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January 18, 2008

Liquid Computing Puts Data Centers in a Box


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Tom Kreidler saw it coming a long time ago:  the convergence of the computing and communications functions of data centers.  Five years ago, at Sun Microsystems Federal, he suggested the server specialist acquire a company that made communications equipment like switches and routers.  Later, at Juniper Networks, he suggested the company acquire a server manufacturer.  Neither company acted on his ideas.  Then, Tom heard about Liquid Computing, which is putting his vision into effect by packaging servers, switches, and even partial router functions into a single box—and Tom was quick to jump on board as President of Liquid Computing Federal, Inc.


Tom looks incredibly awake, considering he rises at 5:30 in the morning to ride horses with his daughter Carey on Friend’s Choice Farm, the Davidsonville, Maryland horse farm that his wife Mary Carolyn operates.


Tom says the Liquid Computing product reduces the real estate of a traditional data center by 80-85%, reduces the cabling by 90%, and energy consumption by as much as 80%.  (The numbers, he says, come from an independent source that has not yet released its findings.)  The reduction in cabling is particularly significant for those looking to go green with their data centers, because the shielding on cables is made of environmentally unfriendly material.


Tom believes the Liquid Computing system, which he says can scale to 3,840 core processors, is a good fit for intelligence agencies with a need for serious computing power.  He’s had “countless meetings” with the NSA’s small business office, which runs a half-day briefing and seminar for small businesses looking to obtain contracts with intelligence agencies. 


The company was started in 2003 by two Canadian engineers from Nortel.  Headquarters remain in Ottawa (Tom braved 4 degree temps on a recent business trip) and 88 of the company’s 100 employees are based out of Canada.  Tom joined a year ago, and has drummed up two federal contracts, one of them with the Army High Performance Computing Center.  (The other was an I’d-tell-you-but-then-I’d-have-to-kill-you situation, so we didn’t press for details.)  Liquid Computing also has two non-government contracts, one with another confidential client that does seismic modeling. The company is still funded by venture capital; Newbury Ventures was the leading contributor to $27.7 million in B-round funding in late 2006.  Tom says that Liquid Computing is headed for a positive revenue stream in Q1 '08 and is aiming for a '09 IPO.  At which point, if all goes well, his old colleagues at Sun and Juniper may be sorry they didn't get on board with Tom's idea.

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