Verari Systems Inc. and Xsigo Systems Inc. have forged a partnership to help make it easier to virtualize I/O between blade servers and storage.
Verari said today it will integrate Xsigo's VP780 I/O Director with the Verari BladeRack 2 X-Series network storage blades. The idea is to reduce the amount of storage and network connections while making it easier to manage the rapidly increasing number of virtual servers connected to networks and storage. Verari will sell and support the integrated product.
Verari's high-density BladeRack 2 X-Series network storage blades hold up to 32 storage and 64 network connections per blade. Xsigo's VP780 I/O Director connects servers to SANs and LANs with one card and one cable. It includes 24 server ports and 15 slots for I/O modules. The I/O Director connects to servers through InfiniBand and to storage through I/O modules that support 4 Gbps Fibre Channel, or 1 Gbps or 10 Gbps Ethernet.
Executives from Verari and Xsigo said the combination provides I/O virtualization for blade servers that removes the need for multiple cables, host bus adapters (HBA) and cards. "We're removing stovepipes," said Anthony Skjellum, Verari chief architect. "For instance, we're no longer forcing you to have two Fibre Channel cards for every blade. With this integration, two fabrics come out of each blade, and that's it, or one fabric in a configuration that doesn't need redundancy. We want to deploy 100 racks at a time to larger installations, and this makes it easier to roll in."
Skjellum said that nonvirtualized I/O blades may require two or more Fibre Channel cards, 10 Gigabit Ethernet or 1 Gigabit Ethernet cards. He said the integrated storage blade reduces power by saving 20Wto 30W per blade.
With storage virtualization and server virtualization frequently coming together in the data center, Verari is looking to get a jump on larger blade server rivals IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Sun. Analyst Greg Quick of The 451 Group said that it's just a matter of time until other blade server vendors turn to similar deals with Xsigo competitors in the I/O virtualization market such as 3Leaf Systems and NextIO.
Quick said, "You'll see a lot more products that look like [the Verari-Xsigo product]. In the data center, I think they'll go with this style, put the switch on top and feed into it and from there go out to storage."
The biggest benefits, Quick said, will be easier management and better CPU utilization. "When you eliminate a lot of cables and cards, you make things simpler," he said. "You're also getting much higher utilization by avoiding bottlenecks that occur when all the data runs into one pipe. You don't have to buy as [many] CPUs to get the same amount of work done."
However, it's hard to say what kind of cost benefit customers might get, because although the integrated systems are already available through Verari, the company refuses to disclose pricing information because the integrated product is custom-configured for each customer.
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