IoT Edge Computing

Packet’s Smaller, Faster and Cheaper Bare Metal Servers

3 Jul 2019 5:00am, by

Bare metal server and software provider Packet says it is actively extending its offering to include smaller boxes with more stringent pay-as-you-use server needs, perfect for DevOps testing and iteration.

Packet continues to mix-and-match its server and software configurations for smaller, faster and ultimately, more cost-efficient server boxes, said Tony Perez, production engineer for Packet, speaking during the sidelines of ContainerDays in Hamburg, Germany last week.

Software developers and system administrators typically don’t spend too much time fretting over server processor speed, and yet, deployments on bare metal servers warrant a second look. A cost-conscious enterprise — invariably any organization — is loath to overpay for larger work-horse server capacity when they can pay for smaller and lighter workloads on a pay-as-you-go basis as needed.

To this end, Packet introduced its compact Ps t2.small.x86 bare metal server. The configuration of what it calls a “tiny and mighty” server consists of an AMD EPYC 3101 processor with four cores and threads with a CPU speed of 2.1Ghz and 8GB RAM, two 10Gbps network interface controllers. The target price will be $0.15/hr. when it releases by end of year.

Packet also plans to offer a new server upgrade in August of its c1.small server. It will consist of an Intel Xeon E-2176G (six cores and a clock speed of 3.7Ghz with 32GB RAM and two 10Gbps NICs at a price point of $0.45/hr.

Speaking about the AMD server, Perez said: “the idea was to upgrade the specs while keeping costs down.” “AMD has helped us out there — we’re able to offer our customers a better cost basis,” Perez said.

The new small servers were designed in response to cloud developers and a “cultural trend,” Zachary Smith, co-founder and CEO at Packet, said. “Micro servers is really about developers and the cloud,” Smith said. “This has taught people that [virtual machines and microservices]  are cheap and relatively available and that the development CI/CD lifecycle is critical,” Smith said.

Packet says it is developing smaller bare metal servers, for nimbler and more cost-efficient workloads.

In some cases, developers might use thousands of instances per day with automated CI processes, Smith said. “This is hard and expensive with big dual-socket boxes. There is also a movement towards more scale out ‘cattle’ clusters, which want to have workload and function moved across independent nodes,” Smith said. “As a bare metal provider, we’re investing in microservers to meet these needs while giving our customers isolation at a hardware level and automation at bare metal/fundamental level.”

Packet’s bare metal servers have been traditionally larger for larger organizations, such as cloud providers, with high-capacity server needs. But as mentioned above, the company is now expanding into smaller boxes. “Our servers had been like pretty beefy” with, for example, 96 cores and 120 GB of memory, Perez said. “We want to lower the tier down as well now,” Perez said. In the near future, Packet plans to scale down its servers with ARM-based processors for lighter workloads.

The open source community will also play a role. “We are looking to make our servers more generic” for certain use cases,” Perez said, “We also want to take better advantage of the open source community, for testing and Edge cases that we may not have necessarily known about.”

Packet is a sponsor of The New Stack.