Edge roundup: Two mystery boxes, a sales spike and coveted certification

Edge roundup: Two mystery boxes, a sales spike and coveted certification

Edge hardware news that highlights growing sales and interest in the sector in January included the commercial debut of an IBM server that can already be found in an unusual U.S. Defense Department supercomputer, positive financial news for Vertiv and Scale Computing and an important certification for yet another edge vendor.

IBM is set to release for commercial sale an AI inference server on Feb. 7. At the time of IBM’s announcement, Department of Defense officials had already installed the machine in a shipping container complete with fire-suppression systems, an uninterruptible power supply, and chilled-water cooling, as reported by EE Times.

The system boasts 1.3 petabytes of solid-state storage and is capable of six petaFLOPS. The system’s maximum peak memory bandwidth is 170 gigabytes per second per socket.

IBM placed an unknown number of its new AI inference-focused IC922 servers in the mobile data monster. The servers have two Power9 processors with 12, 16 or 20 cores. The Defense Department bought six Nvidia T4 graphical processing units to accelerate inference.

It is not known how much the setup cost to build or operate.

The steel bivouac is designed to be deployed at the tactical edge, according to EE Times. There it will process critical data in real time and without having to send sensitive information over vulnerable long-distance connections to cloud services.

Vertiv’s reverse listing, Scale Computing scales revenues up

A different kind of packaging was employed in December on Vertiv Holdings LLC, a digital-infrastructure and continuity vendor.

In this case, Vertiv’s private-equity parent, Platinum Equity, agreed to merge the firm with a so-called blank-check firm called GS Acquisition Holdings Corp/ The reverse merger is a bit of a financial square dance that allows a company — in this case Vertiv – to get the funding that comes with an initial public offering without having to register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

GS Acquisition is reported to be the first Goldman Sachs blank-check company (hence the “GS” in the name). Also known as a special-purpose acquisition company, GS Acquisition was created in 2018 in an initial public offering that raised $690 million, money it would eventually use to absorb Vertiv.

As an aside, buyers of GS Acquisition shares may never have been told which company would be purchased or even which industries were being examined for a deal by David Cote, chief executive of the acquiring firm. No such notice is required.

When it closes — anticipated this quarter — the deal is expected to result in a Vertiv with a pro forma enterprise value of $5.3 billion, or 8.9 times the firm’s estimated 2020 pro forma adjusted EBITDA of $595 million. That’s a significant premium for a hardware company that reflects a belief that the company’s growth trajectory has plenty of upside – upside that’s in part being driven by the expanding business for edge and micro data centers.

Platinum will own 38 percent the company (to be renamed Vertiv Holdings Co.), Cote and “affiliates of The Goldman Sachs Group Inc.” will hold 5 percent. About $700 million held in GS Acquisition’s trust account will be combined with further investment commitments via a $1.239 billion private placement.

Switching to hyperconverged edge hardware, Scale Computing reported Jan. 29 a 90 percent jump in software sales for 2019, compared to the year before. Scale Computing executives attributed the spike to successful partnerships with original-equipment makers and edge-based deal activity.

The company focuses on hyperconverged edge-computing infrastructure and virtualization software.

In December, Scale Computing debuted an HC3 Edge appliance — the all-flash HE150. It promises high availability and disaster recovery to remote locations. Scale Computing executives say the appliance can be remotely or locally managed and boasts almost-instantaneous self-healing.

And last, Pivot3 executives last week said they achieved Common Criteria Assurance Continuity certification for their Acuity 10.6 hyperconverged-infrastructure software.

Executives claim that they are the only hyperconverged-infrastructure vendor with this certification of a native-NVMe application with policy-based management to automate data protection, security, and workload performance.

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