Azul Aces First Customers

The data center startup is racking up sales for its virtualization appliance

June 9, 2005

3 Min Read
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CHICAGO Supercomm 2005 – Just a few weeks after unveiling its range of virtualization devices, data center startup Azul Systems has already racked up a couple of deals, and company execs claim another 25 are in the pipeline (see Azul Unveils Compute Appliances).

“These are many of the world’s largest banks, telecom companies, retail organizations, and transportation companies,” boasts Matthew McLaughlin, Azul’s vice president of worldwide field operations. Mum's the word on names and numbers, though.

When Azul's product was first launched in April, lack of customer credibility was cited as a major hurdle for the startup (see Azul to Launch Virtual Java Box). Now it seems to be making its presence felt.

Azul is claiming a new approach to dealing with data center workloads. Traditionally, users have kept additional processing capacity within their servers to cope with peaks and troughs when dealing with Java-based applications. However, the startup now redirects these workloads to its family of Compute Appliances (see Azul Attacks Data Center Apps).

By offloading Java workloads to processors in its devices, Azul frees up data center servers to work on other things (see Building Virtual Empires).Like any company with a new way of doing things, Azul's challenge is to get its message across without frightening off prospective users. So far, it seems to be holding its own. Shyam Pillalamarri, Azul’s co-founder and VP of software engineering, says the firm is already planning its next major product upgrade. Azul’s next-generation platform will be out on the market within the next 12 to 18 months, he says. Although unwilling to give too much away, Pillalamarri confirmed that this will be a larger device than Azul’s current high-end, 384-processor box.

The emphasis will be on improved performance, according to Pillalalallamarri, with the new device offering more capacity and better throughput than Azul’s existing wares.

Azul is also planning to extend the Compute Appliance’s operating system support beyond Solaris and Linux. “Over the next six to nine months we will be extending that, potentially, to all the operating systems within the data center,” says the exec.

The startup, which already has a support deal with IBM Global Services, is also looking to add to its list of partners (see Azul Selects IBM). McLaughlin says that Azul is currently working on a possible partnership with Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS), which could eventually see Compute Appliances offered as part of EDS’s Agile Enterprise strategy.

In order to support all this activity, Azul is planning to increase its headcount from 150 people. McLaughlin predicts that this figure will grow to between 225 and 250 within the next 12 months, split between sales and support.Azul was founded in April 2002 by Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) execs Gil Tene and Pillalamarri, along with Scott Sellers, the man behind graphics processor company 3dfx Interactive. The company is headed by CEO Stephen DeWitt, former vice president and general manager of content delivery and edge computing at Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW).

The total amount of funding the company has received has not been disclosed publicly, however it's been reported to have received several rounds totaling tens of millions of dollars.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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