A cloud in every data center

Today: Oxide Computer's modern take on the data-center server is ready for its big test, why AWS is happy with flat growth, and the latest moves in enterprise tech.

A cloud in every data center
A storage drive on Oxide's Cloud Computer, now generally available. Credit: Oxide

Welcome to Runtime! Today: Oxide Computer's modern take on the data-center server is ready for its big test, why AWS is happy with flat growth, and the latest moves in enterprise tech.

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But does it come in purple

The rise of cloud computing was not just a transition from owning computers to renting them; it also ushered in an entirely new way of consuming enterprise computing resources that was scalable and flexible. Oxide Computer is a bet that enterprise tech wants to run the cloud operating model in its own data centers, and its take on a cloud server for the masses is now generally available.

The Cloud Computer is a server for on-premises computing in which the hardware and management software were designed to work in tandem. Despite the billions of dollars spent on cloud computing each year, there are still lots of companies that need to manage their own data centers for security or latency reasons and struggle to match the flexibility of cloud resources that can scale up and down with demand.

  • "Those folks right now have been denied the modernity of cloud computing," said Bryan Cantrill, co-founder and CTO. "In order to be able to solve that problem, you need to be able to actually integrate and co-design hardware and software together."
  • The Cloud Computer is a cabinet the size of a large industrial refrigerator that can hold up to 32 individual servers Oxide calls "sleds," which can be added or removed on the fly to increase or decrease computing capacity.
  • The servers use one AMD EPYC 7713p processor per sled, can accommodate up to 32TBs of memory, and use custom-designed networking hardware that is integrated into the back of the cabinet. 

Customers can interact with the server through a web console to provision infrastructure just like they were setting up a new virtualized instance on a Big Three cloud provider, and it provides multitenancy through a custom-designed hypervisor.

  • All the software behind the scenes is open source, but there's an ongoing subscription fee for software updates and bug fixes.
  • Perhaps the most tricky but essential cloud infrastructure design point that Oxide borrowed from the hyperscalers comes at the firmware level, the low-level software that controls the various components that allow servers to boot up and launch an operating system.
  • "The thing boots like a rocket," Cantrill said. "We control the software all the way up to the base levels of the control plane, the web console and so on, so we're able to deliver that iPhone-like experience."

Oxide plans to use $44 million in new funding to expand the capabilities of the Cloud Computer, such as adding GPUs to the sleds for AI processing.

  • "We're obviously really interested in what's happening with GPGPUs (general-purpose GPUs), but we really needed to solve this mainstream compute problem first," Cantrill said. 

There's been a fair amount of debate over the last couple of years about "cloud repatriation," the idea that companies with an established sense of how their workloads run might be better off rolling their own data centers the old-fashioned way rather than paying cloud providers.

  • Oxide's Cloud Computer could be an interesting signal as to how many people actually want to do that.
  • "We believe cloud computing is the future of computing," said Steve Tuck, co-founder and CEO. "And to be able to support that model, it cannot be gate-kept in a rental-only medium; companies and businesses need to have access to cloud computing everywhere their business runs."

Read the full story on Runtime here.


Flat is the new up

AWS continues to slog through one of its most challenging years in recent history, narrowly missing analyst estimates for revenue during its third quarter Thursday but ending six straight quarters of slowing revenue growth.

If only we all had problems like making just $23.06 billion in quarterly revenue, which fell short of analyst estimates of $23.2 billion according to CNBC. That figure represents a 12% increase compared to the same period last year, which is pretty bad compared to AWS's historical performance but a stabilizing sign during a year in which enterprise tech spending has remained tight.

Given how many startups have floundered this year as money became harder to find in a world of rising interest rates, Business Insider wondered if AWS is struggling because its historic reputation as the cloud provider of choice for startups was vulnerable to such a downturn. Still, Microsoft Azure's stronger-than-expected growth during the most recent quarter, three percentage points of which the company attributed to its AI products, exposes a different weakness that AWS has worked very hard this year to downplay.


Enterprise moves

Takeshi Numoto is the new chief marketing officer at Microsoft, replacing Chris Capossela, who is leaving Microsoft after 32 years with the company.

Elizabeth Samara-Rubio is the new chief business officer at SiMa.ai, after leading go-to-market and business development for AWS's AI services.

Abhijit Mitra is the new president of product and technology at Outreach, following similar roles at Commure and ServiceNow.

Niki Hall is the new chief marketing officer at Five9, joining the company after serving as CMO at Contentsquare.


The Runtime roundup

Earnings season is in full bloom: ServiceNow beat analyst estimates for both revenue and profit thanks to a 25% jump in revenue.

Intel's data-center revenue fell 10% but it likewise beat the Wall Street hive mind and raised its forecast for the fourth quarter.

Equinix cut its forecast for annual revenue amid worries that the health of the global economy could force companies to delay investments in data centers.

IBM met forecasts for revenue and profit, but as CNBC pointed out, it's going to have to generate twice as much cash in the fourth quarter as it has for the entire year so far in order to make its annual target.

AWS launched a "sovereign cloud" for European customers that will be used primarily by governments and separated from the rest of its European infrastructure.

Google extended its bug bounty program to cover generative AI applications.


Thanks for reading — see you Saturday!