Zella DC chases global niche

22/03/2021 - 15:00


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Perth company Zella DC has tapped in to a network of experienced commercial advisers to help it pursue growth in the data centre market, against competition from listed companies and global heavyweights.

Zella DC chases global niche
Angie Keeler with a micro data centre.

Perth company Zella DC has tapped in to a network of experienced commercial advisers to help it pursue growth in the data centre market, against competition from listed companies and global heavyweights.

Zella is a market leader in the manufacture and supply of micro data centres, which provide an energy efficient alternative to traditional IT server rooms.

It targeted mining companies initially before diversifying into sectors such as aged care, media, defence and government.

Zella has recently secured one of its largest contracts, with a North American pharmaceutical company that plans to install micro data centres at 70 sites over the next three years.

That marks a big step-up for Zella, which currently has about 250 units installed with 50 customers.

Zella was established 10 years ago by husband-and-wife team Angie and Clinton Keeler.

Its product looks like a futuristic fridge and is designed to help clients process data at the ‘edge’ of the communications network.

Ms Keeler said mining companies needed rugged, secure equipment, and that helped to set up the company for success.

“If is wasn’t for the mining industry and their stringent standards, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” she said.

Zella focuses on providing the base infrastructure, allowing its clients to customise the computer servers, switches and communications equipment to meet their needs.

The two founders have been supported by a number of commercial advisers over their 10-year journey.

An early investor was Glaciei, led by Perth-based corporate advisers Jane Garrett and Greg Riebe.

Ms Keeler said they helped the company to mature at an early stage.

That process included a clearer division of responsibilities between herself as chief executive and Mr Keeler as chief technology officer.

During the past year, the company has established an advisory board with three experienced executives: former Amcom chief executive Clive Stein, CV Check chairman Ivan Gustavino, and IP lawyer Nick Stamatiou.

Zella has also bolstered its financial capacity by completing a sub-$1 million capital raising from private investors.

Its growth has taken its product to six continents, with clients including BHP, Chevron, PetroEquador, Bariq Saudi Arabia, Gold Fields, Hancock Prospecting, Newmont and Austal.

Clients outside the resources sector include Brisbane-based disaster recovery firm ShadowSafe, aged care group Southern Cross Care, and Community Newspaper Group.

Its recent contract win in North America was particularly satisfying, as Zella’s competitors included global heavyweights such as Schneider, Eaton, and Virtiv Holdings.

Ms Keeler said this was a rare opportunity, as the supply of micro data centres in North America was normally bundled with larger IT contracts.

She believes the small size of Zella’s units, which are manufactured in Osborne Park, along with their energy efficiency, is a big attraction.

“They needed to fit through the door of a donga on a mine site,” she said.

The same advantage applied in metro locations, where the units can easily be installed in offices.

Zella’s micro data centre is part of a range of modularised data centres in the ‘edge’ computing market.

This includes the Zella Max, a containerised solution that can incorporate up to six micro data centres.

A new entrant to the modular data centre market is Osborne Park-based DC Two, which listed on the ASX last year.

It recently completed the deployment of its first transportable data centre at a wind farm in the Mid West.

Managing director Justin Thomas said it was about the size of a coolroom.

The data centre has been installed ‘behind the meter’, which Mr Thomas believes is a first for the market.

This location gives DC Two access to eco-friendly power at wholesale rates.

Mr Thomas said the company would focus on the roll-out of more modular solutions, which complemented its larger data centres in Perth.

DXN is another ASX-listed company focused on modular data centres.

It won a $700,000 contract last December to design and prefabricate a modular facility.

DXN was contracted by Belmont-based telecommunications company Streamline Connect, which plans to instal the data centre in the Pilbara for a global mining company.



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