Linux server start-up nabs Credit Suisse

Egenera, betting that financial services companies and other customers will like its expensive Linux servers, has found its first customer in Credit Suisse First Boston.

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Stephen Shankland
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NEW YORK--Egenera, a start-up betting that financial services companies and other customers will like its expensive Linux servers, has found its first customer in Credit Suisse First Boston.

Egenera Chief Executive Vern Brownell made the announcement Wednesday at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here.

Egenera sells refrigerator-sized BladeFrame machines that contain 24 thin "blades," each with two or four Intel processors. Jobs can be switched from one blade to another, enabling the server to respond to different workloads or to withstand the failure of individual blades.

The servers went on sale late last year, and Egenera got "significant revenue in the fourth quarter of 2001," Brownell said. He said prices range from about $200,000 to $1 million.

Egenera is taking on a difficult market. Even large, well-established server makers have been punished by the shrinking server market, and Linux-specific server sellers such as Atipa and VA Software have been forced to leave the market or change strategies dramatically. But some analysts believe Egenera has a small enough niche that it won't face much competition from the large players.

Credit Suisse First Boston was a beta tester of the BladeFrame, as was Goldman Sachs, the financial services company where Brownell was chief technology officer before leaving to start Egenera. CSFB will use the system to route orders globally, a job that requires processing about 20 million transactions a day. Other jobs will be moved to the Egenera system later this year.

Egenera has 12 systems in beta tests at other companies, Brownell added.

The servers use Turbolinux's PowerCockpit management software and can take advantage of data-protection features from high-end storage giant EMC.

Egenera also is counting on the arrival of Intel's coming high-end Xeon chip that can be grouped in fours. This chip, a server-oriented version of the Pentium 4 and code-named Foster MP, is expected in the first quarter of 2002. Intel is also working on a faster multiprocessor Xeon, code-named Gallatin, and due by the end of 2002.