Made in New Zealand: Kauricone's tiny servers find niches and channels

Made in New Zealand: Kauricone's tiny servers find niches and channels

OSS Group signs up as Kauricone's first integration partner.

Mike Milne (Kauricone)

Mike Milne (Kauricone)

Credit: Supplied

There isn't a lot of IT hardware made in New Zealand any more. The days when local PC and server assemblers competed strongly with the large multinational brands are gone.

The main reason for that is the products mostly became commodities. As prices fell, scale became the key to success. Global scale mainly.

But innovative local companies, such as Auckland-based Kauricone, are still entering the fray and creating category-challenging devices. 

Kauricone offers three compact servers models based on iconic, UK-designed ARM processors: an application server, IoT server and a cluster server. It is also developing channels, teaming up with its first integration partner, OSS Group, as part of its go-to market.

While Kauricone's first commercial product was launched in 2020, founder Mike Milne had been working with ARM processors for going on five years.

"We've always been interested in low-power devices," Milne said. "We really didn't focus on Intel and AMD. We focused on anything to do with efficiency and efficiency for us is RISC processors -- reduced instruction sets -- whereas Intel and AMD are complex, use more power and require a whole lot more complexity."

Milne is also striving to create a fully circular business model where servers are returned at their end-of-life to be be redeployed rather than sent to landfill.

“Building efficient technology, while reducing our impact on the planet has never been more important, and this requires us to challenge convention," he said.

Kauricone's IoT server.Credit: Supplied
Kauricone's IoT server.

ARM is best known for providing many of the processors found in modern smartphones, tablets and other devices but originally became famous in the UK for powering the iconic Acorn and Commodore devices. Its RISC-based processors are both powerful and highly energy efficient. 

"There is a genuine case to be made for putting ARM in the datacentre assuming your applications are portable onto ARM," said OSS Group managing director Ian Soffe, who has known Milne since the early 1990s.

A lot of off-the-shelf applications may not be portable but for organisations developing and running their own applications or for open, portable and microservices-based applications, ARM fitted the bill.

"There are heaps of use-cases that people could put these things to," Soffe said. "The market is in a time of transition and IoT is a good example on top of that where people are finding new ways of doing things."

Kauricone's IoT server is designed to collect and process data from a wide array of industrial sensor and image capturing devices.

Soffe said if a customer was looking for an edge device to do data collection and maybe some on-site calculations remote from the datacentre then, with the right software and integrations, Kauricone's small footprint IoT server with its low power draw fitted such use-cases.

While RFID tags were being used to track livestock movements, for instance, IoT backed with low power draw distributed servers could be deployed with cameras to gauge and monitor the quality of pasture and to guide management with actionable data, Soffe suggested.

Kauricone's application servers, meanwhile, only draw from six to ten watts, minimising their reliance on expensive UPS’ and generators. Their smaller physical footprint and lower operating temperatures also reduce space, power and cooling costs in the datacentre.

The company's high density cluster servers added grunt to the datacentre, again with lower energy consumption, maxing out at 72 ARM processors, and 472 cores. This allowed administrators to distribute processing across individual processors or cores to efficiently allocate computing resources as needed.

Kauricone's servers offer a range of OS environments (Redhat, Centos, or Ubuntu) preinstalled as well as application software.

"People can buy things from our website but we want to have relationships with a reseller network," Milne said. "We see ourselves as being a manufacturer in this space."

For now, Kauricone is finding its most success in the IoT market using machine learning, with three projects on the go. Servers have been deployed to monitor and reduce building waste, for monitoring road slippages with remote servers powered by solar and tracking pests in paddocks.

While, Kauricone servers clearly offer a building block for integrators and developers, they are also being used in a couple of datacentres for web hosting.

"We see that as a huge opportunity for us," said Milne.

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Tags servershardwareArmdatacentresIoTOSS GroupKauriconecluster servers



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