IBM Expands Partnerships with Voltaire, QLogic

IBM is partnering with Voltaire to bring the networking vendor's new Vantage 8500 10GbE switches to its own System Cluster 1350, a cluster offering that is built on BladeCenter or iDataPlex systems. In addition, IBM is integrating QLogic's 8100 FCoE adapters into its Power Systems as a way of offering enterprises a converged networking fabric that can reduce costs and complexity in the data center.

IBM is continuing to bulk up its networking capabilities through partnerships, most recently by expanding its work with Voltaire and QLogic.

Officials with Voltaire and QLogic announced Oct. 20 that IBM is working with each company to offer new Ethernet capabilities in their servers.

IBM is selling Voltaire's new 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches with its integrated System Cluster 1350 portfolio. The cluster offering is built on IBM's BladeCenter blade servers and iDataPlex server array, and is aimed at everything from departmental-level compute clusters to supercomputers.

Voltaire launched its Vantage 8500 10GbE switch Oct. 20. The new switch is aimed at scale-out and virtualized infrastructures and offers less than a microsecond of latency and an energy-efficient 10 watts of power consumption per port.

IT administrators can cluster up to 12 Vantage 8500 switches together.

Including Voltaire's 10GbE switches is part of a larger strategy from IBM to give customers a choice of networking options, according to Alex Yost, vice president of IBM's Systems and Technology Group.

That strategy was illustrated in July, when IBM announced expanded partnerships with a variety of networking vendors, including Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks and Brocade Communications Systems.

The expanded partnerships were seen as a key step in IBM's move to offer a more unified data center solution, a trend that also is being driven by such competitors as Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Dell. Unlike Cisco and HP, IBM is looking to alliances as a way of bringing in the networking aspect, rather than developing products itself.

IBM has been working with Voltaire since 2004, and in June announced it was adding Voltaire's 40 Gb/s InfiniBand switch module to BladeCenter for HPC (high-performance computing) and enterprises offerings. In that vein, IBM also said Oct. 20 that it is offering Voltaire's Grid Director 4700 40 Gb/s QDR InfiniBand director switch.

With QLogic, IBM is integrating the vendor's 8100 Series converged network adapters for FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) connectivity into its Power Systems line of servers.

"The addition of converged networking capabilities with QLogic 8100 enables customers to network their Fibre Channel storage over their pervasive Ethernet infrastructure at 10Gb speeds," Kelvin Hawkins, vice president of Power Systems development at IBM, said in a statement.

FCoE also was part of the expanded partnerships with Brocade and Cisco in July. Enterprises are looking for a single network fabric that can tie together their server and storage environments as a way to drive down costs and complexity.

QLogic's 8100 Series handles both server and storage traffic, moving it at 10GbE line speeds, while consuming a third of the power of other converged network adapters.