parts, plus your own technology. Where's your core technology?
Ken Hubbard: This is part of what next generation equipment is all about. If it was just one piece of secret sauce, it wouldn't be next generation. What we've done, is provided tighter integration in the architecture. We have nine areas of technology, and three are off the shelf--standard processing blades, storage blades, and communications blades. We took three areas of software, which we have IP around. We also have three areas of hardware IP. Those six, integrated together allow the off-the-shelf components to do amazing things. It handles more customers per square foot, using less power and space.
How far along are your products right now?
Ken Hubbard: We are getting units out of the factory in about two weeks, when everything will go live. We should be installing units in a couple of test labs by the end of June.
Help us understand how this is different from blade servers from people like HP or IBM?
Ken Hubbard: It's probably a ninety degree turn. They use traditional thought and virtualization, and put together disparate pieces to build out a network. Even if you're talking about the newest equipment from folks, they have inherent issues that we call "traditional." The way they move data through the system, is they are required to use large amounts of resources for virtualization--those inherent issues slow the system, or use up resources. We don't do any of that, and in fact our process of virtualizing an entire platform uses up less than 3 percent of the resources.
It's quite unusual today as a hardware provider to find funding, how did you manage to find funding for your firm?
Ken Hubbard: We have a very strong team, as you are starting to see. We have a very exciting technology, and we're very humbled by the response we get from service providers. They're very interested in what we're doing, and are excited about the potential for having a new way of doing things. I think that the functionality that we offer them is something that is also different--they are used to look at single point solutions, where there is one part which can cause problems. Putting a single point solution into a network can take months and years to architect. We're multiple point, and take care of lots of issues in the network, the challenges, and simplify the architecture, which allows them to launch their services. On the power and cooling side, what a data center is, is an air-conditioned furnace. What we've allowed our customers to do is think differently. The amount saved on power and space just about pays for their system, which is significant.