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Oz company builds VSANs on Open Compute kit

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Facebook's hope that its open compute project (OCP) would bring hyperscale-style innovation to the world is bearing fruit, with an Australian company revealing a range of converged infrastructure and virtual SAN products using its server designs.

The company in question, Infrx, is currently a tiny affair with just four staff. But that hasn't stopped it from working with Facebook, striking up a relationship with hyperscale kit-makers Quanta and Wiwynn and releasing a range of products.

Those products include a pre-configured storage area network based on VMware's VSAN, plus stack-in-a-box rigs running either Hyper-V, OpenStack or Hadoop, with Cumulus in the background handling software-defined networking duties. The products have been designed in close collaboration with software vendors: Whithouse said senior VMware staff assisted with the design of the VSAN rig while Infrx's Metacloud offering is based on templates used to deploy the stack at Disney and Australian telco Telstra.

Founder Mark Whithouse told The Reg business users in Australia know of OCP, appreciate the low acquisition and operating costs it offers and feel it represents a chance to improve their operations. Price is a big factor. Whitehouse is a veteran of a few enterprise storage vendors and says in his experience Australian companies pay $AUD1.98 per gigabyte. Infrx can deliver at 30 cents a gigabyte, he says.

No customer has written the company a cheque as yet, but Whithouse says he expects a couple of sales in the next week. The prospects operate at substantial, but not hyper, scale, reflecting Infrx's belief that OCP kit can make it into smaller data centres.

Perhaps as interesting as Infrx's offerings is Whitehouse's trip to visit Facebook to research the company. On that trip he says he saw an assembly facility where Intel personnel told him they were installing 1,000 CPU sockets each week to feed Facebook's server farms.

Infrx is selling in Australia and New Zealand for now, but Whitehouse says the company's links in the OCP community means sales beyond the South Pacific may be possible. The company is currently funded from the founders' pockets and while discussions with investors are welcome, they're not being actively pursued as Whitehose and his colleagues feel that OCP-based infrastructure's main attraction is price. If investors become involved, he fears they'll force higher prices on the company and destroy the advantages OCP confers.

Infrx is not alone offering stack-in-a-box products: NetApp and Cisco's FlexPod, Oracle's engineered systems and VCE all have similar products. The likes of Scale Computing do likewise with a white box server offering. Let's see how the injection of OCP's ultra-efficient kit shakes up the market, shall we? ®

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