Xsigo Moves Virtualized I/O into Ethernet World

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-08-31 Print this article Print

The startup's I/O Director appliance now works on Ethernet connectivity common to data centers with x86-based servers and storage arrays.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Storage controller vendors and network adapter card makers may be a little more uncomfortable after upstart Xsigo Systems' news was announced Aug. 31 during VMworld 2010 here at the Moscone Center.

The 6-year-old I/O virtualization startup has taken the wraps off its most relevant innovation yet, a new version of its I/O Director appliance that works on Ethernet connectivity common to data centers with x86-based servers and storage arrays.

As a result, virtually data center in the world now can speed up its overall I/O by using one of Xsigo's appliances. And who doesn't want to speed up the entire system by simply plugging in another box?

I/O Director VP780 and VP560 models require no network cards or storage controllers. The appliance does all the traffic directing automatically while opening up the pipes for faster data workload movement.

Xsigo has been marketing I/O Director since 2007, but its appeal has been limited since it could only be used with high-end InfiniBand adapters on servers. InfiniBand, an expensive high-end connectivity, only covers a small portion of the overall data center market.

In the past, IT managers have been able to get the advantages of virtualized I/O by plugging a server into Xsigo unit with one InfiniBand connector [whether or not Infiniband is being used elsewhere in the system] and distributing the firehose of data flow into several different virtual Ethernet or Fibre Channel links. This saves a lot of money in not having to buy individual network cards [about $1,500 per unit] for each server.

"This announcement marks a quantum leap forward in data center efficiency," Xsigo CEO Lloyd Carney told a packed room at the St. Regis Hotel for the Aug. 31 press conference.

"Now the vast population of x86 servers deployed worldwide can be aggregated into private clouds of efficient, interchangeable resources, simply using the connectivity they already have."

Carney and Xsigo made no bones about who their competition is in the IT marketplace: Cisco Systems.

"Cisco is a completely closed-loop system; Xsigo is completely open," Carney said. "We work with any kind of server, storage, networking and software management, it doesn't matter. We speed up the flow for everybody."

Vendors including Cisco are selling FCoE [Fibre Channel over Ethernet] as a single network infrastructure that spans storage and Ethernet local area neworks.

Fibre Channel cable connectivity has long been the conventional enterprise storage data pipe method, and combining it with the attributes of Ethernet has been a blessing for many a network administrator.

Xsigo I/O Director is priced at about $35,000. It will become available in September 2010.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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