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Xsigo Boosts ViaWest Cloud Portfolio, Performance

Denver-based ViaWest, one of the largest privately held data center and managed services providers in North America, is utilizing Xsigo Systems' virtual I/O solution to increase its cloud service performance by two to four times, as well as to facilitate the creation of a new class of cloud offerings. The company, which owns and operates 22 enterprise-class data center facilities in Colorado, Texas, Oregon, Utah and Nevada, has deployed the Xsigo offering in its KINECTed Cloud services data centers, enabling customers to combine ViaWest’s services, including co-location, hosting, managed services and cloud services, within a single, consolidated offering.

ViaWest is primarily regionally based and focused on small and midsize customers, says Jason Carolan, VP of product development, who came to the service provider by way of Sun Microsystems and, most recently, VMware. Approximately two-thirds of the business is co-location services, with the the remainder a variety of managed services, including the fast-growing database administration offering. "We've been working on the cloud for the last six months and just launched officially a couple of weeks ago." The plan is to intertwine managed and cloud services over time, he says.

The majority of ViaWest's customers--80%--are virtualized. Most are on top of VMware, although the company is seeing increasing Microsoft HyperV growth, as well as interest in Citrix Xen, which is pushing the service provider to a more agnostic view of hypervisors. "As customers get more familiar with virtualization, I think increasingly having that choice, that price point, will be significant," says Carolan.

According to Xsigo, the high-speed switching market will be worth $52 billion by 2015, with $11 billion of that being data center switching that it can address. Analyst Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research says the nice thing about Xsigo is it "allows compute guys to do what they want and network guys to do want they want."

Xsigo's I/O Director is a 2U or 4U rack-mount device that virtualizes I/O by bringing converged traffic off the physical server and routing it through virtual network interface cards or virtual host bus adapters. But because the I/O has been virtualized inside I/O Director, levels of I/O bandwidth can be assigned and reassigned dynamically through its XMS management interface. The company says it can help customers consolidate their infrastructure, reduce cabling requirements by 70%, cut power consumption by 30% and complete routine management tasks in seconds rather than hours or days.

There were a number of reasons for going with Xsigo, says Carolan, including the ability to address customers using virtual SANs with Fibre Channel, and reducing latency and improving performance. "Xsigo gives us a way to connect into that [SAN Fibre Channel] legacy, provides a great bridge... [and] lets us have a managed platform to slice and dice with greater granularity than other products out there."

The ViaWest IT environment is mainly HP-based, with Cisco for core networking, Vmware and Microsoft, and CA for platform automation. "We moved to cloud/SaaS offerings a couple of years ago ... [and are] looking at VDI as a possible solution to the separation of church and state, moving to where the device is less important than the content/data."

Carolan says they first started evaluating vendors last November/December, and started testing Xsigo in the lab in January. ViaWest is currently using Xsigo to power a public beta, with production use scheduled for 2012. The company is starting in Colorado and will expand into Utah next year.

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