Núna ehf. History

Over Four Decades of Computing Adventure

Last modified: 29 May 2023

Back in 1977, Núna’s owner, Jay C. Burton, wrote two computer programs while in high school. This code was uploaded to a mainframe computer via an ASCII terminal. The first, named WAlpha 1, allowed banners to be printed on the large-format impact printers used at the time. These printers utilized the once-common ‘green bar’ paper, and banners of any length could be printed. These banners could be printed locally at the school, or at any other school in the district. This came in handy when it was time to trash talk opposing schools prior to sporting events. Go, Warriors!

The second program, named JBSort, which combined the owner’s initials and the fact that the program utilized a bubble sort technique, was used locally for daily student absentee reporting. Before the implementation of JBSort, students gathered in their ‘homerooms’ each morning prior to the official start of the day’s classes, where attendance was taken. Reports were then carried to the front office where they were compiled, sorted by hand, typed, and then re-distributed back to the classrooms. This was an inefficient and error-prone process that took on average half of the school day to complete, given that any student who had actually arrived by the time their first full class started was not considered absent.

JBSort allowed the administrators to receive the homeroom reports, input the attendance data, and rapidly sort the data. This resulted in a tremendous reduction in the time it took to get the data organized, corrected, and a final student absentee list sent out to all teachers before the end of the first class of the day. This effort was rewarded by the Orange County school district in the form of a brand-new personal computer for the school’s computer science lab.

Jay continued to work with computers throughout his time in the Navy. While serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, he created a maintenance tracking database to analyze avionics equipment failure patterns in the Avionics Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD), which resulted in a better understanding of expected maintenance cycles. The data were further utilized to predict the need to order certain key components to ensure operational readiness. Later, Jay was transferred to a training squadron at Naval Air Station Cecil Field in Florida. He created a student tracking system utilized by several training squadrons, which remained in use after Petty Officer First Class Burton was honorably discharged from military service.

Jay went on to create two additional key computer solutions during his 20+ year career at Ricoh Corporation. The first was developed from scratch to assist field technicians in managing the inventory items they carried within their company vehicles. The original solution implemented by the company required a full-time administrative position to manage and was subject to lots of errors as part numbers for the inventoried items were either typed or handwritten.

This Technician Car Kit (TCK) solution reduced the administration time from nearly 40 hours per week per region to less than one hour per week per region. In addition, the greatly increased efficiency of parts management reduced the cost of overnight shipments by an average of nearly 30% per technician, or thousands of dollars per month. For his effort in developing this solution, which was done completely on his own time, Jay received the Ricoh Responder award, which is an annual award presented to an employee chosen by senior management for going “above and beyond” to resolve difficult situations while consistently maintaining exceptional professionalism.

A few years later Jay received a second Ricoh Responder Award while acting as a liaison between engineers from Ricoh Company Limited in Japan, and engineers from Lexmark Corporation during the development of Lexmark’s “Wedge” product. This innovative product connected a Ricoh scanner with smaller Lexmark printers and was a precursor to what would become multi-function office products. Lexmark senior management stated frankly that without Jay’s effort to keep the two engineering teams in touch, and proactively obtaining the necessary information from both teams and delivering it to the other, the Wedge product would never have happened.

As a sales support engineer for connected products, Jay observed how difficult it was for salespeople, both dealer and direct, to configure the systems they were selling. Seeing how they struggled to get every configuration right the first time or risk costly expedited freight shipments for overlooked parts of a solution, Jay developed what he named Connectivity Café.

This solution, which was essentially a product configurator, could run in a web browser—and did not require a connection to the internet to function—allowed anyone to select the major configuration options of any Ricoh office automation product and receive a display or printout of the required equipment (including all accessories) to support the specified configuration. As Jay joked at the time “It was sales rep proof.” Meaning, of course, that they could not make a mistake.

Connectivity Café became the de facto standard for validating the correctness when ordering Ricoh products. In fact, many sales managers required a printout from Connectivity Café to be attached to all product orders submitted. Jay became the only three-time winner of the Ricoh Responder Award for the development of Connectivity Café. Even though it was originally initially developed around 1995, the idea became the basis for Ricoh’s current ricohconfigurator.com used today. Talk about useful and long-term solutions!

In 1994, SDS International was founded as a technology company. SDS created many solutions, both integrated and standalone, for small businesses and even a few Fortune 500 companies. Some of these solutions were marketed under the name Sequoia Data Services, or simply Sequoia Data. Like Connectivity Café, several of these solutions have evolved and remain in use today. Some projects began as simple websites and grew as the hosting technology evolved.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Jay was in New York City for a Ricoh event. Witnessing the devastating effects of that day made Jay (and of course many others) look at things from a different perspective. Imagine someone sitting in an office at One World Trade Center thinking about how secure something stored in a safe there was. Later that day, one couldn’t even find the safe, much less what was in it. Many companies went out of business as they could not function due to the loss of data. This realization led Jay to think about distributed solutions so that such catastrophic events would not have to mean the end of a company.

This is why Jay made the decision early on to transition to cloud computing for hosting websites and other solutions. With cloud computing, in the unlikely a data center is significantly damaged or even destroyed, with the proper planning and preparation, backup resources can be rapidly deployed in other data centers. With non-cloud hosting, this is simply not possible. Some hosting providers choose to continue to provide hosting services using non-cloud solutions. These solutions just cannot offer the same level of uptime commitment as cloud computing offers, as there are simply too many variables involved. Even a single reboot of a server (and there are sometimes even more than one per DAY in some cases) can result in downtime exceeding 5 minutes. With our near-100% uptime Service Level Agreement, that translates to a maximum of unplanned downtime of only about only 5 minutes per YEAR.

Near the end of 2009, Jay was working with a new software solution, and he sought support from the company which provided that solution. As it turns out, the person he worked with turned out to be an amazing woman located in Iceland. Friendship led to more, and eventually, Jay moved to Iceland. While SDS International is still a separate entity, all day-to-day operations have since been merged into Núna ehf., which Jay now owns.

Like SDS, Núna is a strong believer in the ‘eat what you cook’ philosophy. All of the servers Núna utilizes for billing and all other web-based activities are located in the same data centers and use the same cloud as our customers’ web servers. We do not compromise anything, and we do not expect you to, either.