How phoenixNAP Delivers First-to-Market Tech for the Best Price
For the typical customer used to operating their own infrastructure, the process to upgrade to a new generation of server can be long and cumbersome—not to mention expensive. It likely involves some back and forth with a value-added reseller, more conversations between the reseller and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) about pricing, and then another month or two after placing an order before a company begins a data center deployment.
Deployment will take more coordination with various internal teams. Testing doesn’t even begin for four months—and that timeline is probably generous for most organizations.
Compare that delivery system to the phoenixNAP way: A potential customer can log into our platform right now and we can dedicate a new server to them in 90 seconds and only pay for the resources they use—which could be as little as $2.
I am the president and one of the co-founders of phoenixNAP, along with William Bell, our EVP of Product. We’re all technologists at heart, and being part of a company that strives to be first-to-market with the technologies we believe in—that we can actually deliver—makes our day-to-day job fun and gives us a sense of accomplishment in seeing results for our clients.
We saw an increase in customer growth during the pandemic, when everyone faced supply issues and even enterprise customers got caught needing new infrastructure between typical refresh cycles and didn’t have the upfront capital for new purchases during that tough time. Since then, more businesses have come around to the value of our consumption-based model that allows them to try the latest technology while getting the most bang for their buck.
There's a beauty in being mid-sized: We have more control over our destiny than larger organizations and still have the resources to engage in rapid product development to stay ahead of the market while being realistic in what we can deliver. And what we deliver is best-of-breed data center technologies as a service, based on customer demand.
Following Customer Demand: Why Clients Are Pushing for ARM
Bare Metal Cloud is our flagship product and where we focus a lot of our software development. For customers that want to set up enterprise-grade infrastructure, Bare Metal Cloud allows them to deploy and manage pre-configured, dedicated high-performance physical servers with cloud-like ease. We also offer hardware-as-a-service for clients with stricter compliance or isolation needs. With our pay-per-use model, clients can pay by the hour or take advantage of further savings by reserving servers monthly or yearly.
Bare Metal Cloud developed from customer demand, and so did our more recent project to deliver more high compute resources.
We aren’t replacing any of our existing architecture here. Instead, we’re adding to our stack by embracing something that, for the first time, isn’t X86-based. Developers have been requesting ARM-based solutions for years. It makes sense: ARM processors are now a mature technology, and after its proliferation in mobile and gaming spaces, developers started asking how we could scale it. Each individual ARM processor might have less raw performance than other processors, but ARM’s energy efficiency allows you to put more of them in a package.
Customers who are building modern cloud-native applications are either developing them in AWS or ARM (with the associated improvements in performance and cost efficiency), or they are looking for an alternative cloud offering, and they expect that offering to have an ARM option. We also have customers with large densities of generic scalable applications who are looking for cost savings.
Cloudified metal, or metal-as-a-service, is a very small competitive landscape, and we are always striving to differentiate. Only one of our competitors had an ARM option, and they were getting all that business. But up till now, moving to ARM wasn’t in the cards for phoenixNAP because the market had yet to adopt an enterprise-grade server-based solution. But the supply chain constraints in 2021/2022 highlighted our need for a secondary validated infrastructure provider, and kicked the project into high gear.
Finally, an Enterprise-Grade ARM Solution
For an energy-efficient way to deliver high-compute resources, phoenixNAP landed on the HPE ProLiant RL300 Gen 11 server.
We chose this solution from HPE for several reasons:
- We would achieve our vendor diversification goals with an enterprise-grade vendor.
- The HPE ProLiant RL300 performed better in testing against solutions from other manufacturers.
- HPE was further ahead in this technology, delivering Ampere ARM processors where others don’t.
- They offered competitive pricing.
- It offers superior energy efficiency, using less power than the closest competitors.
- HPE has two Cyber Catalyst designations, which will become increasingly important as our platform becomes more compliance-focused, especially for clients in the PCI, SLED, and healthcare verticals.
- The HPE server automation and management components are the same across X86 and ARM, making for easy management.
The buildup to this project was years in the making, but the actual deployment took only six months from picking the vendor to launching it on our platform. We were the first trade order for the HPE ProLiant RL300 Gen 11 server, and HPE honored the promised delivery time frame. That goes a long way with us, since some vendors do not honor their commitments in the same way. Onboarding was not difficult, either. The HPE ProLiant RL300 and the HPE Integrated Lights-Out (ILO) server management system are both compatible with our existing automation platform, which made onboarding a lot easier.
Choice, Efficiency, and Capacity for International Growth
The deployment is recent, but we have already seen some big wins. One of those is vendor diversification. Since we are now HPE-certified, we can easily expand into the HPE ecosystem as they come out with new product offerings.
We can also fulfill customer demand for ARM-based architectures, as well as help customers compare between X86 and ARM platforms. We have already done quite a bit with this on the marketing and sales engineering side. Our sales team is now working on providing more consultation to our clients on these comparisons.
Another major benefit is capacity and power planning. We have some customers with heavy compute requirements who want to expand through international deployments. Power consumption and optimization are going to become bigger issues, not only from an ecological perspective, but also in terms of what a facility can support. Facilities that can find a cost-effective way to optimize power and capacity will be in greater demand. As our customers focus on international growth, the HPE ProLiant RL300 Gen 11 server will help them leverage more market-standard data centers that may have a third of the power availability.
We have a lot of enterprise customers who are going down the sustainability path and have their own in-house metrics, which are now expanding to infrastructure. We are having more conversations around this with our clients. Having performed our own benchmarking, we can confirm the HPE ProLiant RL300 consumes less power than its competitors. We’ve also seen 2–3X efficiency increases, depending on the application, in terms of application performance per watt.
It’s also a positive that for all these performance and efficiency improvements, I haven’t had to compromise security—HPE does a great job on built-in processor security.
A Partnership That Leads to More First-to-Market Tech
HPE is committed to helping customers acquire infrastructure in whatever way makes sense. Throughout this project, HPE has been very supportive, coming with resources to tackle every challenge we encountered. We also use the HPE Alletra Storage via HPE GreenLake, and our adoption of the HPE ProLiant RL300 will only further our standardization and exploration of other HPE products and services.
The HPE ProLiant servers are just one aspect of our partnership with HPE. Earlier this year we joined the HPE Partner Ready Program, one of the most respected partner programs in the industry. Through this program we receive the tools, resources, and training we need to provide our customers with appropriate solutions, faster.
Being first to market is integral to what we do, because it allows us to be the first to learn the lessons of that product, and to help the product mature. We’ve always believed in meeting customers where they are, to get them the right product at the right time. For customers looking to make their next transformative upgrade, phoenixNAP beats larger providers by six months.
Most of our customers are waiting, sometimes impatiently, for us to have the latest tech so they can take advantage of it. Through our consumption-based, as-a-service model, our customers get access to that latest technology ahead of the curve, without the typical upfront CapEx.
Increasingly, the key to offering new tech is through a flexible consumption model. We are changing the way that infrastructure in the data center is consumed, ensuring that customers get access to the latest and greatest technologies, instantaneously.