Raising the I/O virtualization bar with Xsigo Systems' VP780 IO Director

With Xsigo Systems' I/O virtualization technology, you can dramatically reduce the complexity involved in managing your cables and switching and reduce troubleshooting time.

If you haven't heard of I/O virtualization by now, rest assured. Once you understand how I/O virtualization with tools such as Xsigo Systems Inc.'s I/O director reduces cabling and eases virtualization infrastructure expansion, you (like me) will be sold on virtual I/O. Xsigo Systems VP780 IO Director 2.0 sets the standard for this emerging technology. To create a simple virtualization infrastructure, you basically need two servers...

and shared storage, which require few I/O cables. But as a virtualized infrastructure grows, so does the number of I/O cables.

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Raising the I/O virtualization bar with Xsigo Systems VP780 IO Director
 

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Consider the math involved: If every server has four Ethernet connections and two Fibre Channel (FC) storage area network (SAN) connections and all these connections go to their respective switches, in a virtual infrastructure of 200 servers you will spend a tremendous amount of money solely on the I/O cabling and switches required to make this infrastructure work. Additionally, there is tremendous complexity in the management of all of these I/O cables and switches. Simply finding a cable during troubleshooting would take significant time -- and in that time, critical company applications could be affected.

How can Xsigo Systems' I/O virtualization help you? 
Now, picture a "solution" that would replace just about all of the Ethernet cables, FC SAN cables, Ethernet switches, and SAN switches that connect all the servers in the infrastructure. Consider the financial savings and reduction in IT administrative headaches in managing the cabling, server connections and so on. This is what Xsigo Systems' I/O virtualization technology does your virtualized architecture.

With the Xsigo I/O virtualization technology, each server in your infrastructure has a single interface card called an HCA (host channel adapter). The HCA is connected to the Xsigo VP780 I/O Director. The VP780 gets its name because it provides a 780 GB backbone that connects all the servers connected to it. Through these connections, you can create vNICs (or virtual network interface crds) and vHBAs (virtual HBAs) on servers. You can even PXE-boot (that is, boot computers using a network interface independently of available data storage devices, such as hard disks, or installed operating systems) your servers through these vHBAs. The I/O Director that connects back to your physical LAN and to your physical SAN.

This significantly reduces the number of FC switch ports and Gigabit Ethernet switch ports required.

For those using VMware vSphere, Xsigo offers the vSphere Client Plug-in to manage all of these vNICs and vHBAs, directly from the vSphere Client. So if you need to add a new physical NIC to a server and map it to a virtual machine, you can do so with a few clicks of the mouse by adding a new vNIC to the server and mapping that vNIC to a vNIC inside the VMware VM. Envision the ability to add a new "physical" NIC or HBA to a server without ever seeing or visiting the server.

Here are some of the statistics that Xsigo touts regarding its I/O virtualization technology:

  • 50% less capital cost than traditional I/O;
  • 30% less power consumption;
  • 70% of the traditional cable plant is eliminated; nd
  • 80% reduction in the time to make moves, additions, and changes to the server SAN or LAN cable infrastructure.

For more on the best hardware for virtualization, return to our Best virtualization hardware guide overview.

For more information on the Xsigo Systems VP780 I/O Director, visit Xsigo Systems.


 

This was first published in December 2009
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