What is CriKit?

CriKit stands for Cloud Resource and Infrastructure Kit. CriKit is a compact, energy efficient, low-cost, four-node cloud computing environment that literally fits on a desktop. It has all the hardware you need to set up multi-node private cloud computing environments.


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Who is CriKit intended for?

CriKit is intended to be used by a wide variety of roles, including software development, software test and QA, plus training, demonstration and educational users. Because it employs generic Intel x86 computing platforms that run all major hypervisors and operating systems, it can be used across industries on a wide variety of applications, including general purpose, financial and scientific uses.

What is in a CriKit?

CriKit has been designed to meet the requirements of an active system user. It contains the following items:

Computing Nodes
CriKit contains 4 energy-efficient compute nodes that include an Intel Server Motherboard, an Intel Xeon Server CPU, 16 GB of RAM, Dual 1 Gb Ethernet Network Interface Controllers ( NIC’s) and a 160 GB Solid State Drive ( SSD). The CPU and SSD can be upgraded on request and additional compute nodes can be added as needed.

External Storage
CriKit comes standard with a 2 TB NAS system that provides NFS and CIFS capabilities to meet the persistent storage needs of virtualization and cloud computing environments. Storage is upgradeable to 12 TB in a single enclosure and multiple enclosures are possible.

1 Gb Ethernet Switch
CriKit comes standard with an 8 Port, unmanaged, 1 Gb Ethernet switch. Managed switches, and switches with more ports for larger CriKit implementations are available.

Keyboard, Video and Mouse Switch
A high-quality, 8 node DVI/USB switch is included with CriKit. This switch can be daisy-chained with additional switches to accommodate 511 CriKit compute nodes and one Management Workstation.

Management/Development Workstation
CriKit comes with a high-powered workstation to manage the cloud environment and provide high developer productivity. Included in the workstation are:

1. Intel Core i7 processor
2. 16 GB of RAM
3. 1 TB Hard Disk Drive
4. 1 Gb Ethernet NIC
5. 19” LED Monitor
6. Keytronic Keyboard
7. Microsoft optical mouse



Why buy a CriKit?

People in the cloud or cluster computing worlds that have ever had to scavenge for machines or routinely bug IT for compute, storage and network resources for their projects will immediately see the value and benefit of CriKit. They may never again have to ask, “Are you using that machine?” You know who you are. CriKit and its varied configurations are great for Private Cloud and Big Data projects where you need to develop,test, evaluate,demo, or just plain tinker, with multi-node or cluster solutions. Everybody that does those things looks at a CriKit and instinctively knows it has value. It’s a zippy, quiet, energy-sipping, multi-terabyte, mini-data-center-on-a-desk,  what’s not to like? But, that is just the beginning.

CriKit Will Change The Game
The compact size of CriKit brings an entirely new dimension to cloud and cluster computing. If you are involved in training or trade show demonstrations, you now have a portable solution. Think how much more effective you can be with a true multi-node system that fits in a box or suitcase? If you currently haul a heavy blade system or racks to trade shows and events, think about how much money you can save in shipping costs and labor. Anyone who deals with event invoices knows exactly what that means. Further, if you currently only bring literature to shows because there is no cost-effective way to demonstrate your multi-node solution, well, now you can strut your stuff in public. And, we’ve all seen the multi-node virtualized demo running on a laptop and heard the excuses of why it is running so slow, or not at all. Those days are over.

Another game changing aspect of CriKit is how it will be used by software vendors to win business. For the first time, a complete multi-node solution is available at a much lower cost than other alternatives. This allows software vendors to purchase a CriKit and use it to win business. For example, if a vendor is competing for an enterprise software deal that could result in a large sale and many years of support revenue, the cost of a CriKit is trivial and they can buy the prospect a CriKit and let them use the software at their leisure, while dramatically lowering the burden on the IT department. A desk, some power and maybe a network tap are all that is needed to run very complex solutions for customers and prospects. This is actually huge for many software vendors and sales productivity could skyrocket for complex, multi-node solutions.


