Startup Looks to Challenge Cisco, HP in Data Center

At a time when Cisco and HP are looking for ways to offer more integrated data center solutions, InteliCloud is rolling out its InteliCloud 360. The product offers a combination of off-the-shelf and proprietary hardware, software and networking technologies in a single box designed to address such data center trends as cloud computing and the growth of services like voice and video. InteliCloud officials expect the solution to cost 50 percent less than conventional offerings, while improving scalability, easing management and cutting cooling costs.

The same week that Cisco Systems rolled out its ambitious Unified Computing System data center initiative, a startup is coming out with its own integrated network infrastructure designed to address the complexity, cost and scaling issues within data centers as the demand for online services and cloud computing grows.

InteliCloud is prepping its InteliCloud 360 offering for an evaluation period that will extend into June, according to President and CEO Ken Hubbard.

Announced March 17, InteliCloud 360 integrates commodity components and proprietary technologies into a single box, with the aim of giving data center administrators an easy-to-manage and easy-to-scale solution as the demand for online services grows.

Industry reaction to Cisco's UCS strategy was mixed.

Hubbard said the idea for InteliCloud came after viewing the landscape and seeing that the various products being offered now only address pieces of the overall problem-from integration and scaling to hardware optimization and provisioning, high-volume tiered storage, and power and cooling costs.

"What we see out there is a lot of single point solutions, which everyone in the space is doing," he said. "But what you don't have is anyone looking at it from the ground up and saying, -Maybe we need to rearchitect.'"

That is what InteliCloud is looking to do. The InteliCloud 360 comes integrated with all the hardware components-from servers, processors, networks, I/O-and software components-operating systems, virtualization technology and management tools-ready to go, Hubbard said. The InteliCloud 360 comes in either a 10U chassis when rack-mounted or a 14U stand-alone chassis.

Many components are off-the-shelf, from the chips from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and Sun Microsystems to various hard disk drives, to 1 Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet networking technologies.

Proprietary technologies include InteliCloud's InVelope virtualization tool that virtualizes the servers, storage devices and network interfaces and can be used with Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and 2008, various Linux distributions and Sun's Solaris OS. InStore is the company's built-in storage virtualization technology and InControl is the interface that manages everything from a single place.

Hubbard said all that means that InteliCloud is 50 to 60 percent less expensive that a bunch of point solutions, improves scaling and drives down power costs.

That will be a key message for the company going forward as it tries to find traction in a market that includes such heavyweights as Cisco and Hewlett-Packard. The dynamic within the data center is changing as cloud computing muscles its way in and the demand for such services as voice, video and photos continues to grow. Vendors are looking for ways to offer more integrated solutions that include servers, storage and networking to address those trends.

That was the gist behind Cisco's Unified Computing System announcement March 16, which will combine Cisco's own technology-and upcoming blade servers-with offerings from such partners as VMware and EMC. HP also is pushing integrated solutions based on its hardware, software and networking offerings.

Hubbard is hoping that the results from the evaluation testing-InteliCloud has 20 test systems it is putting into the evaluation program-will help the company gain a foothold the in a market dominated by such big names.

"People will see the true difference and the true numbers," he said.