Xsigo Virtualizes Connectivity With New Server Fabric

Server Fabric enables one-click network connections from virtual machines to any data center resource-including servers, networks, storage and other virtual machines.

Xsigo Systems, which makes an appliance that virtualizes and accelerates throughput in enterprise networks, Aug. 15 unveiled its own server fabric software that the company claims is the industry's "first fully virtualized infrastructure" for cloud-optimized data centers.

Xsigo's succinctly named Server Fabric enables one-click network connections from virtual machines to any data center resource-including servers, networks, storage and other virtual machines-to simplify and accelerate management of virtualized data centers, Xsigo marketing director Jon Toor told eWEEK.

A server fabric is the set of consistent services offered by one or more switches working together in a storage network. Any node connected to any switch in a fabric sees exactly the same information about the network.

Xsigo's server fabric is designed to ease hardware constraints on the agility and scalability of the cloud. It can scale to up to 1,000 physical hosts, Toor said.

"This [data center networking] has always been very complex; because you have to configure your paths through multiple switches to get from server A to server Z, you have to use things like VLANs [virtual local networks] to provide isolation on those paths ... in a network," Toor told eWEEK.

"VLANs were designed to solve this on a large network basis, not on a server-to-server basis-especially when it comes to the mobile environments we have now. We're seeing customers complain that they're getting hamstrung by the current way of doing things."

Xsigo Server Fabric virtualizes hardware-independent connectivity between resources so that administrators can configure switches, switch ports, VLANs and routing in short order-enabling management tasks to be completed by a single person in minutes using the software, rather than by multiple teams over the course of hours or days.

The Xsigo Server Fabric lets customers flexibly deploy Ethernet and Fibre Channel connections at speeds up to 40Gbps. Environments can be scaled to a ceiling of 1,000 physical hosts with tens of thousands of virtual connections linking virtual machines to each other or to network and storage resources, Toor said.

The Server Fabric is fully interoperable with existing core networking products from Cisco, Brocade, Juniper and others, Toor said.

"Of the fundamental data center building blocks-servers, storage, and the connectivity that ties it all together-only network connectivity remains as it was 20 years ago, locked to an inflexible and inefficient switch and port-based management model," Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala said. "The cloud-computing era places demands on data center infrastructure that cannot be met through traditional networking technologies. Xsigo's fabric technology changes all this by addressing the desperate market need to fully integrate resources using a server fabric, while also providing unprecedented levels of simplification through software."

The Xsigo Server Fabric consists of multiple Xsigo components available now: Xsigo I/O Director, Xsigo XMS Management Software and Xsigo Fabric Extenders, together with a software upgrade package called the SFS 1.0 Server Fabric Suite. The upgrade package includes host drivers, a management software plug-in, and operating software designed specifically to deliver the enhanced features and scalability of the Xsigo Server Fabric.

The SFS 1.0 Server Fabric Suite will be available in December 2011. It is licensed on a per-physical-host basis at a list price of $1,000 per host.

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...