Startup Pensando's edge compute platform finds a home on HPE's servers

Pensando's edge computing platform is now available across some HPE servers. (Pensando)

Edge computing hardware startup Pensando Systems' Distributed Edge Platform (DSP) is now available across some of HPE's servers, including the ProLiant, Apollo and Edgeline server platforms. Pensando's DSP is also available on HPE's Greenlake service to enable a cloud-like experince for on premises infrastructure.

Pensando's DSP, which is based on its custom-made chip, is a factory supported option for the HPE servers. HPE, along with Lightspeed Venture Partners, is one of Pensando's investors. To date, Pensando has raised just over $290 million.

Pensando is led by Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero and Soni Jiandani, who were collectively known as "MPLS" (the letters of their first names) during their time at Cisco. The four came over to Cisco in 1993 after Cisco bought Ethernet switching company Crescendo Communications. After Pensando was formed, former Cisco CEO John Chambers, which MPLS worked under, became an investor and currently is chairman of the company's board

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After two years of development, Pensando came out of stealth mode in October. Prior to Pensando, enterprises were faced with two options when it came to dealing with the explosion of data. The first was scaling up capacity in their on-premises data centers while the second was moving more of their workloads to the cloud.

Pensando came up with a third option that it says overcomes the constraints of the other two, which includes a secure, programmable, edge-accelerated platform that directly addresses the generational shift occurring as data pushes to the edge of the cloud.

Pensando has developed a data center chip optimized to handle computing tasks related to network management, security and data storage. The chip is part of accelerator cards that can be plugged into a server to offload tasks from the machine’s main processor. The result is a 20% to 40% reduction in central processing unit utilization, according to Pensando, which leads to processing cycle efficiency gains.

Pensando DSP was designed to work in existing customer environments, and can be used in combination with many common network virtualization, security and orchestration frameworks.

RELATED: Former Cisco executives ready to take on AWS with startup Pensando

In addition to HPE, Fortune 500 companies that have deployed Pensando include Goldman Sachs, which is in an investor, NetApp and Equinix. Jiandani, who is Pensando's chief business officer, said her company was currently in trials with several cloud providers, who are continuing to grow even during the coronavirus pandemic as enterprises move more of their workloads to the cloud.

"The cloud customers that we have been engaging with are moving forward with us and are going to be building infrastructure-as-a-service offerings with our technologies that will further enable them to grow the capacity, increase the security postures and handle scale within the cloud environments," Jiandani said. "So given that both the enterprise and our cloud customers are now starting to take our technologies into production, we expect similar trends occurring on both sides, the enterprise side as well as the cloud customer side."

Jiandani said customer wins would be announced over the next three to six months. Pensando also has proof-of-concept trials underway with seven global service providers.

With HPE making a big push into the edge, Jiandani said the DSP platform on the Greenlake service would find traction in the market, as well as on HPE's ProLiant servers since they are a big part of HPE's server porfolio. Pensando aslo benefits from HPE's global sales and support teams.

Jiandani said Pensando's primary competitor is Amazon’s Nitro, which is the current market leader and only available to Amazon's cloud customers.

"We find ourselves to be eight times more higher performing than them when comparing 100-Gig offerings," she said. "We have nine times more superior latency and low jitter, which are very important when you are delivering services at the edge. What takes them five devices to deliver equivalent services on, we can do it on a single device, and therefore consume one third the power.

"So when you look at all of these capabilities, we think that we can enable both the enterprises that want to build hyperscale cloud-like architecture within their own private data centers, as well as enable all the other cloud providers that don't have access to this (Nitro) technology."

While Pensando has been lining up trials and customers, the company's sales have increased by 150% over the past two quarters despite the slowdown due to COVID-19.

"We continue to prepare ourselves to go through similar growth patterns for the rest of our fiscal year," Jiandani said.

Source: Pensando

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