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Xsigo, VMware Partner On Network Virtualization

The partnership gives virtual machines virtual LANs and SANs, but is it a response to Cisco and Brocade?

Network virtualization startup Xsigo today announced a partnership with VMware, under which VMware's VirtualCenter 2.5 will be able to manage the Xsigo VP780 I/O Director appliance and its related software. VirtualCenter is VMware's flagship VM management software, while the Xsigo appliance aggregates SAN and LAN traffic for multiple VMs over a single InfiniBand network, so the partnership ought to mean simplified management: Customers will be able to control both VMs and their associated virtual network interface cards, host bus adapters and cables from a single console.

Of course, not many customers actually have virtual I/O at the moment, but Xsigo and others are betting that this will change. Simplified provisioning of LAN and SAN links makes it easier to use VMs, driving the virtualization adoption. Virtual storage also makes virtualization a lot more useful because it separates data from processing workloads, enabling either to be moved around without affecting the other.

Xsigo was the first company to ship a virtual I/O appliance, launching the VP780 in TK last year. But it's no longer the only one pursuing the idea. Brocade last week launched a the DCX Backbone, a Fiber Channel switch aimed at the same market; yesterday Cisco announced the Nexus 7000, an Ethernet switch that also aims to consolidate multiple networks into one. That means the partnership comes at an opportune time for Xsigo, though the timing looks like a coincidence.

It's probably not a coincidence that Xsigo is announcing the partnership on the same day as Juniper launches a line of enterprise switches. The two vendors are closely linked: Juniper founder Ashok Krishnamurthi is Xsigo's chairman, while Juniper is an investor in Xsigo. Their products are complementary, as the Xsigo appliance is not itself an Ethernet or Fiber Channel switch, simply converting virtual networks to real ones which can then be passed to other switches. In contrast, Cisco and Brocade are both integrating the network virtualization capability into a larger platform intended as a core data center switch.

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