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Oxide Computer: Revolutionizing Cloud Computing for the Modern Data Center

Discover how Oxide Computer transforms the data center landscape with its innovative cloud computing solutions designed for the modern enterprise.

The Dawn of a New Era in Cloud Computing

The 56th IT Press Tour brought together industry leaders and innovators, including Oxide Computer Company, which is redefining cloud computing for the modern data center. Co-founders Steve Tuck (CEO), Brian Cantrill (CTO), and Software Engineer Adam Leventhal presented their groundbreaking solutions to the attendees, showcasing how Oxide Computer is revolutionizing organizations' approaches to IT infrastructure.

Addressing the Fractured On-Premises Ecosystem

Traditional data centers face numerous challenges, such as long setup and integration times, product boundaries that hamper performance and reliability, incoherent and proprietary software, and a lack of developer-friendly features.

Oxide Computer aims to address these pain points through its holistic approach to server design and cloud software integration. As highlighted in their presentation, these issues lead to "set up and integration times measured in months, product boundaries that hamper performance, impact reliability, and limit efficiency, incoherent, proprietary software propagates security vulnerabilities, and a hostile environment to developers with APIs as a second class citizen."

The Oxide Computer Approach: Rack-Level Hardware and Cloud Software Design

Oxide Computer takes a radically different approach to data center design by focusing on the rack level rather than individual servers. Brian Cantrell explained, "When you do that, a bunch of things can immediately happen. One is that you can change the geometry. There's way, way, way more compute that's running. There is much less noise, and 5x the workloads are being run here versus legacy branded servers."

This approach aligns with the vision of industry leaders like Urs Holzle, SVP Engineering at Google, who stated, "We're doing our hardware because we were thinking much more about the data center as a computer, rather than a single box as the computer, and that pushes you in a different direction."

The Power of Vertical Integration

One of the critical differentiators of Oxide Computer is its commitment to vertical integration. They can ensure optimal performance and reliability by designing and building their own hardware and software stack. Steve Tuck emphasized this point: "The only companies that have solved for that went vertical and took on the entire design. We were talking to one of the earliest folks at AWS who said, AWS didn't stand on their own two feet until we threw out a third-party commercial switch and designed it into our racks." This approach allows Oxide Computer to deliver a truly optimized solution that meets the needs of modern enterprises.

Empowering Software Teams With Comprehensive Services

Oxide Computer's solutions are designed with software teams in mind. Their goal is to provide a platform that enables developers to focus on building applications rather than worrying about infrastructure. Their Oxide Virtual Private Cloud offers virtualized networking capabilities, allowing users to create, organize, and isolate project-specific networks across all their Oxide racks. The solutions also provide on-demand virtual machines, distributed block storage, and features like on-demand snapshots and proactive data protection powered by OpenZFS. 

As Steve Tuck said, "Basically, it's just like, how do you make that in software form? You can have much more capacity you would like than you ship."

Enhancing Security Measures

Oxide Computer strongly emphasizes security, offering features like software attestation and secret sharing to protect against various attacks and vulnerabilities. They ensure customer data protection through a trust quorum and provide auditability, allowing customers to monitor their risk profile and quickly patch vulnerabilities. As highlighted in the presentation, "70% of organizations that do not have a firmware upgrade plan will be breached due to a firmware vulnerability," according to Gartner.

Efficiency and Cost Savings

Oxide Computer's focus on efficiency is achieved through its hyperscale design, system-wide optimization, and newfound observability. By using rack-level power delivery, end-to-end airflow design, and telemetry, it significantly reduces power draw and provides customers with insights into power utilization across both hardware and software.

Brian Cantrill emphasized the impact of their approach, "If you get a rack of commodity servers, 30% of your power is going just to run the fans. That's truly criminal."

Improved Economics and Operational Benefits

Oxide Computer's solution enables customers to achieve a shorter time to value, improved resource efficiency, and lower operational overhead. Their presentation highlights real-world examples, such as reducing the time from delivery to developer access from 100 days to just one day, achieving a 12X faster end-to-end data transformation workflow, and enabling deployment speeds to go from hours to seconds via their self-service, fully programmable environment.

Brian said, "In the past, we’d ship one of these typical data center racks in the US with 1200 to 1300 CPU cores. It would require 1213 kW of power. That was usually the upper bound for enterprises. Now we ship an Oxide Computer rack, with more than 2000 cores using the same 1213 kW of power." This empowers software teams to innovate and deliver value faster than ever before. Fifty-four percent more compute with the same energy use.

The Future of Cloud Computing

As organizations migrate their workloads to the cloud, the demand for efficient, scalable, and cost-effective solutions will only grow. Oxide Computer is at the forefront of this revolution with its cutting-edge solutions, commitment to customer success, and deep expertise in the field. Steve Tuck summed it up: "Our longer-term ambitions are that we are a major player in this transition that is going to happen on premises from the old enterprise virtualization world to a future that is all cloud computing."

Partnering for Success

Oxide Computer is committed to partnering with its customers to ensure their success. They work closely with each organization to understand their unique needs and challenges and develop tailored solutions. Steve explained, "Our focus is again on making all of them successful. We work broadly across federal governments and financial services, healthcare, and others to help them move towards that future of having pure cloud computing on-premises in an environment they control."

The Road Ahead

The future looks bright as Oxide Computer continues to innovate and push the boundaries of what's possible in cloud computing. With their cutting-edge solutions, commitment to customer success, and deep expertise in the field, they are well-positioned to lead the charge in the next era of cloud computing. 

As Brian Cantrill put it, "We're very future-focused. One of the things I love is Silicon Valley history. Control Data was where Seymour Cray worked before working for Cray Computer. Here is a memo TJ Watson, the son of Thomas J. Watson, famously sent after the announcement of the CDC 6600.  He pointed out that the laboratory that developed the mainframe computer system only had 34 people, including the janitor. Of these, 14 are engineers, four are programmers, and only one has a PhD or other engineer programmer. He's sending this memo to IBM, questioning how a tiny team at CDC can move faster than IBM with all of its resources."

This innovation mindset and pushing the boundaries is at the core of Oxide Computer's DNA. Organizations across industries will benefit from their groundbreaking solutions and expertise as they continue to disrupt the data center landscape.


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