Click here to close now.


SDN Journal Authors: Stefan Dietrich, Elizabeth White, Peter Silva, Pat Romanski, Don MacVittie

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Agile Computing, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Flourishing ARM Server Market Creates Opportunity – for Software

NextGen Server Platform Create Demand for Software

"There's a new class of technologies poised to shake up the Server market - the Microserver, sometimes called the ARM Server.  But the Microserver will do more than shake up the X86 server market.  It is going to shake up the software market as well."  That's the message software and technology executive Chris Piedmonte, CEO and founder of Austin, TX-based Suvola Corporation delivered as we discussed the topic over coffee earlier this week.

As I wrote in "ARM Server Microservers Seek to Transform Cloud, Big Data", ARM Server represents an entirely new generation of highly parallel server-on-a-chip ("SoC") computing that offers compelling benefits for many enterprise-class applications.  And some analysts, including Oppenheimer's Equity Research group predict that these new ARM Servers will take a 20% bite out of that $45 Billion traditional Server market by 2016.  That's big news.

Chris' 30-year background in enterprise application software and highly scalable parallel systems gives him a unique and valuable perspective on this.   He's well- known for being the principal inventor of a revolutionary new mathematical data management technology - and from 2005 to 2012 was the cofounder and CTO of a company focused on employing massively parallel systems to implement this data processing technology.

Microserver Predictions

Chris Piedmonte

Founder/CEO of Austin, TX-based Suvola Corporation

His work in data management and Internet technologies has been granted 8 U.S. and international patents.


Chris' enthusiasm about the technology is evident, "I first became aware of Microservers when researching new technologies for accelerating data management systems."  He continued to tell me how he quickly realized that these systems were more than just a densely-packaged parallel processing platform.  "The technology included a high bandwidth network fabric, vastly reduced power consumption and integrated management technologies.  With the ability to package dozens and dozens of servers into a single chassis, I realized that this technology could be the next step in enterprise server technology," he continued.

Ask him about the current state of the Microserver market, and he's quite clear - it's early stage, but is going to ramp at a remarkable rate because ARM Servers are highly suitable for many mainstream enterprise computing needs.  "Microservers will begin to take hold in the enterprise starting in 2014.  These systems will be initially used as file and media servers, network infrastructure hardware such as web servers, load balancers, SSL encoders/decoders and such.  They will then begin to be used as LAMP stack [Author's note:  LAMP is a combination of free, open source software. The acronym LAMP refers to the first letters of Linux (operating system), Apache HTTP Server, MySQL (database software), and PHP, Perl or Python (programming languages) - principal components to build a viable general purpose web server] implementations for SaaS offerings and eventually for full enterprise transactional and big data systems.  Cloud providers will also embrace the technology as a means of providing Cloud services for less money due to the vastly lower power requirements and dense packaging.  If the analysts have it right, 20 percent of the enterprise server technology will be Microserver based in the next several years.

Opportunity for Software Vendors
"This platform needs enterprise software specifically designed for this platform.  The benefits that the server technology will bring to the enterprise are clear, but the current state of the industry doesn't have a large group of companies providing software ... in fact, it's difficult to find any enterprise software for the ARM-based Microserver platforms.  A large, untapped market is being created.  That's why I founded Suvola - to help speed up the adoption of this next generation technology by providing the enterprise software required to make complete solutions based on this server technology."

Mr. Piedmonte has high hopes for the ARM Server market - and some pretty big ambitions for his company - "Suvola intends to move quickly to become the leading enterprise software company delivering products for the ARM-based Microserver market.  As the market is expected to grow to over $10B in less than four years, Suvola will be there to help create it.  Suvola has been developing relationships with the key IP licensees like Applied Micro and Imagination Technologies, SoC chip providers like Calxeda and ARM, chassis companies like Boston Limited, Penguin Computing, AAEON/Asus, MBX Systems and others.  We are working with all these companies to help shape and guide the technology providers to create great platforms for enterprise software."

