Key Points:

New Zealand start-up technology company Thureon has won a prestigious international design award - placing its unique "server in a box" product alongside the creations of giants such as Apple, Dell and IBM.

The Albany company's Armarac, a secure enclosure for computer networking and communications equipment, took away silver in the computer equipment category at the 2008 International Design Excellence Awards, emerging triumphant from a field of 1517 entries from 27 countries.

The Armarac has previously won a New Zealand design award, and been a finalist in Australia, so when Thureon director Ross Vincent was told the news, the enormity of the win did not sink in until he looked through the list of past winners of the awards, which have been running since 1980.

"We didn't realise that this was actually a significant award that these big players actually go in for every year. They take it so seriously that they deliberately, specifically enter."

The win adds to the three-year-old company's growing momentum. In May it secured a million-dollar contract to supply 200 Armaracs to schools in California as part of the United States Department of Education's refurbishment programme.

Its space-saving advantage may have been a key drawcard; the wall-mounted device occupies only about 0.3 square metres, against a dedicated server room requiring at least 7.5 square metres.

Made mainly from polycarbonate and aluminium, the device also secures the equipment from theft or tampering, but allows for easier access than conventional racks in server rooms.

Vincent said the Armarac was ideal in small offices and temporary sites that needed IT infrastructure, but not necessarily a permanent IT technician.

Its unique features has already seen organisations such as transtasman construction firm Fulton Hogan and the US State Department trial a couple of units.

Vincent said that to date the company had orders for more than 200 units, with negotiations under way that could see a further 1200 supplied to clients worldwide.