Advanced Micro Devices executives last year made a bold move when they spent $334 million to buy microserver vendor SeaMicro, which until that time had been working with larger rival Intel in developing low-power systems.
Twenty months later, and AMD has made its biggest score yet with SeaMicro: Verizon is basing its new public cloud server and storage infrastructure exclusively on SeaMicro’s SM15000 systems and its Freedom fabric architecture.
Verizon officials announced their Verizon Cloud platform Oct. 4, taking aim at such public cloud providers as Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and Google. They touted the speed and performance of the new platform—including the ability to spin up virtual machines in seconds—as a key differentiator from Verizon’s competitors. However, it wasn’t until Oct. 7 that Verizon and AMD officials announced that the underlying infrastructure will be based on SeaMicro technology.
AMD and Verizon officials would not say how many systems will be used in the multi-data center deployment of the Verizon Cloud platform or how much the deal is for. However, Andrew Feldman, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD’s server business—and former SeaMicro CEO—said during a briefing with journalists and analysts before the announcement that Verizon has now become the largest SeaMicro customer.
The collaboration goes beyond just the hardware, the companies said. AMD and Verizon also have collaborated over the past two years to jointly develop new hardware and software technology for the SM15000 systems aimed at not only driving up performance and reliability but also control and security to ensure enterprise-level service-level agreements (SLAs).
“We reinvented the public cloud from the ground up to specifically address the needs of our enterprise clients,” John Considine, chief technology officer at Verizon Terremark, said in a statement. “We wanted to give them back control of their infrastructure—providing the speed and flexibility of a generic public cloud with the performance and security they expect from an enterprise-grade cloud. Our collaboration with AMD enabled us to develop revolutionary technology, and it represents the backbone of our future plans.”
“Verizon’s now our largest customer, and they have tremendous capacity right now,” AMD’s Feldman said. “This is an industry-moving event where one of the major telcos steps in the cloud with both feet … not in one data center, but in data centers all over the world.”
Verizon will launch the public beta of its cloud server in the fourth quarter, with users initially being served via the vendor’s data center in Culpeper, Va. Other data centers around the world will be added to the Verizon Cloud through the first half of 2014.
Verizon Cloud consists of Verizon Cloud Compute—the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform—and Verizon Cloud Storage, an object-based, multitenant storage service. Through Verizon Cloud Compute, businesses can quickly leverage the infrastructure they need to deploy virtual machines, set performance levels for virtual machines and networks, configure storage performance and attach storage to multiple virtual machines. It’s a level of control that other cloud services don’t offer, Verizon officials said. Verizon Cloud Storage enables storage accessibility from anywhere on the Web and reduces latency issues that Verizon officials said hamper traditional storage solutions.
AMD’s SeaMicro Microservers Will Drive Verizon’s New Cloud
The SeaMicro SM15000 systems and Freedom fabric will be the drivers of these capabilities, Feldman said. When SeaMicro initially was developing its microservers, they were based on Intel’s low-power Atom platform. However, they now also use server chips from AMD (Opteron) and Intel (Xeon), and the SM15000s that Verizon will run will use all three chips.
The microservers are designed to pack a lot of performance into small systems that use relatively small amounts of power and space, enabling businesses to put a lot of them into data centers. The SM15000s will run up to 512 cores in a 10U (17.5-inch) system, with up to 2,048 cores per rack and 4 terabytes of memory per system. Each CPU socket offers 10G-bps bandwidth, and the systems bring up to 5 petabytes of storage.
A key is the Freedom fabric, which Feldman said brings a greater level of security and reliability to Verizon’s public cloud. Cloud providers traditionally leverage the multitenancy concept, where workloads run on the same servers and use the same networking connections. Performance can be hurt if demand is too high on the systems and networks, creating a bottleneck.
Via the Freedom fabric, workloads are assigned dedicated pathways to avoid the bottleneck, ensuring that there is no commingling of the jobs, Feldman said.
Greater user control also is factor, he said. By pooling and aggregating resources, businesses can more easily determine the size of capabilities of the virtual machine. If a customer wants a VM with a lot of memory or more performance or less storage, that can be easily done.
The Verizon deal is part of a larger effort to bring AMD back to profitability and reduce its reliance on the contracting global PC market. Low-power dense servers for cloud and other hyperscale environments are one of several growth areas that AMD is targeting, with the others including ultraportable devices, embedded systems and the company’s semi-custom business.
The public cloud space promises to be a booming one for the next several years, according to IDC analysts. In a report last month, IDC said the public IT cloud server market will grow 23.5 percent between now and 2017, with spending growing from $47.4 billion in 2013 to more than $107 billion in four years.