Nautilus Makes Waves in the Channel With Waterborne Data Centers

Nautilus Data Technologies is about to embark on its biggest year with the completion of its first waterborne data center at a Northern California Naval shipyard.

Nautilus recently became the first in the world to successfully launch a waterborne data-center prototype. It was validated in 2015.

Traditional data centers pump hundreds of millions of gallons of water to cool the facilities, while Nautilus uses the water below to cool the data centers, and all the water is recirculated back into the original body of water. The result is a potential 50 percent annual energy savings, the company said.

Nautilus' Kirk HortonThe vessels are designed to be set at ports and in areas overseen by national security, and the company is hiring U.S. veterans trained in securing sensitive material and data. The facility provides a computing data-center environment that can operate as many as 800 server racks.

Nautilus is anxious to recruit partners and has launched its NautilusDT Admiral Partner Program. Program benefits include: profitable compensation; flexible training programs; a channel and account team with marketing and sales engineering support; and a “revolutionary” approach to environmental sustainability, according to the company.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Kirk Horton, senior vice president of sales and marketing, talks about the company’s ambitious plans for 2017 and why partners should be anxious to jump on board.{ad}

Channel Partners: What’s the status of your first commercial Nautilus data center?

Kirk Horton: As we finalize our construction of the Eli M (the waterborne data center) – she’s out at the former Naval station at Mare Island – we’ve obviously been pre-selling. Our business plan calls for 10 total vessels to be constructed, seven of which are multi-tenant and three of which are client-owned or dedicated vessels. We have attracted over 15 committed customers to the initial platform. It’s a very ubiquitous set of customers and it showcases the fact that we are not a niche play. We are looked at as a mainstream colocation provider that’s offering unbelievable savings to these folks. This is mainstream technology that we’re using. We’ve combined the best of military-grade Naval technology with the best of data-center technology and design, and we’ve melded those together in an innovative way and with an innovative process.

We’re targeting the end of the second quarter as our go live date. We’ll be having customers ship their infrastructure, whether it’s their own provision cabinets or it’s our cabinets … which we will store for them.   

CP: You recently launched the Admiral Partner Program. How will it assist companies that work with you?

KH: We wanted to develop a program here to bring on partners that see the value to delivering these next-generation services to their customers. We’re allowing them to highly differentiate themselves in bringing unique value, if you will, to their customers. Our program is designed to …


… highly compensate folks for coming on board with us, and really being able to go out there and deliver something that’s unique in terms of value proposition, but at the same time, serving the status quo.

We’ve invested in our program to make sure the back office is there, to make sure the customer support is there, to make sure they have a client-relationship manager, and to make sure they have full access to our executive team. We are really providing them an open book to effectively go out and serve the community of clients in a full strategic partnership.   

CP: How many partners have you brought on board and what types of companies are they?

KH: We haven’t gone out there and done a huge social campaign and marketing campaign to attract partners to our platform, but we’ve signed over 20 partners into our program, all of which are highly respected companies serving the IT community. And we’ve seen probably over 50 percent of our opportunities coming from [the] indirect channel. We’ve really seen a large activity base from those partners in delivering those really trusted-adviser relationships to us. So it’s clearly working.

It really spans the gamut out there in the indirect channel, with strategic suppliers, technology partners, some of the master agencies, regional agencies, VARs, SIs, consultants and independent agents, which I think is a testament to the program. We’re clearly attracting a diverse set. {ad}

We expect to increase the amount of partners that come on board with us next year and we’re definitely going to kick into high gear as we approach our commission date. We expect to attract a lot more folks into the program and we hope that the benefit that we’re providing entices them to want to work with us as a strategic partner.

CP: Because your data-center offering is different, is your partner program different? How?

KH: We are very, very focused on the infrastructure side of the equation, so we’re a highly scaled platform for enterprise, technology and cloud companies that are looking to deliver their services to their customers in a more cost-effective way. Because we are a different platform, certainly the program is designed around that. It’s designed as a way to serve customers’ customers. It’s allowing an ecosystem of delivery. We’re bringing the ability for partners to represent new HPC technology, to go to their customers and deliver a new IT vision. We’re touching on new advances in hardware technology, new advances in transport technology; all these things are represented in products that our partners can sell in unison with us in an advanced infrastructure scenario.

CP: Tell us about Nautilus’ channel strategy. How do partners and the channel fit into your overall business strategy?

KH: We’ve built the indirect model into our overall business plan because we recognize that, from a delivery perspective, we are focused on supporting these partners and providing them the tools that they need to be effective in selling our solutions. So we’re highly vested in the indirect channel and we’re here to …


… take care of them. It’s a highly effective way to market our company, gain new customers and help those companies expand in the future. We’re here to serve those customers for many years and serve those partners for many years.

We expect, hopefully, to do as much or more than 40 percent of our sales through the indirect channel and I think if we accomplish that goal, we’ve been highly effective. If that number goes up, great.

CP: Is 2017 going to be the year your company really takes off?

KH: Yes, 2017 is absolutely a catalyst year for Nautilus. We’re expecting to go into multiple markets. The Bay Area is just the first in our multi-tenant data center strategy. We will be launching in the central region of the United States. We expect to expand in the central region, on the East Coast and internationally. Some of the international locations that are immediately on our radar are places like Dublin … London … and Singapore. These are locations that make tremendous economic sense for us in terms of being areas where there’s a large population of water, limited land resources and high demand for colocation infrastructure services.

The data-center market is constrained right now; there’s a lot of demand and there’s a tremendous lack of supply. So we feel that we’re coming at the market at a really, really good time, bringing capacity into these markets and the ability to expand rapidly in those markets to serve customer demand.{ad}

CP: What are the biggest challenges facing your company?

KH: The only challenge that we get is, “Wow, you’re building data centers on water,” so there might be this notion that I’m putting my IT assets on the water. Remember, we’re not floating out in the middle of the bay, we’re really an extension of the port, and the port is concrete with heavy machinery. We’re not on a pier somewhere. So I think once people realize that … when they come out and see it … that whole fear of the water thing goes away.        

CP: How will your business and channel strategy look in three to five years?

KH: We will always maintain absolutely critical focus on our channel strategy. It is built into that growth plan; it is built into that growth model. The way we see it affecting our strategy is as we deploy more and more data centers onto the market, we’re giving our channel partners many more options, both from a geographic perspective, and from a growth and expansion perspective. And we would love to get those numbers in terms of our business we get from the channel at 40 percent and higher. We’ll ever be expanding our delivery capability to our partners to make sure that we are absolutely supporting them as efficiently as possible for them to support their customers.

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