The race to combine powerful hardware and Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology continues, as startup Pluribus Networks and the $1B+ server intergrator Super Micro Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: SMCI) today announced they have partnered on a high-powered server platform that includes Intel Atom-powered blade servers, layer 2/3 Ethernet switching, and Pluribus’ Software Defined Networking (SDN) operating system.
The deal shows the trend behind strategic partnerships among a new generation of SDN startups and larger hardware companies looking to build more flexible and scaleable platforms for data centers and high-performance computing applications — often referred to as “white box” solutions, in which the hardware can be loaded with various software options from different vendors.
Super Micro, a public company, is a global vendor of server systems, with $1.4B in revenue. It will package Pluribus Netvisor operating system on MicroBlade’s microserver platform. The microserver platform is powered by Intel Atom and FM5224 Ethernet switch chips. Super Micro’s MicroBlades will combine 112 8-core Atom nodes in a 6 unite (6U) rack, though the company says a typical configuration includes 7 Microblades in a 42U rack, which amounts to 784 servers for data-center applications. It can be scaled up to as many as 8 racks and 4,480 servers.
The server solution will be available by end of Q2 2014. List pricing in the United States will be $55K for a fully loaded system and $30K for 1⁄2 loaded system.
“We’ve taken the white box scenario one step further by extending the networking intelligence throughout the rack,” said Dave Ginsburg, Chief Marketing Officer with Pluribus. “What this provides is it creates a single point of management and control. We can leverage our analytics and visibly capabilities. This is something that’s not available in a traditional white box environment.”
The deal fits the mold of a new breed of partnerships coupling powerful hardware companies, which have large sales channels, with SDN startups that sell modular software components. An example is Dell’s recent deals with both Cumulus Networks and Big Switch, startups that are building software components of SDN.
The Super Micro deal includes Pluribus OS, but it does not include the company’s additional routing, management, and analytics software, which is sold separately.
It’s a big boost for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Pluribus, which has about 75 employees. Pluribus now has several large channel partners, including Micro Server, Oracle, and Tibco Software. Pluribus can now use the Super Micro channel as an opportunity to sell its add-on software for management and analytics software. Pluribus added analytics capabilities to its platform earlier this year.
Pluribus was founded in April 2010 by Sunay Tripathi, Robert Drost, and C.K. Ken Yank. It is backed by NEA, Menlo Ventures, Mohr Davidow, China Broadband, and AME Cloud Ventures. In 2012 it raised a $23 million C round on top of a $17.5M B round in April of 20111.