CIO POWER REPORT
A BRIGHT IDEA
operators Phil and
Sherry Nail were
tired of skyrocketing
electricity bills. They
converted to solar
the green strategy is
of its own.
BY MEL DUVALL
Here Comes the Sun
FOR A RELATIVELY SMALL DATA CENTER OPERATION,
Affordable Internet Services Online boasts a rather eclectic
Situated in Romoland, Calif., amid the rolling hills of
Riverside County, the company hosts Web sites from Sweden,
Kenya, the United Kingdom, France, Austria, New Zealand
and Australia. Clients range from personal Web sites and small
businesses to large corporations. What could they have in
common? These varied customers share a desire to have their
sites—and their reputations—associated with what may be the
world’s greenest data center.
BASELINE FEBRUARY 2008
Unlike most data centers, which are voracious energy consumers, AISO pays nothing for its electricity. The facility—its
servers, cooling systems, even the owners’ residence next
door—gets all its power from an array of solar panels.
“We initially did this because we thought it was the right
thing to do,” says Phil Nail, who founded the company with his
wife, Sherry, in 1997. “It wasn’t exactly part of a business plan to
attract customers. But we found that companies from all over
48 the world have been drawn to us. They want their customers to
know that their Web sites are powered by solar energy.”
Prior to 1997, the Nails ran a small awning manufacturing
business, but when the Internet revolution went into full
swing, they decided to try something new. Despite having
little IT experience, the couple decided to go into the Web
site hosting business.
“At that time I couldn’t even install the software needed
to run the first server we bought,” he says. That’s how Nail
met his current network administrator, Steven Craig. Nail ran
into Craig, who was just 15 at the time, at the local bowling
alley. Craig told him he knew how to get his server up and
Nail housed that first server in a co-location facility 400
miles away in Sacramento, but eventually decided to try
hosting the server himself.
He flew to Sacramento, picked up his server, strapped it
onto the airplane seat next to him, and brought it home. “My
customers’ sites were down for a few hours that day, but no one
complained,” he says. Nail had a T1 line installed at his house,
plugged in the server and became a data center operator.