Vapor IO Partners With Bloom Energy To Deliver Carbon-Neutral Computing Facilities

In its bid to disrupt data center orthodoxy, Vapor IO -- an Austin, Texas-based startup that recently emerged from stealth with a small-footprint server rack design and open-source monitoring tools -- partnered Tuesday with Bloom Energy to bring carbon-neutral data centers to dense urban environments.

The Energy Server solid oxide fuel cells pioneered by Bloom, a Silicon Valley developer of clean generators, are ideal for powering Vapor IO's geographically desegregated, hyper-collapsed infrastructure, Cole Crawford, Vapor IO's founder and CEO, told CRN.

"It became quickly obvious that what they were doing around their technology would be really complementary to what Vapor is doing," Crawford said of Bloom Energy.

[Related: Vapor IO Emerges From Stealth Mode Ready To Disrupt The Data Center]

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With Bloom's on-site generators, Vapor IO can squash the carbon footprint of the small data centers it designed to serve the edges of networks -- the kind that run in the tight confines of big cities and will power the emerging Internet of Things, Crawford said.

The startup has developed an open-source API to access the Power Management Bus (PMBus) called Vapor CORE API that offers a standardized interface for measuring and controlling the power usage of specific applications. With data center equipment linked to the PMBus, "we can take that information and start doing big-data analytics on top of it" to maximize efficiency, Crawford said.

By tapping those APIs to access computing infrastructure, Bloom's fuel cells achieve unprecedented energy efficiency levels when measured by actual workloads, he said.

"This becomes an entirely intelligent physical data center that takes the software into account," Crawford told CRN. Vapor is "using Bloom for power generation, and they're using Vapor because the form factors are friendly to what they do."

Evaluating data center efficiency is a complex task.

The most common metric is Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). But Crawford prefers a different, less blunt value: Performance Watt per Dollar (PWD).

The PWD metric actually assesses applications by the energy they use, offering a more-precise method of standardizing efficiency.

It's similar to what eBay does in measuring URLs per kilowatt hour, Crawford said, only more generalized to all types of software.

But regardless of how you measure consumption, Crawford said, "having ties into the energy delivery systems is a huge advantage when you're building out the cost model for your data center."

"We can actually go query their entire power-generation cycle and we can determine how much power is being generated in terms of the workload. We've always been able to measure electricity and base efficiency, but we can now actually take that measurement in terms of the workload," Crawford said.

Such an approach to evaluating efficiency and performance enables quick decisions about optimization. Systems administrators can use the data for real-time rectification -- spinning up or down power requirements based on performance and constraints.

And with the open-source API, Crawford said, other partners can also create interfaces and endpoints that intelligently manage power consumption.

While Vapor IO sells its data center software direct, the physical Vapor Chamber -- the hyper-collapsed server rack -- gets to customers through the channel. Vapor IO is already working with several partners, Crawford said.

Crawford was an OpenStack pioneer, and Vapor IO is currently integrating Vapor CORE API into the popular open-source cloud operating system.

Vapor IO expects to release its joint solution with Bloom in the first quarter of next year.