Xsigo I/O Virtualization On TechWebTV - InformationWeek

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1/28/2008
03:44 PM
Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
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Xsigo I/O Virtualization On TechWebTV

This is taking the virtualization thing just a bit too far! First we've got servers being virtualized, then storage, and now Xsigo, among others, (I'll come back to this) is virtualizating I/O. But that's not all: CEO Ashok Krishnamurthi was stuck in some traffic bottleneck (oh, the irony) so he left his StartupCity TV filming in the hands of marketing manager Kelly Ciccone and damn if she didn't do a great job. Virtualized interview, indeed.

This is taking the virtualization thing just a bit too far! First we've got servers being virtualized, then storage, and now Xsigo, among others, (I'll come back to this) is virtualizating I/O. But that's not all: CEO Ashok Krishnamurthi was stuck in some traffic bottleneck (oh, the irony) so he left his StartupCity TV filming in the hands of marketing manager Kelly Ciccone and damn if she didn't do a great job. Virtualized interview, indeed.

Xsigo has become the new darling of a virtualization trend that is perhaps the most compelling yet. If you're going to virtualize servers and storage, at some point all of the device mapping to the NIC will create a performance bottleneck. An appliance like Xsigo's I/O Director manages all those virtual NIC device mappings, not only accelerating systems but also simplifying the management. Andy Dornan gave an excellent perspective on this when Xsigo first announced this product; and Joe Hernick followed that up with an in-depth analysis of the trend.

Like any hot market, there are sure to be competitors, and Xsigo has a few, including 3Leaf on the start-up side; but in the past several days Brocade and now Cisco have made their presence felt. But let's temper the enthusiasm for new products with a little dose of reality: At InformationWeek's Future of Virtualization Forum held in Los Angeles back in December, XenSource CTO Simon Crosby pointed out that only 9% of servers purchased get virtualized today. The cynic may argue that points to an overhyped market, but it's probably a better indicator of possibility. Cisco, after all, wouldn't pour $250 million into something it thought was a passing fad. (I'm not sure how that works as an endorsement, but it'll do for now.) So maybe Xsigo and 3Leaf are our next Extremes and Foundrys; Brocade our next Juniper. Interestingly, Xsigo's executive ranks have Juniper lineage. Is this something Juniper passed on? Things already are heating up in the Data Center, but a virtual fisticuffs may be just what this market needs. Xsigo sees any attempts from the likes of IBM and HP as proprietary and hopes those companies will be partners rather than competitors.

Xsigo takes a decided InfiniBand route, which sets it up to capture the market for low-latency transactions inherent in moving lots of small data requests without involving server CPU cycles. At 24 ports and 10 Gbps per port, along with the ability to fan out to 120 server connections, it's not a bad start. 20 Gbps connections are coming in six months; 40 Gbps in a year.

Sounds familiar. Let the games begin.

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