HPE Partner Invested In And Helped Shape Greenqloud, Before It Was Acquired By NetApp

One Hewlett-Packard Enterprise solution provider played a key role in the development of a company NetApp recently bought: enterprise-scale cloud management technology developer Greenqloud.

Greenqloud, which NetApp acquired in the second quarter, counted among its investors and board members Kelly Ireland, founder and CEO of CB Technologies, a Kirkland, Wash.-based solution provider.

Ireland (pictured) told CRN that she was introduced to Jonsi Stefansson, CEO of Reykjavik, Iceland-based Greenqloud, by a mutual acquaintance at Microsoft in 2015. Greenqloud was originally founded to sell public cloud computing services based on its facilities powered 100 percent by renewable energy, but in 2014 had changed course to focus on software.

[Related: NetApp Bought Iceland's Greenqloud To Fill Data Fabric Need For Cloud Automation, Orchestration]

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That software is Qstack. Launched in 2015, Qstack can be deployed in multiple private cloud locations and to share resources between those private clouds extend them to another remote Qstack cloud environment, any EC2-based public cloud, or AWS or Microsoft Azure.

"Jonsi had a concept that really resonated with me," Ireland said. "While everyone else was going down the OpenStack path, Jonsi said a true cloud platform is not just OpenStack, but also CloudStack and others."

Ireland sent four engineers to Iceland to visit Greenqloud in order to understand the company better, and they were impressed, she said.

"Greenqloud was exactly what its name implied: A green cloud," she said. "The company operated off thermal energy, and is completely green."

While Greenqloud's original investors came from the IT industry, Stefansson over the course of a year told Ireland that he needed someone who could talk to the company's board of directors about the IT market, and about the U.S. market.

"We had seen lots of starts and struggles in the cloud," she said. "And I've been in IT for 30 years, and felt I could bring in a lot of information."

That eventually led Ireland to take an equity stake in the company in 2016. She declined to discuss details regarding the value of her stake in Greenqloud.

Greenqloud's talent was a big part of Ireland's interest in the company, especially that of Stefansson who was well-known for his work in developing the Opera browser, Ireland said. "He knew what he was creating, and knew where he wanted to go," she said. "And he had a great group of people."

Ireland said she was excited about NetApp's acquisition of Greenqloud and the support NetApp is giving Stefansson, who is now that company's vice president of cloud services.

"NetApp is letting him continue to be an innovator, and expanding his team," she said.

Once the acquisition closed, Ireland's role as a part of Greenqloud's board of directors ended. However, her journey with Stefansson is continuing as her company, CB Technologies, signed with NetApp as one of its newest channel partners.

"NetApp liked the idea of working with a solution provider with cloud experience and with experience within Qstack," she said.

NetApp's technology, in general, fits well with CB Technologies' business, Ireland said. "Signing with represents an expansion of our business," she said. "But there's no lessening of our HPE relationship. The industry today needs a lot of collaboration and partnerships. NetApp made a lot of great acquisitions in the last year. We see a lot of upside in what they're doing."

Greenqloud was a one-off investment for Ireland. She has also purchased a software application that is targeted at helping high school graduates entering the workplace learn creativity, collaboration, and communication. It is slated to launch in 2018. "A lot of students really can't communicate after they leave high school," she said.