Education and Training The world of education and training will be changed dramatically by CriKit. Because CriKit can run enough light servers for a 30 person class, it is ideal for education and training. For a school classroom, with CriKit, the students come in, log in, start up their virtual machine, use it for the duration of the class, save their config and then shut it down before they leave the room. The next class comes in, logs in, starts up their virtual machines and goes through the same process.  In the future, teachers will routinely tell their students, “ Ok kids, don’t forget to save and shut down your virtual machines before you leave.”
For business training, companies will be able to have complete environments in the classroom to assist with the training of complex, multi-machine systems. All trainers understand the superior value of providing hands-on training for complex systems. Hands-on training has downstream benefits such as lower support costs and CriKit can play an extended role in on-site support and problem resolution as well.


Being Zippy Makes a Big Difference We designed CriKit to use Solid State Hard Drives, or SSD’s. The enhanced productivity that SSD’s bring to the CriKit environment can’t be overlooked. Every routine task happens faster with SSD’s. Start ups, shut downs, log ins, application execution, compiles and user interface actions that read or write from disk are all approximately 3 times faster with SSD’s compared to spinning disk. If you are a developer or tester, you want things to happen now. Slow machines suck. If you are a product trainer or demonstrator you want your product to perform quickly to give the best impression of your solution. Every product demonstrator or trainer knows the value of an application that starts up quickly  vs. one that chugs into existence, or a user interface that snaps into place vs. one that takes its sweet  time loading in front of a big prospect. Being zippy makes a difference, and CriKit is zippy in most everything you request of it. Further, we compared Spinning, Hybrid and Solid State Drives and determined that SSD’s are worth every extra penny because of the increase in productivity they deliver. SSD’s let you do more things in a given period of time and that means increased productivity, period. The main question to ask when considering the value of SSD’s is, “What’s your time worth? “


Green is Required Attire There are many very cool and valuable aspects to CriKit, but being super energy-efficient may be the coup de grace. Each CriKit compute node draws about 1 KiloWatt Hour  of electricity every 40 hours. The rate for Kwh’s varies by utility, from cheap to expensive. Washington State is around 7.5 cents per Kwh, to Connecticut being around 18 cents per Kwh. So, that means a CriKit node in Washington costs 7.5 cents to operate for a 40 hour work week, and in Connecticut it costs 18 cents. But wait, there’s more. If each CriKit node can run 4 virtualized servers,  that means each server costs just 1.85 cents in electricity in Washington to run for that week. Breaking it down further, each virtualized server costs just .04625 cents per hour in electricity. However, If you run 8 servers per compute node, the cost is a miniscule .023 cents an hour, or .185 cents a day ( less than 1/5 of 1 penny). If you are running any servers that are 5 years old and use a single thread per processor, you owe it to the people of this planet to make some serious changes and reduce your energy consumption, like buy a CriKit to consolidate some of the energy hogs.

There is another aspect with CriKit that is not addressed very much in the server world, and that is reuse and disposal of the units. “How long will the system have a useful life?”,  and “What are the disposal costs?” are key questions that need answers. With CriKit, these are two areas in which we absolutely demolish any competition. Here’s why :


CriKit is modular for a reason. Each CriKit compute node can be used – unmodified – as a desktop computer. The units are server boards and processors, but they run Windows 7 very fast and will be Windows 8 capable. This means each node can have an extended life in the organization far beyond the original intended use, if so desired. Further, because there is only one moving part- and that is an easily replaceable CPU fan- the MTBF is mainly dependent on a replaceable fan which is designed for long life.

Disposal advantages. All computers come to an end of life and need to be disposed of. Disposal is costly. In 10 years, when the CriKit nodes you buy today may reach the end of their life cycle, disposal will be even more expensive. So, the question becomes, “In 10 years, would you rather dispose of a 3 pound compute node, or a 15 pound compute node?”.  The answer is obvious. CriKit will save disposal costs and reduce required landfill space in the future. The costs of every aspect of the disposal chain will be reduced in the future by using CriKit today. We designed CriKit with green aspects as key design points. It had to have superior energy efficiency and be reusable to extend value with low disposal costs compared to any other option. From a green perspective, CriKit wins and there isn’t anybody else even close. Trail blazing is hard work, but in this case, CriKit sets a bar that others will strive to beat and that will eventually benefit us all.


Conclusion As you have seen, there is more to a CriKit than being a compact Desktop Private Cloud computing environment. We have worked hard to deliver a unique solution that addresses issues beyond the computing requirements. We believe that the future will be full of devices like CriKit that provide extreme value to the end user and society and we are very proud to be the first supplier of this new class of modular, compact, powerful and energy-efficient computing solutions.