RealTime IT News

Fabric7 Plays Ace in Crowded Server Market

Fabric7 Systems aims to be the little fish that survives in the pond with huge competitors.

The Mountain View, Calif., startup today introduced new, low-cost servers with an eye on taking share in the crowded market for computing machines populated by IBM, HP, Dell and Sun Microsystems.

To do that, the startup needs an ace in the hole: Those vendors have slurped up most of the available market share from Fortune 1000 and Fortune 500 companies in financial services and telecommunications markets.

Fabric7 President and CEO Sharad Mehrotra said Fabric7 has worked with AMD to develop the new server architecture. He said the machines use AMD's Opteron processor and Direct Connect Architecture in conjunction with networked I/O and application service resources to offer "unprecedented levels of flexibility and price/performance."

"If we look at the complexity engendered by the device sprawl in today's data center, and the mixture of everything from mainframes on up, we [see] an opportunity to rethink certain pieces of that infrastructure and address some of the key problems are customers talk about," Mehrotra said in an interview.

The CEO, who founded networking company Procket Networks and sold it to Cisco in 2004, said that data centers currently run software from a variety of proprietary architectures, low device utilization rates and static computing abilities.

Fabric7 uses a "fabric computing" approach in a technology called Q-Par.

In short, this is a hybrid of server and networking technologies that customers can use to partition the hardware chassis into separate servers and provision bandwidth for network and storage I/O. The servers are provisioned and managed using Fabric7's Q-Visor management system, he said.

The company's flagship servers, the Q160 and Q80, are 16-way, x64 machines that use a blend of x64 architectures from AMD, Ethernet and Fibre Channel connectivity, and Linux and Windows for a more cost-effective alternative to machines made by traditional server mainstays.

The Q160 is available now, starting at $144,000. The Fabric7 Q80 server is available for customer trials and will be available in January, starting at $42,000. Both machines run Red Hat Linux, Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

Illuminata President Jonathan Eunice said Fabric7's machines address the complexity issue plaguing modern data centers.

"Fabric7 simultaneously attacks key I/O performance and manageability challenges with a virtuoso-switched fabric, 'mainframe-ish' I/O acceleration, and flexible resource allocation," Eunice said. "It's a new and compelling take on enterprise servers."

Fabric7 Systems has raised $32 million in private funding from a team that includes New Enterprise Associates, Goldman Sachs, Selby Venture Partners, Vanguard Ventures, Foundation Capital, Sanmina-SCI, and Yasuda Enterprise Development Co.