Will exit stealth next week claiming a new take on server and storage virtualization

November 23, 2006

3 Min Read
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Stealth-mode software startup EverGrid is about to emerge with a virtualization product it claims will make more efficient use of hardware than existing virtualization offerings from the likes of VMWare.

The company recently gave Byte & Switch a peek into its plans, which the company will officially reveal at the SC'06 supercomputing show in Tampa, Fla., next week. "This is data center infrastructure software that people will run on clusters and arrays," explains Dave Anderson, the EverGrid CEO.

In a nutshell, EverGrid's software offers an alternative to existing hypervisor software products from the likes of VMware and XenSource. Unlike hypervisors, the software virtualizes the application, as opposed to the operating system, to enable the servers to run simultaneously in a virtual network.

By positioning its software between the application and the operating system, instead of between operating system and hardware, EverGrid claims to avoid the performance constraints of a hypervisor, which can slow down processors as it handles different virtualization tasks. (See VMware Unveils New Suite and Xen & the Art of Virtualization.)

EverGrid's Anderson claims that that hypervisors can impact processor performance by up to 40 percent. On the other hand, he says EverGrid's software will only affect hardware performance by a maximum of 5 percent.These claims must be proven in real life. But at least one analyst, Gordon Haff of Illuminata, agrees that hypervisors can impact processor performance, although he says that, for many users, this is hardly the end of the world. "People are willing to put up with a performance overhead if it brings with it other benefits," he says, adding that server consolidation has been one of the major bonuses of virtualization.

"Plus, in another six months or a year, processors will be much faster -- quad-cores are just around the corner," he says.

The first version of EverGrid's software, which will be launched next year, will be aimed at High Performance Computing such as the LS-DYNA engineering application or the ANSYS physics tool.

Sometime in 2007, the company will also unveil an enterprise version of the software aimed at Oracle and other database applications. Pricing for the software is still to be determined although, at this stage, the firm looks likely to use an annual license fee.

Despite its ambitions, EverGrid has some way to go before it can match the market presence of established players such as VMWare and XenSource. The startup currently has just two organizations beta testing its software, a high performance computing project at Oklahoma State University, and an un-named financial services firm."Its going to be a real challenge for this company to get traction in the marketplace, because everyone and their brother is claiming to be doing something with virtualization these days," warns Haff. "It's hard to keep track of them."

The Fremont, Calif.-based startup currently has around 40 employees, although Anderson expects this number to reach between 60 and 80 by the end of next year, largely thanks to recruitment in sales, marketing, and development.

EverGrid, which was spun out of Linux clustering specialist California Digital back in February 2004, received a $6 million Series B earlier this year, following a "modest amount" of funding at the time of the spin-off. "We have got enough to last for awhile now -- I doubt that we will go out for a big round until the middle of next year, and, even then, it depends on whether we need it or not," says Anderson.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Illuminata Inc.

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • XenSource Inc.

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