(BIV) How I did it: Aaron Rallo

Founder and CEO of software company TSO Logic discovered how to reduce energy used in data centres

As seen on biv.com

Business in Vancouver’s “How I Did It” feature asks business leaders to explain how they achieved a business goal in the face of significant entrepreneurial challenges. In this week’s issue, Aaron Rallo, founder and CEO of software company TSO Logic Inc., talks about the tremendous amounts of energy wasted by data centres and how he developed software that reduces their energy consumption by more than 50%.

“This is something that I’ve been thinking about probably the past 15 years. Prior to TSO, I was a director and president and COO of PNI Digital Media. Prior to that I was with Fuji Film and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT). All that time, we had data centres. Along with data centres come power bills.

“Power is rising at a rate of about 11% year on year and the server count in data centres is growing at a rate of about 30% year on year to support this huge consumer demand for the storage of data. The IDC [International Data Corporation] estimates that 75% of servers that are powered on are actually not being used.

“Worldwide, [data centres] use 30 billion watts of electricity –equivalent to 30 nuclear power plants. Over 50% of that is wasted. On a worldwide basis, it costs about $60 billion to power and cool the installed data centres. When you look at that in terms of carbon emissions, the numbers are a little bit staggering.

“Data centres are built to support their busiest day or peak capacity. What our software is doing is evaluating your incoming workload so that it knows today is a really busy day, so we need 600 servers or 1,000 servers turned on. But as the workload tails off, our software will reduce the power state of those servers, so that you can draw less power when you don’t need those servers to be available.

“In some cases we can put the computer in a sleep mode. As soon as the demand comes, those machines go right back to full capacity. The other setting that our software lets you put in there is an auto buffer setting, which is the number of machines you leave on in reserve capacity, in case that spike comes in.

“The business was self financed for the first two years. We did a private equity round in 2012. The real momentum started in 2012.

“There’s a program through the BCTIA called entrepreneurs in residence. We worked closely with that group and they helped to mentor us and get us through some of those early phases, connecting us with potential investors, helping us refine our pitch.”

“In 2012, we started installing our first customers. ARC Productions out of Toronto is using it and Lux Visual Effects in Vancouver, Scalar Decisions Inc. We’ve demonstrated 60% savings at Lux and 56% at ARC. It’s over $80,000 a year saved.

“We wanted to make sure the software was solid before doing an official product launch. We wanted to launch with a working product that’s actually being used. Today we have about 2,300 servers under management using our software. We’ll be working on a European launch later in the year.”

To read the full story online, click here.