New HP Ethernet Module Aimed at Eliminating Network Switches

The Virtual Connect Flex-10 Ethernet module can allocate the bandwidth of a 10GB Ethernet network port across four network interface card (NIC) connections. HP also claims that users deploying virtual machines and utilizing Flex-10 can cut their network equipment costs in half.

You've probably heard of virtual machine sprawl, the phenomenon data center managers experience when the number of VMs simply gets out of control in an enterprise system.
Well, network switches may also be starting to get out of control, too.
Hewlett-Packard Nov. 17 introduced its Virtual Connect Flex-10 Ethernet module, a storage and server networking hardware/software product that is designed to cut down on the number of network switches needed in an enterprise system.
HP claims that Virtual Connect Flex-10 is the industry's first interconnect that can allocate the bandwidth of a 10 Gigabit Ethernet network port across four NIC (network interface card) connections. It also enables users to assign different bandwidth requirements to each connection.

Read eWEEK Labs' review of HP's ProLiant DL185 G5 storage server here.Currently, IT managers must purchase costly network switches in either 1GB or 10GB Ethernet increments to meet the increased bandwidth required for additional virtual server workloads.

By increasing bandwidth flexibility using the Flex-10 module, the need for additional dedicated switches is eliminated. HP claims users deploying virtual machines and utilizing Virtual Connect Flex-10 can cut their network equipment costs in half, over time, as a result.
"This [Flex-10 launch] is a watershed kind of event in server networking," Mark Potter, vice president and general manager of HP BladeSystems, told me.
"Customers are having to put six to eight network connectors [NICs] in every server in a virtualized environment to connect all the different services they need," Potter said. "They have a choice of a 1GB or a 10GB-there's nothing in between. Typically, they need at least 1GB per connection, but 10GB is too much [to pay] for any one of them."

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...