Azul Attacks Data Center Apps

Data center startup emerges from stealth this week with a device designed to ease the strain on server resources

October 2, 2004

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Data center startup Azul Systems Inc. emerged from stealth this week with a network-attached device to help manage applications across dozens of servers.

The compute appliances are 11 rack units high, roughly the size of a midrange server. Each appliance contains up to 384 processor cores and 256 gigabytes of memory. This can support up to 100 data center servers, according to Azul execs.

The company predicts that the new devices will do for servers what storage area networks did for disk and tape back in the 1990s. Compute power looks a lot like direct attached storage did -- each application is allocated a server,” says Gil Tene, the company’s CTO.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based firm’s strategy is all about freeing these applications from their individual servers and sharing them across the entire data center infrastructure, powered by the compute appliances. Supporting Java and J2EE-based applications, the devices use a virtual machine proxy technology to redirect workloads across the available pool of compute resources.

So, why has Azul decided to focus on Java and J2EE? “Java and J2EE is where the money is now in data center deployments, so we’re going where the big bucks are,” says Tene. The devices also support BEA Systems Inc.’s (Nasdaq: BEAS) WebLogic family of products and IBM Corp.’s (NYSE: IBM) WebSphere.Tene confirms that Azul is also planning to support Microsoft Corp.’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) .Net platform, although he won't provide specific details on this.

End-user trials of the compute appliance will begin later this year, and the first products are expected to be available in the first half of next year.

Azul is not the only company preoccupied with sharing compute resources. EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), for example, is already well established in the market following its acquisition of VMware Inc. earlier this year; and vendors such as Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) and IBM are devoting massive resources to grid computing (see EMC Completes VMware Acquisition, IBM Announces New Grid, Linux Cluster Wins, and Sun Unlocks Grid for $1).

But Tene sees VMWare as a complementary technology, as opposed to a competitor, and Azul is touting its appliance as a device that can be plugged into any network, across a broad range of servers.

Tene also predicts that the appliance will improve efficiency, by boosting the amount of server capacity used by applications. This will reach the 60 to 70 percent level found on mainframes, up from the 20 percent of capacity that is traditionally employed on blades and dedicated servers, he claims.Azul was founded in April 2002 by Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) execs Tene and Shyam 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 for Sun.

Azul is backed by venture capital firms Accel Partners, Austin Ventures, ComVentures, Redpoint Ventures, and WorldView Technology Partners, although the company is unwilling to divulge exactly how much funding it has so far received.

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

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights