Tech Industry

Linux server maker nabs J.P. Morgan deal

Egenera plans to announce Wednesday that J.P. Morgan Chase has bought several of its servers for supercomputing calculations.

Egenera, a pioneer of high-end Linux servers costing hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece, plans to announce Wednesday that J.P. Morgan Chase has bought several of its servers for supercomputing calculations.

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J.P. Morgan Chase will use the systems for its "Compute Backbone," Egenera expects to announce at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in New York, which begins Wednesday. Egenera declined to reveal precisely how much the deal was worth, saying only it was a multimillion-dollar pact involving multiple BladeFrame systems, each a refrigerator-size cabinet with as many as 24 individual four-processor servers.

Financial services customers long have favored servers running Unix from companies such as Sun Microsystems, but many are moving to machines running the Linux operating system on Intel processors as a cost-saving measure. Jeffrey Birnbaum, global head of enterprise computing at Morgan Stanley, will discuss his company's embrace of the Red Hat version of Linux in a keynote speech at the Linux show.

Marlboro, Mass.-based Egenera focuses chiefly on the financial services industry, where it has its roots. Company co-founder Vern Brownell was chief technology officer of Goldman Sachs, which has been an Egenera tester. Credit Suisse First Boston was Egenera's first announced customer a year ago.

Linux, developed collaboratively by numerous companies and individuals, is in many respects identical to Unix, making it easier to move higher-level software between the two operating systems.

Major server sellers have jumped aboard the Linux bandwagon, and their offerings are beginning to catch up to Egenera's four-processor "blade" servers, modules that plug into a large enclosure. Hewlett-Packard announced its four-processor blade systems will begin shipping March 11, and IBM and Dell Computer have their own four-processor blade systems in development.

Egenera, though, has a sophisticated design that lets the identity of one blade server be quickly switched to another, making it easier for administrators to respond to changing computing demands or system failures.

J.P. Morgan Chase bought the Egenera systems as the first hardware in its Compute Backbone, a "grid" of computing systems that can be pooled together to tackle heavy calculations, the company said.