Interview: Gísli Kristjánsson, COO Of Greenqloud

    We recently talked about Greenqloud, a cloud storage startup with a focus on IaaS (Infrastructure as a Cloud) services. We took the opportunity to get in touch with Gísli Kristjánsson, COO Greenqloud to get a better insight about the startup and understand what makes them unique. Gísli rightfully thought that it is essential to clarify the understanding of Cloud Computing, and before we post the short Q/A, we would love to share the definition of Cloud Computing as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology:

    Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

    With Cloud Computing already changing how most of the computing is actually executed, it has a lot more in store. We will now move over the questions and answers to develop a better understanding of Greenqloud and learn what makes it stand out.

    Arctic Startup (AS): What makes Greenqloud unique from other cloud storage services?

    Gísli Kristjánsson (GK): GreenQloud’s mission is to promote and sell easy to use, competitively priced, carbon neutral, cloud computing services to SMB’s, Software as a Service providers, Platform as a Service providers, consumers, developers, enterprises, the public sector and high performance computing users. The IT industry is set to become one of the largest polluters of greenhouse gasses by 2020 and we aim to be THE IT brand that stands for sustainable and scalable computing without the “green price premium“. We intend to beat the competition through service and technological innovations, strategic partnering and by cobranding value adding 3rd party services.

    GreenQloud starts as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Cloud with its first availability zone in Iceland. Iceland offers a unique location for delivering high speed networked computing services to Europe and N-America and has a cool climate that is perfect for running ultra energy efficient data centers. Iceland also has one of the most modern and reliable electrical power grids in the world but most importantly it has an abundance of very inexpensive and 100% renewable energy.

    As an IaaS cloud we offer virtualized and shared computing resources to eliminate IT CAPEX for customers and to aggressively lower their IT’s OPEX at the same time. The first products that customers will be offered are cloud servers ( Compute Qloud™ ), cloud storage ( Storage Qloud™ ), secure networking, data backup services, enterprise monitoring and other related infrastructure services, available on an hourly or monthly subscription basis. All future products will build upon this foundation.

    AS: Given that there are  countless other cloud storage services, how do you plan to rise beyond them?

    GK: GreenQloud runs it’s equipment 100% on Iceland’s renewable energy sources ( 30% geo thermal and 70% hydro ) and therefor supplies sustainable computing with massive connections through fiber to both Europe and the US.

    In the context of a $500 billion global market for IT services in 2008, the $5 billion market for green IT services [in 2013] may look like small potatoes to vendor strategists,” Mines said in the report. “However, we expect that the visibility and strategic importance of green IT projects will put them near the top of many corporations’ consulting agendas.(ref)

    As the consumers become more environmentally conscious, the Green IT market is growing. This niche market is ideal for GreenQloud, as our product offerings and sustainability strategy will appeal to environmentally thinking consumers.

    AS: With a lot of emphasis on being eco-friendly, does Greenqloud offer its clients or users some sort of reporting?

    GK: GreenQloud will be the first public cloud to collect and publicly display the entire cloud’s energy usage in a manner similar to Rightscale’s virtual machine counter on Customers will also be able to view their own energy usage from within the web-based interface or through web services. They can then use these figures in their own carbon accounting software.

    In addition, we will provide customers with a widget showing an estimation of the CO2 emissions they have avoided by using GreenQloud´s services. It will be possible for customers to put this widget on their websites, along with our registered trademark “Truly Green”. The trademark serves as a guarantee of cloud computing powered by renewable energy and certified environment management practices (ISO 14001). The service and trademark are intended to show the customer’s commitment to “greening” themselves and in this regard will serve as an assurance to their own clients.

    Both the widget and trademark will link back to a certification service on the GreenQloud website, similar to a VeriSign button on an e-commerce site. This also serves as a sales lead generator for GreenQloud.

    Finally GreenQloud will offer a standalone carbon-offsetting product that will provide customers with a way to neutralize emissions they produce through their non-cloud activities. GreenQloud has secured an Icelandic supplier of these offsets at a very competitive price.

    AS: What about the HPC market? Is Greenqloud planning to tap into this market as well?

    GK: The HPC market (High Performance Computing) has to this point been largely untapped by cloud providers. Therefore, GreenQloud has a unique opportunity to seek a slice of a market estimated to grow to a value of $21.8 billion by 2014. HPC is not Internet latency sensitive so GreenQloud’s reach is global. The report also anticipates the HPC market growing at a rate of 7.8% for the next 5 years.

    AS: Building a Greentech company – what are the challenges from building such a company to being profitable?

    GK: We have faced a few challenges such as the financial environment in Iceland that has been recovering from the massive collapse in 2008.

    GreenQloud has been so fortunate to have a strong concept and the team has both built a really strong product (GreenQloud’s public compute cloud) and have presented a good case for investors that have invested and supported the company through seed investment over the last two years.

    The Icelandic banking system is also being resurrected and our team has been working on a financing contract with Icelandic banks now for a long time. By presenting a strong business case, a solid product and a enormous growing market GreenQloud is one of the few companies in Iceland over the last three years to make a financing deal with an Icelandic bank.

    Now we are facing the challenge of driving up the usage of our service offerings and to get out of BETA as soon as possible, this will be a challenging time for the team and we look forward to face that challenge.

    Note: The Beta program of GreenQloud’s IaaS service started in august 2011 with select customers from our list of over 1200 of companies that have applied for the Beta or contacted us directly. We intend to officially launch the cloud early 2012 and market the brand heavily from then on.