Oxide Launches the World’s First Commercial Cloud Computer
For four years the leaders of Oxide computers have promised they’re working on “hyperscaler infrastructure for the rest of us.”
And history will record that on Thursday, Oct. 26 — they finally opened up their waitlist and began taking orders…
While major cloud providers roll their own powerful cloud-computing servers, Oxide claims to be selling the first commercial version of an out-of-the-box cloud computer for individual companies that delivers the same massive hyperscale benefits. It’s been “purpose-built” for high-performance computing, networking, and storage, and Oxide is hailing it as “a true rack-scale system with fully unified hardware and software designed for on-premises cloud computing,” according to the company literature.
With catchy slogans like “the power of the cloud in your data center,” Oxide has been saying for years that it’s “building a new kind of server.” And on June 30, Oxide had finally shipped its very first server rack — all 3,000 pounds of it, a milestone that stood more than 9 feet tall.
The first Oxide rack being prepared for customer shipment! pic.twitter.com/ZmDFToDI1b
— Oxide Computer Company (@oxidecomputer) June 30, 2023
The momentum’s been building ever since, and today Oxide revealed an impressive list of current customers. There’s the U.S. Department of Energy — specifically its Idaho National Laboratory (which has historically been involved in nuclear research) — as well as “a well-known financial services firm”. Oxide also announced that within just a few months, there’ll be additional installments at multiple Fortune 1000 companies. And beyond that, Oxide is also boasting that they now have “a long wait list of customers ready to install once production catches up with demand.”
As Chief Technology Officer Bryan Cantrill said on the Software Engineering Daily podcast. “When you solve a hard problem like this and you really broadcast that you intend to solve it… Customers present themselves and say, ‘Hey, we’ve been looking for — thank God someone is finally solving this problem!’”
Not long ago we had a thread about how datacenters could provide cost advantage for a bunch of workloads. What oxide does here is deliver software that enables the rapid deployment and flexibility of the modern cloud on top of hardware designed for the use case.
— Adam Jacob (@adamhjk) October 26, 2023
And for further proof that it’s building up steam, Oxide also announced Thursday that it’s secured $44 million in a Series A round of funding, bringing its total financing to date up to $78 million. Specifically, Oxide’s announcement says this funding round was led by Eclipse with participation from Intel’s corporate venture capital arm Intel Capital, as well as from Riot Ventures, Counterpart Ventures, and Rally Ventures, “to accelerate production for Fortune 1000 enterprises.”
In their announcement, Andy Fligel, senior managing director at Intel Capital, argues that Oxide is addressing the most urgent needs of enterprise IT. “They have eliminated the trade-off between cloud and on-premises,” Fligel wrote in a statement, “so enterprises can achieve cloud performance across every aspect of their business.
“Oxide makes it possible to ‘own the cloud’ instead of renting it — a concept that could shift the economics of cloud computing.”
All the Hopes and Dreams
He’s not the only VC excited about Oxide’s new offering. Will Coffield, a partner at Riot Ventures, quipped that Oxide had “essentially wrapped all the hopes and dreams of a software engineer, IT manager, and a CFO into a single box. It’s best-in-class infrastructure with a clear and obvious return on investment.” Putting it another way, Coffield asserted in a statement that Oxide “provides the first alternative to the public cloud that doesn’t require any sacrifices.”
Thursday’s announcement ticked off the advantages for this new “Cloud Computer.” Besides shipping with all the software needed to run full cloud computing services, Oxide’s new server:
- Uses less space than traditional on-premises infrastructure
- Significantly improves energy efficiency over traditional servers
- Requires no assembly… Oxide customers can go from rack install to developer availability in a matter of hours, compared to weeks or months.
When Oxide delivered its first server in June, Cantrill made a point of telling The New Stack that “the customer has appreciated the transformationally different (and exponentially faster!) process of going from new rack to provisioned VMs.”
In December of 2019, Oxide co-founder Jessie Frazelle wrote in a blog post that “Everyone setting up infrastructure themselves is in a great deal of pain and they have been largely neglected by any existing vendor… Hyperscalers like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have what I like to call ‘infrastructure privilege’ since they long ago decided they could build their own hardware and software to fulfill their needs better than commodity vendors. We are working to bring that same infrastructure privilege to everyone else!”
And Thursday’s announcement from Oxide explicitly spells out the business case for their new product. “Despite the rapid rise of cloud computing, the vast majority of IT infrastructure today continues to live outside the public cloud in on-premises data centers, where enterprises are forced to cobble together a set of disjointed hardware and software components to run their businesses. Since its inception, Oxide’s mission has been to solve this problem…”
Steve Tuck, CEO and co-founder of Oxide, pointed out that cloud computing “remains restricted to a centralized, rental-only model.” There are many reasons why an enteprise might want to own their infrastructure — security, reliability, cost, and response time/latency issues — and as Tuck sees it, “the rental-only model has denied them modern cloud capabilities for these use cases.
“We are changing that.”
Plugging and Playing
It’s not just that Oxide’s server gives companies more control over their hyperscaler operations. “Oxide redesigned the computer from the ground up,” explains an Oxide spokesperson, “unifying hardware and software to make the first cloud computer.” The result is “a designed system that combines dozens of required hardware/vendor components into a single plug-and-play device to bring the velocity of the public cloud to on-premises.
“Power usage is 2x efficient, takes up half the space, and can be up and running in just four hours instead of three months.”
Speaking on the on the Software Engineering Daily podcast, Cantrill gushed about the final “aesthetics” of Oxide’s new rack, calling it “beautiful,” with its sleekly quiet cooling fans. And in June we’d asked Cantrill what the mood was at Oxide after shipping their first server, and he’d answered “The team is excited. It is very rewarding to be able to ship the result of many years of hard work!”