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Surgient Surges Forward

Surgient (www.surgient.com) announced that its new rack unit server, the eQ2500, received certification from RealNetworks this week, supporting its RealServer IQ platform.

Surgient Network is looking to make a big slash in the data center. Its eQ2500 was designed for "multi-gigabit throughput" and "policy-based traffic control," serving Web, caching, and streaming files. The server is part of Surgient's "eQualibrium" architecture, which the company says reduces the amount of servers necessary to serve Web and streaming content.

"Our platform success depends on application partners such as RealNetworks because of their leading position in the streaming industry," said Nagi Rao, president and CEO of Surgient Networks. "This is an important first step towards our goal of re-inventing data center economics for rich media delivery and other I/O-bound applications."

"Surgient's architecture promises to be an extremely flexible platform for hosting many types of applications, particularly those with high throughput and storage requirements," said Michael Hoch, senior analyst with Aberdeen Group. "Delivering streaming content of any significant duration to a large user base has both of these requirements. As data centers increase the amount of hosted streaming content, they will need products like Surgient's platform to cost effectively serve their user base, and to monitor and bill for that delivery."

Still, Surgient is in beta stage. The company said it is planning commercial shipment later this year.

Changing the Economics of Data Centers

Surgient's mantra is that it is looking to change the economics and landscape of data centers. Rao said that it is converging storage network and compute functions into one 2U device. Part of the whole package, said Rao, is providing quality of service so that customers can handle flash crowd problems.

"This is the kind of thing that changes the economics of streaming to make it more palatable for applications today," said Rao. On top of that, Surgient's box can be used to provision system resources and stream, so service providers can meter streaming usage. Enterprise customers, meanwhile, can use the reporting features for internal chargebacks.

Rao said that one customer had 31 rack unit products for their rich media servers, and had high costs in terms of putting up load balancers, personnel costs and maintenance. "We can replace that entire setup with one 2U platform that does all the functionality," he said, stressing that it would also be at a lower price point. "The implications of the total cost of ownership are fairly obvious," said Rao. "There are fewer items to maintain and update, all of which add up to sizable costs."

Although key customers may lie in data centers, Rao does have other markets in mind. "It can be in corporate data center, in a service provider data center, or at the edge of a network," he said. "Tomorrow, it can sit on other concentration points like DSL and cable headends."

Neal Hartsell, VP of marketing said that the competition comes in two flavors: general purpose systems (like Dell and Compaq servers) and newer appliances (like Midstream and Digital Fountain). Hartsell said that existing appliances mostly deal with part of the equation (like stream serving) rather than the whole task, like Web data, storage and caching.

In the future, Surgient will be looking to support all three major streaming formats, as well as MPEG-4. "There's nothing about our platform where we can't move to standards based solutions," said Rao. Austin-based Surgient received $10 million in first round funding last year, then received another $57 million earlier this year from Austin Ventures, Cisco Systems and Enron Broadband Services, among others.

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