Intel backs $44M round for private cloud infrastructure startup Oxide Computer

Intel backs $44M round for private cloud infrastructure startup Oxide Computer

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Oxide Computer Co., a San Francisco startup developing cloud-inspired data center infrastructure, today announced that it has nabbed $44 million in funding to support its go-to-market efforts.

The Series A round was led by Eclipse Ventures. Intel Corp.’s venture capital arm, Riot Ventures, Counterpart Ventures and Rally Ventures chipped in as well.

Oxide sells a data center appliance called the Oxide Cloud Computer that combines compute, storage and network equipment in a single package. There’s also onboard management software. The system is designed to provide a similar user experience as the public cloud: administrators can perform tasks such as provisioning new virtual machines with a few clicks in a visual interface.

Oxide’s Cloud Computer takes up an entire data center rack. That rack can be equipped with 16 to 32 sleds, which are compact servers based on a custom design. Each sled includes a 64-core central processing unit from Advanced Micro Devices Inc., a 1-terabyte memory pool and 32 terabytes of NVMe flash storage.

“We knew at the outset that rack-level design would afford us the ability to change the geometry of compute sleds — that we would get higher density in the rack by trading horizontal real estate for vertical,” Oxide co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Bryan Cantrill wrote in a blog post today.

A fully-equipped Cloud Computer rack features 32 AMD processors, 35 terabytes of memory and about a petabyte of flash storage. There are also two onboard switches that coordinate the flow of data between the different hardware components. Those switches, which can each process 6.4 terabits of traffic per second, are based on an Intel Corp. chip called the Tofino 2 that is specifically designed to power network equipment.

“Anyone accustomed to a datacenter will note the missing mass of cold-aisle cabling that one typically sees at the front of a rack,” Cantrill wrote. “Capacity can be added to the Oxide cloud computer simply by snapping in a new compute sled — nothing to be cabled whatsoever.”

The key selling point of the Cloud Computer is that it promises to provide similar ease of use as the public cloud. According to Oxide, setting up the system takes a few hours instead of the weeks or months required for traditional data center infrastructure. The built-in management software allows users to provision hardware resources for a project through a point-and-drag interface or via an application programming interface, much like they would do in the public cloud.

Oxide also offers more advanced management features. According to the company, administrators can preinstall software components such as operating systems on the virtual machines they provision. It’s also possible to cap the amount of infrastructure that may be allocated to a project based on budget considerations.

On the networking side, Oxide providers the ability to organize virtual machines in a so-called VPC, or virtual private cloud. This is an isolated network that insulates the resources inside from other parts of a company’s data center. A built-in firewall regulates how traffic may flow among the resources in a VPC, as well as between different VPCs.

Another onboard software tool monitors the flash storage in each Cloud Computer for technical issues. When a solid-state drive is about to malfunction, the software can move the data it contains to other parts of the system. To further reduce the risk of data loss, customers can use a built-in snapshot feature to create backup copies of their information and move it off their Cloud Computer to external infrastructure.

Oxide says that its hardware is currently used by the Idaho National Laboratory and an unnamed “global financial services organization.” Over the next few months, the company expects to ship more of its Cloud Computers to several Fortune 1000 customers. Oxide will use the $44 million funding round it announced today to grow adoption of its systems. 

Photo: Oxide

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