Cray makes computers that aren't just good -- they're super. Its massively parallel and vector supercomputers provide the firepower behind research ranging from weather forecasting and scientific research to design engineering and classified government projects. The company also provides maintenance and support services, and it sells its own and third-party data storage products primarily from NetApp and DataDirect Networks. Cray's largest customer is the US government, which accounts for about two-thirds of sales. Cray also targets academic institutions and industrial companies. Around 80% of sales come from customers in the US.
All of its engineering and manufacturing facilities are located in the US (in California and Wisconsin), though the company uses subcontractors to produce the majority of its components. Of course, all of its high-performance computers are built to order.
Cray has supercomputers installed at more than 100 sites worldwide. Its supercomputers run on the company's Cray Linux Environment (CLE) operating system. Cray is one of the only companies left that exclusively makes supercomputers. Competitors such as IBM are traditional PC companies that also custom-design high-performance models for customers.
Sales and Marketing
Cray has a direct sales force that operates from sales and service facilities in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK, and the US. Only about 20% of sales come from outside the US.
With supercomputer price tags often at $10 million and up, the company's annual results can fluctuate dramatically. In 2012 overall sales jumped to $421 million, up 78% from the $236 million earned in 2011. The increase was due a project with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois to build its supercomputer, named Blue Waters, as well as upgrades to the supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
After years of losses, Cray has been profitable since 2010, and 2012’s profits skyrocketed 1,000% to $161 million after it sold its interconnect hardware development program and related intellectual property to Intel for $140 million in cash.
In 2013 Cray expanded its line of midrange supercomputers, which have price tags between $200,000 and $500,000. The lower priced systems expand the company's market reach and potential for growth. In another strategic move, in 2012 Cray formed YarcData, a division focused solely on providing systems and services to the big data market. That year it also acquired California-based Appro International for about $21.8 million in cash. Appro International provides supercomputing services.
Formerly Tera Computer, the company bought Cray Research from Silicon Graphics and changed its name to Cray in 2000. In 2004 Cray acquired Canadian supercomputer developer OctigaBay Systems, which became Cray Canada. The company's name comes from the late Seymour R. Cray, the "father of supercomputing," although Mr. Cray never worked for Cray Inc.