As we move into the age of webscale and cloud computing, the traditional data center architecture is blowing apart, according to executives of startups that have built new kinds of disruptive data center gear and software at the Structure 2012 conference on Wednesday in San Francisco.
It began when the search-engine giants started making their own boxes and customized gear, noted Andrew Feldman, Corporate VP and GM of Data Center Server Solutions, AMD. Servers are the profit machines of the large Internet companies, so it’s not surprising that they would want to maximize the value that those can create, said Feldman. End users are taking control of specifying out what they want, agreed Barry Evans, CEO of Calxeda, which makes ARM-based servers.
The vendor industry brought a one-size-fits-all ideology to these companies and “that’s long dead,” says Feldman. Feldman’s company SeaMicro, which makes low power servers, was sold to AMD earlier this year for $334 million. SeaMicro’s servers are built for the webscale and cloud computing market, and are completely different machines to those built by incumbents like HP, Dell and IBM.
Using software to tie servers together will be an increasingly important market, too. As webscale computing and cloud computing grow, the way companies tie hundreds or thousands of servers together will be fundamentally different than tying hundreds of thousands of servers together. There can be 100,000 networking endpoints being managed by software these days, noted Guido Appenzeller, co-founder and CEO of Big Switch Networks.
There will be multiple ways to link servers together, the execs agreed. There won’t just be one type of linking fabric. But as long as there are ways to make these fabrics interoperable, by using APIs, the customer may not care which fabric they use, said Appenzeller.