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Alumnus Jeff Ready is Tipping the Scale with Unique Data Center-in-a-Box Concept

March 12, 2013

By Steve Kaelble

Even as a Rose-Hulman freshman, Jeff Ready had an entrepreneurial spirit. “My intent from the beginning was to start a company,” he says.

             Jeff Ready
  .Jeff Ready

The type of company he would create was less clear. Whatever the product, it was bound to have something to do with Ready’s major in computer science. And, sure enough, he was in business before being handed his diploma in 1996, having connected with equally smart and enterprising students, including his longtime business partner, Scott Loughmiller, another 1996 computer science alumnus.

This collaboration has found success building innovative companies from California to Indiana that tap into the right market at the right time. The latest startup, Indianapolis-based Scale Computing, may be the most audacious venture yet.

“We sell data center infrastructure for small and midsize companies,” explains Ready, the company’s CEO. IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell are already players in this business, but Scale Computing’s new HC3 product offers a whole new way to set up a data center.

What makes HC3 so unique and creative is its data center-in-a-box concept. Ready draws similarities to someone purchasing a car. You could go out and buy the engine, seats, transmission, and door panels from separate companies. Then, you could assemble your own car.

“That’s what IT professionals do today,” Ready says. Companies piece together a complex data center with servers, storage systems, networking, and other components from a variety of manufacturers. With HC3 they have a system that eliminates ongoing licensing fees for the hypervisor, leverages open source technologies, and simplifies support with a single vendor. It helps firms grappling with virtualization, particularly the licensing terms imposed by some vendors.

“It’s easier, cheaper [by as much as 75 percent], more reliable, and it’s what you need,” says Ready, former Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Indiana Venture Center. “From a business perspective, it’s a pretty radical change in the way things are done…the response has been fabulous, and we’ve gotten rave reviews.”

Bill Gurley, partner at Benchmark Capital in Menlo Park, California, says, “Scale Computing is at the forefront of virtualization hyperconvergence. Scale is able to remove both the complexity and cost of CPU/storage virtualization with their HC3 product. The hypervisor isn't merely commoditized—it elegantly disappears inside the intuitively simple interface."

Small and medium-sized business storage markets have become hotbeds of innovation for the industry. Scale Computing is gaining a reputation for bringing technological innovation to the IT world, twice being listed by Forbes among America’s most promising companies.

Now with HC3, the company has raised $12 million in a Series D round of investor funding, scaled up to about 1,200 customers and 60 employees, with 15 to 20 additional hires likely this year.

Ready has certainly created a lot of things in a relatively short time. What about products he imagined creating back when he was a student, like video games? “That has yet to happen,” he admits. “Maybe one of these days…”

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Steve Kaelble is an Indiana-based freelance writer.