best of the valley
simon rohrich and bill woodbury - techie knights
Food and Restaurants
Lifestyle and Entertainment
Shopping And Services
For free monthly updates, event invitations and exclusive deals, sign-up for our newsletter!
Best of the Valley
Simon Rohrich and Bill Woodbury - Techie Knights
November, 2012, Page 110
Photography by Madison Kirkman
Tech innovators Simon Rohrich and Bill Woodbury are revolutionizing the future of data storage. Ironically, they met while wearing suits of ancient armor. As members of the Phoenix faction of national medieval re-enactors, the Society for Creative Anachronism, they compete internationally by extreme 14th-century rules: Game of Thrones meets Fight Club. Woodbury recently had surgery on a bludgeoned nose. “I’m swinging a steel ax as hard as I can,” Rohrich says. “It’s no joke. The fact that [I don’t] die is purely the result of the armor.”
Their day job involves wielding spears of a different kind. They’re the founders of Elliptical Mobile Solutions and creators of the S.P.E.A.R. and the R.A.S.E.R., mini storage centers that act like suits of armor for computer data, protecting pricey tech equipment from fires, floods, and extreme duress. Ex-bouncer Rohrich noticed that when servers crash, it can cost a corporation $3 million a minute. That’s why companies place data backup in specialized, air conditioned facilities - facilities, it should noted, that waste 75 percent of the energy required to cool them, and account for 3 percent of the planet’s greenhouse-gas output.
In 2005, Rohrich and machinist-gunsmith Woodbury, both now 37, created EMS, which recently relocated from Mesa to Chandler. Their pitch to companies: Ditch your edifice complex for a “PC data bunker.” The steel containers protect a ton of gadgetry from the elements, fit in spaces about the size of a refrigerator, and reduce the typical server cooling bill by half – and they’re portable.
At first, CEOs laughed at them, but after suffering recession losses and vertigo-inducing power bills, companies took another look at EMS, which saw their revenue catapult to $1.8 million. An early adopter, the city of Avondale faced a $300,000, 18-month construction bill for a backup center required by law. Instead it shoehorned an EMS bunker into an unused police station room. Says Rohrich: “Their data center bill was $29,000, and it took two days.”
Among recent EMS converts: AOL, NASA, the Hopi Tribe, the Canadian government, Vietnam, and Flagstaff. NATO is testing EMS containers to help modernize Afghanistan. No takers yet for an EMS prototype that withstands 9-millimeter bullets. But if customers need to get medieval, Rohrich and Woodbury are ready.
For more information on Elliptical Mobile Solutions, call 480-924-0547 or visit
© 2007 Copyright Phoenix Magazine 15169 N. Scottsdale Road Suite C310 Scottsdale Arizona 85254
Travel & Outdoors
Best of The Valley
Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine
Advertise With Us
Web Site Design