Dell & Apache: More than just a donation

Today’s Dell announcement of their donation to the Apache Software Foundation is a huge milestone not only for Calxeda but the entire ARM server ecosystem. Supporting and engaging the open-source community has always been a high priority for the Round Rock based company, evidenced by their contributions and leadership in multiple open-source projects like OpenStack and other Apache projects. But this particular announcement is more than just a generous donation to a non-profit foundation.

Here’s why:

  1. Another tier-1 OEM supports ARM-based servers.This is quite obvious, but worth stating explicitly. Dell’s “Zinc” platform based on Calxeda EnergyCore validates the growing need for more power efficient solutions for today’s scale-out applications.

    “Dell believes ARM infrastructures demonstrate promise for web front-end and Hadoop environments, where advantages in performance per dollar and performance per watt are critical…so Dell is providing this community with an ARM-based server concept running Calxeda EnergyCore.”

    We, and our five OEM partners, couldn’t agree more.

  2. Breadth of software availability, today. One of the most frequently asked questions about ARM-based servers is availability of software for the power-efficient platform. Legacy applications excluded, there are plenty of applications available today for this architecture. Working with the Apache infrastructure team leading up to this announcement helped demonstrate this – multiple folks were pleasantly surprised at how “it just works”. At Calxeda, we’ve successfully run and demoed a variety of Apache projects, including Apache web server, Hadoop, Cassandra, and others. If you’re looking for a scale-out workload, chances are the software already exists for ARM.
  3. ARM promoted to first-class server architecture. Within the first 24-hours of making this hardware available, we had a dozen Apache projects targeting the “Zinc” platform as part of their continuous integration platform. Over the next few weeks, as word spreads amongst the Apache community, I would be shocked if we didn’t see additional Apache projects begin leveraging this generous donation as well. But why is this important? It’s important because the ARM architecture will now be fully integrated into the development lifecycle. When code gets checked-in for a project, the same tests that run on x86-systems today also get validated and tested against ARM.
  4. Opportunity for optimization in the open. Being integrated into the development lifecycle means that the community can be confident in testing and validating ARM-based optimizations for their projects. Prior to this, much of the effort was left as an exercise for either the system vendors or the actual end-user. Today marks the beginning of making real ARM servers available to the community. Here at Calxeda, we intend on leading the software community through this industry transition. We have patches already being committed for projects like Apache Hadoop and will continue to do so for the projects that target the scale-out data centers.

Again, a big thanks to Dell for their thought-leadership in engaging the open-source Apache community in this manner. We will all look back on this day as a significant milestone in helping jumpstart the software ecosystem for all ARM based servers.

PS – For those interested, you can check out the Apache Jenkins CI platform here:

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