The New York-based provider’s Type 2A service, announced yesterday, provides servers that run two 48-core Cavium ThunderX chips. The selling point is the price; at 50 cents per hour, Type 2A costs about 10 percent as much as the corresponding Intel x86 option, Packet says.
Packet CEO Zachary Smith purports to be a fan of the ARM architecture, but his company also has an indirect connection to ARM. The investor that led Packet’s $9.4 million Series A funding in August was SoftBank, which in September completed its $32 billion acquisition of ARM Holdings.
ARM designs processor architectures that other companies, such as Cavium, build into chips. ARM is best known for smaller chips that go into smartphones, but it’s making a play for the data center with the ARMv8 architecture, which is the basis of the ThunderX chips.
Softlayer of 2016
Plenty of large cloud players have bare-metal options, but bare metal isn’t necessarily for the faint of heart. “Bare metal” refers to servers provided without software, not even an operating system. That’s what makes them attractive to some developers; they can wrest more performance from the CPU because it isn’t running extraneous software. Packet takes the idea a step further by not having customers share servers and by not running a hypervisor on its servers
“It’s not exactly a SoftLayer of 2016, but a lot like it,” Smith says, referring to the bare metal cloud startup acquired by IBM in 2013. “I really believe if Lance [Crosby, SoftLayer’s former CEO] was building a company in 2016, it would look a lot like Packet.”
Packet emphasizes its youth as a selling point, noting that its cloud was built for the age of containers and automation. It supports common developer tools, particularly in the container realm — Docker Machine and Rancher being two examples. “Developers don’t want to change tooling just for you,” Smith says.
The company also offers a private deployment option, where its control panel, APIs, and automation tools run on a customers’ own servers. In this case, Packet essentially becomes an alternative to OpenStack; it’s a way to “developer-enable dumb hardware in your data center,” Smith says.
Packet has raised $11.15 million between a seed round and the Series A. The company employs about 30 people.