Xsigo Moves Virtualized I/O into Ethernet World

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 J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...