Data Centers Get Virtualized Management 10GbE Fabric Option

By Chris Talbot  |  Print this article Print

Going up against the likes of Cisco and other players, Voltaire has brought Infiniband-like features and capabilities to 10Gb Ethernet fabrics. Voltaire has released two software products that improve performance and management capabilities for data centers.

Voltaire, a provider of scale-out data center fabrics, has announced two software products that the company says will offer better performance and management capabilities to scale out 10-gigabit Ethernet fabrics.

The products take the capabilities Voltaire has made available in its Infiniband products and makes those features available on Ethernet infrastructures. Available now is Voltaire Messaging Accelerator (VMA), and launching at the end of the second quarter 2010 is Unified Fabric Manager 3.0.

"We've designed these software packages in a way that whatever runs over Infiniband [will run] over Ethernet in the same way, exactly along the lines of our strategy to bring the innovation and expertise we have in Infiniband to the Ethernet world," Asaf Somekh, vice president of marketing at Voltaire, told Channel Insider. "The announcement ... is part of this strategy and this rollout that two of our main software packages—UFM and VMA—are becoming available for Ethernet, too, after their success in Infiniband."

The UFM software is an Ethernet scale-out fabric management application designed to support end-to-end virtual machine connectivity. With an application-centric, real-time approach, UFM offers data center operators the ability to efficiently monitor and manage the entire fabric while also increasing performance and maximizing the usage of fabric resources. According to Voltaire, UFM can identify congestion and hot spots on the network. It can then take action to correct any problems before performance is negatively affected.

"This is basically a management platform that allows you to treat your fabric as a single logical entity," Somekh said.

With data centers becoming even larger and housing thousands of switches, the traditional approach to management isn't cutting it any more, he said.

"They're just not proven to view hundreds or thousands of switches and manage them with these platforms," Somekh said. UFM can manage both Voltaire and third-party switches, and it will manage multivendor environments in a way that is transparent to the end user, he added.

Fabric resources can be allocated to particular applications, and appropriate service levels can be applied, he said. UFM is capable of automatically configuring servers to use the resources in a way that makes the most sense for the environment.

According to Somekh, the most important thing about UFM is it enables IT administrators to reprovision and configure resources automatically instead of manually. It not only saves time, it ensures service levels are met.

"It's basically the first tool in the industry that provides multivendor environments with the virtualization awareness and the full automation of the configuration of all of these virtual machines to work with the right resources from the fabric," he said. Basically, it works like a fabric operating system.

The other software product in the announcement, VMA, provides seamless Ethernet IP multicast connectivity with transport latency as low as 3.5 microseconds, as well as application latency as low as 7 microseconds. According to Somekh, that's well below the market average.

"It's not enough just to throw hardware on the end users and have them deal with their data center or whatever application they're building. More so, these networking companies, when they say 'software,' they mean the device management software. When we talk about solutions with our end users and channels, we basically talk about an end-to-end solution that is comprised of hardware, where we have a family of switches, and then comes the software. One kind of software is the application acceleration software. This is software you install on the server side to maximize the use of the network you've just purchased [and] improve the performance of the application to reduce the latency of the overall networking solution. The way to do it is to use these software packages, and the one we're announcing is Voltaire VMA."

The focus of VMA is on multitasked application types that are widely used in verticals like financial services (which is Voltaire's most important vertical market).

"Our goal was to make sure these applications leverage the innovation in our hardware and software without the need to change these applications," Somekh said.

One of the key uses of VMA is to boost the performance of high-frequency trading applications like those used by stock exchanges. However, other key verticals Voltaire and its channel partners are targeting with VMA include manufacturing, aerospace, government, research, pharmaceutical, and oil and gas. He said VMA is good for customers that are building large, scalable data centers.

Both VMA and UFM are priced based on the number of cores. Pricing packages are available from the company, but Somekh said the average price per server is "several hundred dollars."

"Over the years, we have served multiple vertical markets through our channels. Voltaire is basically designed to work through channels where the leading server companies are our top channels. HP and IBM are our top channels to the market, and the rest of the server companies are also selling our products. We also work with a network of resellers and VARs throughout the world through our program called adVantage," Somekh said. Approximately 25 percent of Voltaire's business goes through the VAR channel.

 VMA is available now, and UFM will be available by the end of the second quarter.