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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.