Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Startup Gains Backing for its Converged Datacenter Scheme 

Investment banker Goldman Sachs has been spreading the cash around lately through a series of investments in enterprise technologies ranging from big data to application infrastructure. It's latest foray combines a new datacenter approach with an operational analytics twist.

Startup Vapor IO, Austin, Texas, which emerged from stealth mode in March, said Thursday (Dec. 3) that Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) led a Series A funding round that also included AVX Partners. Executive from both investment firms will join Vapor IO's board.

Vapor IO said the funds would be used to expand its datacenter engineering and development teams along with accelerating product development. It did not disclose the amount of funding raised in the investment round.

The startup is attempting to remake the datacenter sector with a hyper-collapsed approach that adds intelligence to the equation by including workloads “as a critical data point” for calculating efficiency in heretofore disconnected datacenters.

Since emerging last spring, the startup has focused on "building a telemetry-optimized datacenter analytics company whose mission is to modernize today’s legacy infrastructure,” Vapor IO CEO Cole Crawford, noted in a statement announcing the funding round. Crawford is the co-founder of OpenStack and former executive director of the Open Compute Project.

The company also is seeking to leverage datacenter analytics to automate datacenters that have traditionally separated physical assets from applications.

It "soft-launched" the new datacenter capability earlier this year during an Open Compute Project summit with the introduction of a datacenter runtime environment designed to help operators monitoring sensors that connect datacenter operations up to the operating system and workloads. According to Crawford, "We are striving to move the industry in a direction that includes the workload as a critical data point for efficiency measurement."

Financial servicers powerhouses like Goldman Sachs and Fidelity Investments have emerged as key drivers of open source standards through groups like the Open Compute Project founded by Facebook. Along with datacenter efforts, Goldman also helped broker an application container specification last summer.

Goldman Sachs, Fidelity and other investors also have been busy deploying open-source technologies in their own datacenters.

VaporI/O’s design essentially compresses critical datacenter components in a "micro-module environment," the startup said. It unveiled the design for its hyper-collapsed datacenter called "Vapor Chamber" last spring and debuted a full-up version at an industry exhibition last month. The design is intended to increase density while reducing operating costs when deploying compute and storage resources.

The startup released the latest version of its OpenDCRE (datacenter runtime environment) in November billed as an API and related infrastructure used to monitor and manage datacenter workloads. The approach also is said to do away with costly networking gear and management controllers, instead using power line communications over a DC bus as the primary data transport mechanism.

The startup also said in a blog post it has we have developed a lightweight Linux distribution running on single-board Raspberry Pi computers, and includes support for Docker application containers.


About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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