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French Web Host Backs ARM-Based Cloud Service Aimed at Developers

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Online Labs, a new project from web host Online.net (a division of French telecom Iliad), is readying a new cloud service aimed at developers and using power-efficient ARM-based processors rather than the standard x86 chips.

According to a VentureBeat article, Online Labs could lead the way for other cloud providers to experiment with ARM processors, with Amazon and Microsoft loomberg report being perhaps likeliest to incorporate ARM.

Online Labs is currently available on an invite-only basis, and offers a dedicated cloud server with bare metal access. And the company has been busy porting Docker images such as the Debian operating system to make it easy to run most applications.

VentureBeat reports that the company is aiming for a mid-January official release.

Under development for around two years and involving around 20 staff members, Online Labs has endeavored to build its standard “C1 servers” itself, using ARM processors from chip maker Marvell. The C1 has 2 GB of RAM, 1 Gb networking, a 20 GB solid-state drive, and a four-core, 32-bit ARMv7 chip. Eighteen C1s fit in a blade server for a high density footprint.

ARM architecture (which mostly used in mobile devices today) has the potential to reduce costs, heat and power use, and be optimized for specific applications compared to x86. Compared to the “Jack-of-All-Trades” x86 architecture, which is dominated by AMD and Intel, ARM provides some significant advantages for service providers.

Online Labs’ custom hardware is now only in a Paris data centers, and there are 4,000 customers using it. The company, however, plans to bring its ARM servers to a US data center within the first six months of 2015.

Online Labs seems will be aimed at providing a simple hosting solution for developers, much like Digital Ocean’s quickly growing service.

In terms of their underlying hardware, Digital Ocean made a splash in the marketplace with its solid-state storage hardware, whereas Online Labs is betting on ARM processors making a difference for customers. In the near future, it might not be alone.

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