Cloud Success

Image: Cloud Success

Sheng Yeo is a pretty unflappable character. When asked about OrionVM, the cloud computing company he co-founded two years ago, he smiles.

"It's going okay," he says.

'Okay' might be an understatement. OrionVM is now, according to a US cloud benchmarking company, the world's fastest cloud computing platform. It has a rapidly growing reputation and revenues that are increasing at a rate of 80 – 110% per month. Not bad for a company where the average age of the employees at startup was 19.

OrionVM was the brainchild of Yeo, now 23 and the company's Managing Director, and two friends, 19-year old Joseph Glanville and 20-year-old Alex Sharp. The three met during their undergraduate degrees (Yeo and Glanville at UTS, Sharp at the University of Sydney) and it was in a UTS dorm room that the idea for OrionVM came about.

"When we started the company, people told us we couldn't do it. We said 'okay', that's a challenge accepted!" Yeo says.

Cloud computing is basically the provision of computing services through the internet. At a consumer level, cloud computing provides the option to have data hosted away from the user's computer; applications like Facebook, Dropbox and Gmail, for example, are all applications that store data in a 'cloud'.

However, OrionVM supplies much more fundamental cloud services, providing the foundation infrastructure on which cloud applications sit.

"If you buy a hosted sales or accounting application from somebody, it's going to need to be hosted somewhere," Yeo says.

"So we don't give people an application; we give them on-demand IT infrastructure."

In a heavily populated market, OrionVM manages to stand out from the crowd through a combination of approaches, including the speed of the platform, the no-single-point-of-failure system with rapid recovery, a flexible billing approach and the fact that all them company's software and architecture has been built in-house.

"The number one thing we focus on is giving high-quality service," says Yeo, who picked up a 2010 Anthill 30under30 award for his entrepreneurial vision.

"For our clients, it's all about being able to do things instantly without large up-front costs."

Despite its stellar success today, OrionVM came from humble beginnings. Yeo, Glanville and Sharp have spent the last two years pouring heart and soul into their company. In the beginning, they worked day and night and invested their own money – to the tune of about $70,000 – into getting the business up and running.

It has meant a few sacrifices along the way. Yeo, who is partway through completing a double degree (Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Science in Information Technology), took leave from his studies in order to focus his energy on the business.

"We spent a lot of time sleeping under the desks in the office, spending $4 a meal to feed the whole team," Yeo says. "We spent all our money on hardware. We needed to have the best servers so we spent all our money on that."

It's an investment that's paying off. The team is about to bring their first investor on board, and Yeo is pushing for a revenue of $1 million by the end of the 2011/2012 financial year – only their third year in business.

Sounds like they have a pretty impressive future ahead of them, doesn't it? Yeo shrugs, smiles.

"We're going okay," he says.

Words: Clare Thompson
Image: Courtesy of ORIONVM