PCR sits down with joint MD David O'Coimin

Company profile: Kell Systems

Where, when and by whom was Kell set up?

Kell Systems was founded in 2004 in Marlow, Buckinghamshire by Tim Walsh, Sara Jones and David O’Coimin.

Is the company very different now to how it was then?

The company philosophy today is very similar to those early days small enough to care, big enough to be able; bold enough to try, good enough to succeed but the structure and sophistication of the company has changed immeasurably.

What was once a back room operation serving the UK is now an 11,000 square foot factory selling to the UK, USA, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France and soon Poland and Scandinavia.

It’s a revolutionary IT solution which potentially has a place in every office, and has already found its way into some of the world’s top organisations such as Google, Boeing, Rolls Royce, NATO, Hertz and the White House. Yes, that White House!

Can you explain the importance of server cabinets?

Kell Systems server cabinets are hugely important to the future of a sustainable IT strategy for any size company. They are primarily a replacement for a dedicated server room, preventing the costly build of these power-hungry static structures.

Alternatively Kell server cabinets allow companies to phase out or supplement existing server rooms for a greener, cheaper, more flexible and more reliable solution. They also offer an IT solution for listed buildings, dusty environments and locations where noise is an important factor and typical metal racks just aren’t appropriate.

Take, for example, a typical SME office of 60 people. The computing power to service it would demand a dedicated, purpose-built server room of approximately nine square metres with an air-con system consuming around three KW, requiring constant maintenance and offering no flexibility for moving premises or expanding.

An equivalent Kell server cabinet costs ten per cent of the build cost of a server room, will save a company 99 per cent of its cooling energy bill, reduce its carbon footprint significantly, deploy almost immediately and offer all sorts of flexibility. These quiet IT cabinets are a real game-changer.

So is it an area of growth?

It has taken a global recession, here-and-now concern about climate change and an oil crisis to bring it about, but there is a real sea-change in UK business in terms of seeking out responsible ‘green’ products and services that deliver quantifiable savings and short ‘total cost of ownership’ turnarounds, while contributing to helping the planet.

What was once seen as a niche product is now being recognised as an innovative and proven solution to the problems of space, energy, environment and noise.

Whereas Kell Systems used to spend the majority of its marketing bandwidth on education, now, as the markets awaken and opportunity knocks, our focus moves to partnership and collaboration, channel strategy and growing relationships.

What plans do you have for future expansion, domestically and internationally?

Kell’s selling modus operandi is changing. Our very successful general marketing campaign will remain in place, but the pull model we currently operate will in future be supported by a small network of select resellers operating in specific sectors, and with the appropriate drive and credentials to introduce and support our server cabinets to the markets where they are most needed.

The Kell factory in Somerset is expanding rapidly. The core product, the ComputerVault Pro, is mature and proven, while new products, like an acoustic case for an HP C3000 Blade Server, are constantly being developed. Kell Systems sits atop the crest of a wave of rare opportunity, positioned as the global leader in a burgeoning field of office IT.

And what are your plans for the UK specifically?

In the UK Kell has recently developed new marketing strategies, recruited additional key personnel, increased factory capacity, diversified its marketing message, and attended trade shows such as SmartGov and Channel Expo to meet new and existing partners and customers.

The coming months will see Kell focus intently on the UK market, appearing at more events, in new publications, generating new case studies with some fantastic customers, creating new white papers on office IT deployment and IT energy usage, making the most of its collaboration with PR partner TechnoPR and establishing exciting relationships with top quality channel partners and integrators.

Why should retailers get into server cabinets? Is there much of a margin?

The arguments for retailers to get involved with these new kinds of server cabinets are many-fold. They can be sold to your entire portfolio of existing customers ones with server rooms, ones in restricted rental situations, ones with a data centre and no desire to build network closets all over a building, ones moving premises, ones with noise issues, ones with dusty environments, ones who are energy conscious, ones who want to reduce running costs, ones in need of flexibility and ones with green requirements.

Then there are the new opportunities over a thousand new businesses are started in the UK every week. A retailer with Kell server cabinets in its portfolio will find itself not only making margin on them, but will be able to use the revolutionary rack enclosures to sell entire office-in-a-box equipment packages to new and existing customers, and to offer legitimate and reliable total cost of ownership turnarounds while improving carbon footprints and adding value to its offering across the board.

Where do you plan to be in five years’ time?

In five years Kell server cabinets will be the defacto name for self-contained office IT enclosures. Space stealing dedicated server rooms, serviced by power and maintenance hungry air-con units, will increasingly be marginalized by smarter greener solutions. Soon building planners and architects will stop specifying them in new buildings.

Already the seeds of these changes can be seen, testifiable by the thousands of Kell server cabinets sold to date across all sectors private and public and into all sizes, shapes and types of company.

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