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Calxeda shows off new partners and will launch with Ubuntu as its OS

Calxeda, the startup building servers using the same kind of chips used in cell phones, has launched its partner program, known as Trailblazer. Companies such as Eucalyptus, Gluster, Canonical and Opscode lined up Tuesday behind the ARM-based (s armh) server company to show their willingness to work with Calxeda’s specialized hardware, which is designed to perform with better energy efficiency. Calxeda also said it would use Ubuntu’s Linux distribution as the operating system for its gear.

This is no small commitment for the companies involved. For decades, Intel (s intc) and AMD (s amd ) have held the server market (there was a smaller role for high-end machines using IBM’s Power PC (s ibm) and Sun’s Sparc (s orcl) processors). Making an architecture shift to ARM machines requires a rewrite of the software developers would use for their apps. It also requires faith that Calxeda can convince cloud operators and those in enterprises running big data applications that ARM-based servers are worth the switch away from the old, familiar x86 servers. In return, Barry Evans (pictured), the CEO of Calxeda, offers energy efficiency– running a data center that performs more work with substantially less power consumption.

The Trailblazer program will open the Calxeda technology to IT companies that want to build software, interoperate with the servers and any of the other steps required to play in the complex ecosystem that is enterprise IT. Calxeda has managed to get the following companies involved, which range from NoSQL database vendors to government contractors:

  • Autonomic Resources
  • Canonical (Ubuntu)
  • Caringo
  • Couchbase
  • Datastax
  • Eucalyptus Systems
  • Gluster
  • Momentum SI
  • Opscode
  • Pervasive Software

The list itself I find a bit lackluster, in part because four of these companies have headquarters or founders from Calxeda’s (and my) hometown of Austin, Texas, which has me wondering if regional favoritism is at play here more than a leap of technical faith. However, the choice to launch with Ubuntu, which had me skeptical at first, may be a good one. Sources explained that Ubuntu is a popular cloud OS among Amazon Web Services (s amzn) and Rackspace (s rax) Cloud users,¬†although it faces pressure from CentOS and Red Hat (s rht) for enterprise servers.

Ubuntu has had designs on the cloud for a while, and perhaps this is a savvy move to corner the cloud computing and big data market that Calxeda is hoping to crack. On Monday, Derrick laid out how big data analytics might be exactly the type of application that could drive adoption of micro servers from vendors such as Calxeda and SeaMicro. Even Intel has laid a claim (albeit unconvincingly) to this potential market. Check out this video from our Green:Net event with Calxeda’s VP Marketing Karl Freund extolling Calxeda’s plans, or see Calxeda at our upcoming Structure 2011 event next week in San Francisco.

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