Viridity Raises $8M More, Looks to Make Data Centers More Energy Efficient by Tracking Each IT Component

Remember last year when there was that flap about how much power it takes, and how much carbon is emitted, when you do a Google search? OK, so maybe you can do something like 15,000 searches before you reach the environmental footprint of a cheeseburger. But there are still a slew of companies tackling the broader problem of improving energy efficiency in data centers, and for good reason.

One of them is Viridity Software, a Burlington, MA, startup that has just raised $8 million in its second round of venture funding from existing investors Battery Ventures and North Bridge Venture Partners. The news was reported yesterday by Mass High Tech, based on a regulatory filing with the SEC. Viridity was founded in 2008 and previously raised a $7 million Series A round, as my colleague Wade reported, to develop software tools to help companies and organizations save money on the power bills for their IT operations.

An $8 million Series B is nothing to sneeze at, especially in this day and age where software startups are doing well to get follow-on funding of any kind. But what’s really interesting about Viridity is what it’s doing with the money. The company has what looks to be a unique approach to helping its customers get more power efficiency out of their current IT setups.

So I spoke with Viridity’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Mike Rowan, about the funding news and the company’s current plans. “Series A was all about building product, and the majority of the Series B is about going to market,” Rowan says. That means expanding the company’s sales, marketing, and tech support staff, as well as expanding the product line, he says. Viridity currently has about 30 employees; it has grown by 10 or so in the past four or five months, Rowan says.

Rowan understands the world of IT and storage software and hardware. He was previously the founder of Revivio (which was acquired by Symantec) and StorageCom (acquired by Vyant Technologies and then Mendocino Software). Before that, he helped start CLAM Associates, which developed products for IBM. Rowan first learned the inner workings of data centers as a systems administrator and programmer at Purdue University in the late 1980s.

Viridity is a bit of a new direction for him, but the opportunity to touch “every data center on the planet,” as he puts it, was too great to pass up. “It comes down to power or cooling at the core,” Rowan says. “How do you let someone live in their data center for longer?”

The answer, according to Viridity, is to understand at a detailed level how much power each IT component—an individual server or a given software application—consumes in a company. And then connect that power consumption to the company’s specific business operations. Instead of just being able to track the amount of power a given rack of servers uses, for example, Viridity’s software can tell you how much power a given app is costing you, so you can balance that against the business impact of that app. That approach seems to differentiate the startup from other players in data center monitoring and management, such as Schneider Electric, Eaton, Liebert, Modius, and TrendPoint Systems.

“Most customers are using 30 to 50 percent more power than they need to,” says Rowan. Saving that money on their power bill means they can use it for other important things like operating expenses—or even being able to retain an extra employee, for example.

So far, Viridity’s customers are mostly small to medium-size companies, ranging from hedge funds and financial services firms to hospitals, multimedia broadcasting companies, and larger organizations like the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Meanwhile, Viridity makes its money through a subscription model. “It’s about who can deploy the product and have huge gains, and not have to integrate with 74 other things,” Rowan says.

Although its path seems promising, Viridity faces the same challenge that most IT management startups face. Namely, proving that it saves customers enough money to justify learning (and paying for) new software. A more specific challenge to energy efficiency is that in most companies, the power budget is controlled by a facilities group, while the IT department may not care much about power until they run out of it, Rowan says. Viridity is trying to bring those two groups together that speak different languages, he says.

My take is that as long as Viridity’s software is easy to use, works well, and is able to cut through the noise of IT management, the startup should do well and do good.

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