Liquid Computing Flows Into the Unified Systems Market

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Dec 4, 2009


Liquid Computing has teamed up with Intel to provide a system known as Liquid Elements to compete with the likes of Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and HP BladeSystem in the all-in-one box market. For now, though, the company expects to mainly go up against the latter until such time as the former has established a stronger foothold in the market.

Hard-Core Hardware: Cisco Unified Computing System and HP BladeSystem currently lead in the all-in-one box market, but they may soon face stiff competition from upstart Liquid Computing.

"While there is significant hype around Cisco UCS and similar offerings, the reality is that the vast majority of data centers today are evaluating traditional infrastructure offerings such as HP BladeSystem c-Class servers," said Vikram Desai, CEO of Liquid Computing based in Stamford, Conn.

The company originally released LiquidIQ which is a combined hardware and software unit. This x86-based blade architecture has built-in redundancy and hot swappable components throughout. Each chassis can hold up to 20 blades, and each blade can utilize up to 128 GB memory per blade.

The chassis used in LiquidIQ has a high-throughput https://cdev.iworld.com/index.php?action=Logout&forward=login design to reduce cabling requirements and includes fan as well as alarm interface units. It can be AC or DC powered, and can have single or dual power supplies. Up to 20 compute blades can go into each chassis, with two 1 Gb and four 10 Gb Ethernet adapters per blade.

Up to 20 compute blades fit into each chassis. These come with two 1 Gb and four 10 Gb Ethernet adapters per blade. The processors inside are either quad-socket or dual-socket AMD Opteron — either dual- or quad-core — and up to 128 GB of memory per blade. LiquidIQ fabric control software is used for remote management of all hardware elements. The LiquidIQ interface can also interact with any third-party iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) storage.

According to Desai, customers choose LiquidIQ because it offers the same savings on power and space consumption as traditional blade systems, while reducing administrative costs, resulting in a higher total Return on Investment.

"Our customers are seeing significant costs savings from LiquidIQ, but have told us they don't want to be locked in it one vendor for the integrated solution," said Desai.

Liquid Elements

After its initial success with LiquidIQ, the company decided to take things a step further via Liquid Elements. The intention behind it is to deliver unified computing without having to specify the hardware infrastructure side of things. It is beginning this process by combining its software with brands such as Intel and NetApp.

Liquid Elements, for example, supports Intel's Xeon 5500-based SR1680MV modularized rack server, which offers two independent dual socket/18DIMM servers in a 1U chassis that can fit in a standard rack. This Intel server can support up to four Intel Xeon 5500 processors and up to 288GB RAM.

It is used in conjunction with: Liquid Elements fabric control software for remote management of servers, networking and storage components through a single interface; Liquid Elements fabric module which provides management and control, and 10Gb Ethernet fabric switching in a 4U chassis; and Liquid switched network adapters for enhanced remote management, configuration and networking control.

"The result is a complete data center in a box that combines the cost-savings and management flexibility of unified computing from Liquid Computing with the breakthrough processing speed, memory and density of servers from Intel," said Desai. "The system is also designed to cost effectively scale from the smallest through the largest of implementations."

According to Desai, combining Liquid Elements with the Intel server provides significantly lower costs through a 10:1 reduction in provisioning time, 2:1 reduction in space utilization and a 10:1 reduction in cabling compared to traditional architectures.

This also eliminates the all-or-nothing proposition of systems like Cisco UCS that dictate a one-stop shop for hardware. With Liquid Elements, data center managers can maintain their current vendor relationships while adding a unified computing system that centrally manages all application infrastructure including servers, networking, and storage. That applies only to Intel and NetApp for now, although other vendors will be added later.

"With Liquid Elements, resellers and their customers can now maintain their current vendor relationships while adding the cost-savings and management flexibility of a unified computing system," said Desai.

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he was originally from Scotland where he received a degree in Geology/Geography from the University of Strathcyle. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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