Azul Launches Network Attached Server Appliance

In a move to take compute power off the server, startup Azul Systems today introduced four models of its Compute Appliance product line targeting virtual machine-based applications.

Prices for a 96-way symmetric multiprocessing system with 32 GB of memory start at US$89,000. That’s a hefty price tag, but the company is confident customers will find value in the systems, each of which can replace a number of low-end servers running Java for e-commerce transactions.

“Network attached processing is here. It is simple to use, simple to deploy, and it will change the way we think about compute capacity,” said Stephen DeWitt, president and CEO of Azul Systems.

First in Line

Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director at the Burton Group, told TechNewsWorld that the Azul Compute Appliance is the first of its kind on the market.

“Azul has taken the concept of network attached computing and applied it to the concept of processing power,” Manes said. “Now you no longer have the vertical scalability issues that you have within a single unix machine or even a massive Unix cluster.”

At the heart of the Azul Compute Appliance is the industry’s first 24-core, 64-bit SMP-capable microprocessor that is optimized for virtual machine-based applications. The Azul Vega chip supports object-oriented operations, pauseless garbage collection, 96 GB of heap, and optimistic thread concurrency.

Separating the Compute from Computer

Azul said separating the “compute” from the “computer” enables the creation of compute pools that can be accessed from any server on the network without requiring any changes to applications or existing infrastructure and reduces the complexity of managing a multi-tenant shared environment.

“It’s clear that multi-core processors and network attached processing will make IT planners rethink the value equation of today’s infrastructure services,” said Vernon Turner, Group Vice President, Global Enterprise Server Solutions at IDC.

At 10 percent to 20 percent of the cost of a comparable machine with the same level of compute capacity, Manes said she suspects Azul could soon be acquired by a big hardware company.

“When you are working with standard Unix machines, if you throw another processor in there you actually don’t get linear scalability. Azul is saying they get better than linear scalability,” she said. “Companies that are really pressed for vertical scalability are going to find this very interesting.”

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