I had the pleasure of Interviewing Greg Clements, COO at Simple Helix, about the company and its history, product offerings, and future industry trends.
[Kyle] Tell me a little bit about the company, history, and your role with the company?
Simple Helix was started in 2007 as a web hosting company. We leased Colo space in data centers around the world. In 2013 Simple Helix decided to build a world-class data center. This business strategy would satisfy our web hosting compute needs and open the door to a new business avenue. I was retired and sitting on a beach in Bon Aire. A leader of Simple Helix at the time approached me and asked if I wanted to come out of retirement and build a data center. That was the beginning. We'd meet and talk about what we needed to be successful. We knew the facility required high-security standards for the government contractor industry here in Huntsville, AL. We bought the property in April of 2016 and began construction of the facility in September. Construction was complete in June 2017.
After completing the data center, Simple Helix continued to grow in other avenues. We have added managed services, Cloud Compute, Compute on-demand, and DR. Being on the cutting edge of technology is exhilarating. I like to think of myself as the head fireman. I put out fires. A more politically correct title would be COO. The entirety of my focus is on the day to day operations and future growth of the business. One of my greatest joys, working at Simple Helix, is seeing our young talent succeed. I also love squeezing efficiency out of the system. I am always telling my team, "we have to be better than our customer's highest expectations."
[Kyle] What does Simple Helix offer in terms of products and services?
The more appropriate question is, what do we not offer. Our slogan is "from the keyboard to the cloud." We offer managed services, smart hands for colocation customers, bandwidth, connectivity, DR, and cloud services. We pride ourselves on the customization we can provide for our customers. We will take customers' compute systems and design a product to fit their business needs. We are not cookie-cutter because cookie cutter doesn't work in this business.
[Kyle] What markets do you offer your services in? Domestically, International, Regional?
We are currently offering services domestically with a focus on our backyard – The Southeast United States.
[Kyle] Tell me a little more about your thoughts on the industry. Where's it going?
As far as colocation goes – there's this growing need for power. The power demands for the future are more robust than I forecasted five years ago. Today's technology is smaller and more energy efficient. 1U servers today have 100 times the CPUs onboard. That demand creates four times the power needed for the same size server. We engineered our systems to provide up to 15kW in a single rack. That is on the higher end of the spectrum. Our next design will deliver racks with 100kWof availability. That is equal to the power you use daily for your whole house utilized in a 42U rack. Moore's Law says that computing power doubles every two years for the same amount of money. Some claim that Moore's Law is dead. I believe that quantum computing will keep Moore's Law relevant for the next 55 years. Our industry is always on the cutting edge. Therefore, we at Simple Helix have a choice. We can be on the cutting edge or we can be replaced. My job at Simple Helix is to be on the cutting edge.
[Kyle] What trends do you see in the industry? What services are hot?
Our managed cloud products are boiling right now. This service allows small companies to utilize the power of the cloud, which is a lot larger compute system than they could purchase on their own. Simple Helix wraps managed cloud with Colo to create redundancy/DR for our customers. We utilize our team of in-house experts to work alongside the customer. Simple Helix designs products to fit their individual needs. When complete, we can even manage it for them. All the redundancy and security smaller companies couldn't afford on their own is now accessible through cloud and colocation.
[Kyle] What are the most in-demand markets? Where are you seeing the most activity?
Security is driving the market. Jim, the IT director of a school system, can't keep up with the daily security changes like our SOC team can. We are continually revising our procedures to keep up with this ever-changing environment. Jim has one goal. Don't be on the news as a victim of a cyber-attack. That's where we come in to provide him with the tools and services to remain compliant and competitive. It must still make financial sense for Jim’s business. Through our facility, we can provide enterprise-level services at an affordable price.
[Kyle] Why, Simple Helix? What sets you apart from your peers in the industry?
Simple Helix was founded with a different edict. Our focus is on security and reliability. We did not skimp on purchasing high-end equipment for our facility. 2N+1 is not cheap. Our business mindset was different because we wanted to go after high-security, high-reliability customers. To accomplish that goal, Simple Helix must provide the best. As an example, most data centers will use dry pipe fire suppression. Simple Helix uses Novec-1230 Fire suppression systems. Novec-1230 systems emit a gas that attacks the fire at the molecular level instead of spraying water into critical servers full of data—losing the servers and their data. We invest in technology that will preserve these things. Our investors weren't interested in building a data center company to sell in 5 years. And they still aren't today.