Mastering Your Own Cloud Computing Fate
As many solution providers continue to evolve into cloud service providers many of the server vendor relationships that many of them built their businesses on are being reevaluated.
The primary reason this is happening is that if customers are buying a service they generally don’t care much about the specific IT infrastructure that enables it. For the service provider that makes it a lot more feasible to work with custom system builder distributors such as Super Micro, as opposed to buying commercial systems from IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell or Oracle.
Of course, the major server vendors would strenuously argue that modern servers come with higher levels of IT automation that make them much easier to manage. As such, they are ideal for cloud computing environment because they allow each IT administrator to holistically manage more servers, storage and networking resources.
To a degree that’s all true. But David Okada, senior manager, marketing at Super Micro, says that cloud service providers can avail themselves of any number of third-party IT automation tools that are generally more customizable than anything offered by commercial server vendors. The key to cloud computing success, says Okada, is building data centers around a modular architecture that makes it simple to scale out additional capacity by simply adding more servers in a rack
Okada says this is important because when commercial blade servers run out of capacity, the cloud service provider is expected to add another complete new system. In contrast, Okada says when you examine the IT architecture used today by builders of high-performance (HPC) computing centers and the largest providers of cloud computing systems it is almost invariably based on rack-mounted servers.
In fact, Super Micro and Mellanox Technologies, a provider of InfiniBand and Ethernet connectivity products, recently announced that a major unidentified Asian cloud provider selected Super Micro servers and Mellanox’s Virtual Protocol Interconnect (VPI) offerings to build one of the world’s largest cloud solutions using Mellanox’s 40 Gigabit Ethernet NICs and switches and 56 Gigabit-per-second InfiniBand adapter and switches to create a cloud that consists of 5,000 nodes.
Ideally, Gilad Shainer, vice president of market development, Mellanox Technologies, a provider of InfiniBand and Ethernet connectivity products, those rack-mounted serves would be connected to an InfiniBand network that provides the highest amount of I/O throughput available, which makes it easier to scale out the data center environment by adding additional rack-mounted servers.
Tau Leng, general manager of high performance computing for Super Micro, says the company is not only seeing an increased number of classic resellers looking to Super Micro for help to build data centers, many of its partners are seeing increased activity in the form of solution providers wanting to resell cloud computing services. Leng also notes that Super Micro gives system builder early access to the latest technologies that most commercial server vendors take months to implement, which is critical in terms of being able to compete as a cloud service provider.
Rather than rely on large scale cloud computing platforms created by companies such as Rackspace or Amazon, many solution providers prefer to rely on smaller organizations that allow them resell services under their own brand as a higher profit.
In addition, other resellers are choosing to combine their resources to create data centers for providing cloud computing services to customers in different regions of the country where they don’t compete with one another.
Whatever path solution providers take to cloud, it’s clear that a fair number of them for better or worse are opting to take their cloud computing fates into their own hands.