Microsoft Acquires Cloud HPC Company GreenButton

By snapping up the high-performance computing company, Microsoft pushes Azure further into the market for cloud-based big data services.

Cloud expansion

Microsoft has acquired GreenButton, a New Zealand-based cloud specialist, boosting the high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities of the software giant's massive Azure cloud platform.

Mike Neil, a general manager in the Microsoft Azure cloud division, announced the transaction in a May 1 blog post. While the financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund reported a "very healthy return" on the deal. Microsoft had invested $1 million in the startup, a long-time Azure partner company, in 2011.

GreenButton made waves in late 2012 when it launched Cloud Fabric, an on-demand service that enables subscribers to effectively acquire practically unlimited cloud processing power for their HPC and big data workloads. The technology is not only compatible with Microsoft Azure, but also works with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and OpenStack.

Key selling points include the product's simplicity and flexible handling of workloads. "Using GreenButton's solutions, applications can be cloud-enabled quickly without recoding existing software—and without a Ph.D. in computer science," said Neil in his blog post.

The claim echoes comments made by GreenButton CEO Scott Houston at the product's launch on Nov. 6, 2012. Houston told eWEEK's Chris Preimesberger that his company provides "a slider that lets the user fine-tune exactly how he or she wants to have the job completed," he said.

"If you need the results faster, slide it up the scale, and you get more computing cores to do the job," added Houston. With Cloud Fabric, IT organizations can make the economics of cloud computing work for their internal timetables.

"If you don't need the job until tomorrow or a couple of days from now, slide it down," explained Houston. "You pay less that way but still get the job done."

Houston got the idea for GreenButton's tech while working as CTO for Weta Digital, the video production company behind Peter Jackson's blockbuster "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The effects-laden films required the coordination of tens of thousands of processors and the management of massive, multi-terabyte-sized files—a very manual process. In seeking ways to automate the process of provisioning massive workloads, Cloud Fabric was born.

Now, GreenButton's software factors into Microsoft's goal to turn Azure into the one cloud to rule them all.

"As a result of today's acquisition, we'll be working to integrate those solutions with the Microsoft Azure platform, enabling customers to simply and easily solve complex problems, get more from their data and drive their business forward," said Neil. GreenCloud is no longer accepting new customers and the tech will re-appear with new integrated Azure service later this year, he added.

GreenButton and Azure will help bring "Big Compute" and the innovations that it enables within reach for all types of enterprises, Neil said. He stated that Microsoft is "looking forward to democratizing the use of Big Compute through the power of the cloud, so that organizations from all walks of life can use their data to transform their business and the world."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...