What if I told you that you could fit sixty (60) physical servers in a 4U rack chassis? And that the chassis also included redundant switching with multiple 40GB uplinks. That is exactly what Aparna Systems are producing. The servers are a cartridge, the same size as a 3.5” hard disk, with an Intel Xeon CPU, 64GB of RAM, two SSDs and two 10Gbe networks. You can install whatever operating system you want on the nodes. Maybe Linux for containers or KVM, ESXi for a vSphere deployment, even Windows if that floats your boat. The chassis that accommodates sixty nodes is a full-size 4U enclosure, designed to go into server racks in a data center. With all the upstream bandwidth, these chassis are designed to be stacked up in a rack and clustered into massive scale-out server farms. There is also a smaller chassis, a mere 15 servers in 4U. This chassis is much shorter and will fit into communications racks or smaller data center racks. The smaller chassis are more suited to geo-dispersed use, service provider PoPs or industrial automation and analytics.
This is a hardware platform from which to build a cloud. It is not an opinionated, cloud-in-a-box with a defined operating system and orchestration platform. You get a bunch of servers and networking, add your own cloud software. The switches do have capabilities to help you deploy your chosen operating system, but you get to choose what and how you deploy. This is some very cool hardware, continuing the progression from tower servers, through large rack, to pizza boxes and then blades. A cartridge based platform is even more dense. Aparna is still very early, no flash offices. I liked that one cubicle had bare circuit boards pinned to the wall, the team is deep in the hardware development. I would love to see an even smaller chassis, four cartridges, and basic 10Gbe networking. That would be a great platform for ROBO or even home lab. That is not a market that Aparna are looking at. They are aiming for large analytics farms, NFV for Telcos and IoT edge compute.
© 2017, Alastair. All rights reserved.