The Verdict
Chris tells a compelling story.  People far smarter than I am see the promise in this emerging market.  One such person is Gartner Group co-founder David Stein, who commented "the advent of Microserver systems incorporating hundreds to thousands of processors well may revolutionize enterprise computing".

Various research groups have estimated the ARM Server market to be between 10% (HIS iSuppli Research) and 20% of the Server market by 2016.  Already this year, Microservers are on target to hit 290,000 units versus 88,000 last year - a stunning 230% year-on-year growth rate.

Given their diminutive size (you can fit dozens quad-core servers into the space used by a single traditional server), their "green computing" appeal (a Calxeda ECX-1000 quad-core Server with build-in Ethernet, SATA Controllers and 80 Gigabit Interconnect Switch uses only about 5 Watts of power at full power), and promises of better reliability at a reduced total cost of ownership - I think Mr. Piedmonte's enthusiasm is warranted.

Challenges Facing the ARM Server Market
This discussion would not be complete without acknowledging some of the challenges facing the Microserver.  When I ask Chris about why Microservers aren't more prevalent, given their compelling advantages, he drives home the point that "impressive hardware isn't enough", and then elaborates on this point - "for this market to take off, we need solutions based on the technology, not just servers with operating systems and Java compatibility."

He then continues to identify what he sees as the root cause of this:  "the big software vendors aren't paying attention to this space right now - there aren't enough servers being shipped to merit the investment.  And very few ARM developers are experienced in enterprise-class computing - they're focused on platforms like tablets and cell phones, and that's an entirely different mindset."

As Dave Stein notes with respect to ARM Server software, "It remains to be seen how drastic will be the hardware and software architectural changes needed to accommodate the transition from minimal multiprocessing to massively-parallel multiprocessing, but it's a good bet they will be substantial."

It's clear that neither the traditional set of ARM developers nor the traditional X86 software developers have what it takes to exploit the massive parallel capabilities of the ARM Server platform - building and optimizing software for scalability in  massively parallel systems requires a mindset and skillset that few traditional software developers or architects in either of those camps possess.

The opportunity for software (and hardware) vendors in the Microserver market is tremendous, and the challenges are significant.  But if anyone can make this happen, it'll be folks like Chris and his team at Suvola.


Note: The author of this article works for Dell. The opinions stated are his own personal opinions vs. those of his employer.

More Stories By Hollis Tibbetts

Hollis Tibbetts, or @SoftwareHollis as his 50,000+ followers know him on Twitter, is listed on various “top 100 expert lists” for a variety of topics – ranging from Cloud to Technology Marketing, Hollis is by day Evangelist & Software Technology Director at Dell Software. By night and weekends he is a commentator, speaker and all-round communicator about Software, Data and Cloud in their myriad aspects. You can also reach Hollis on LinkedIn – His latest online venture is OnlineBackupNews - a free reference site to help organizations protect their data, applications and systems from threats. Every year IT Downtime Costs $26.5 Billion In Lost Revenue. Even with such high costs, 56% of enterprises in North America and 30% in Europe don’t have a good disaster recovery plan. Online Backup News aims to make sure you all have the news and tips needed to keep your IT Costs down and your information safe by providing best practices, technology insights, strategies, real-world examples and various tips and techniques from a variety of industry experts.

Hollis is a regularly featured blogger at ebizQ, a venue focused on enterprise technologies, with over 100,000 subscribers. He is also an author on Social Media Today "The World's Best Thinkers on Social Media", and maintains a blog focused on protecting data: Online Backup News.
He tweets actively as @SoftwareHollis

Additional information is available at

All opinions expressed in the author's articles are his own personal opinions vs. those of his employer.

@CloudExpo Stories
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user e...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving t...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
In recent years, at least 40% of companies using cloud applications have experienced data loss. One of the best prevention against cloud data loss is backing up your cloud data. In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sam McIntyre, Partner Enablement Specialist at eFolder, presented how organizations can use eFolder Cloudfinder to automate backups of cloud application data. He also demonstrated how easy it is to search and restore cloud application data using Cloudfinder.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and t...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.