Xsigo Systems Upgrades Open Fabric Architecture

The company's vendor-neutral software, hardware improves SDN management and supports five major hypervisors.

June 5, 2012

3 Min Read
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Xsigo Systems today unveiled improvements to its Open Fabric Architecture with the latest release of its Data Center Fabric product, which includes better software-defined networking management and support for five major hypervisors with 56 Gbps server-to-server connections.

San Jose, Calif.-based Xsigo's hardware and software products are currently used in 300 fabric deployments. Recent Xsigo fabric deployments include a 55,000-seat virtual desktop infrastructure fabric at Royal Bank of Scotland by Fujitsu and a large enterprise public cloud deployment by Canadian telecommunications giant Telus.

The Xsigo fabric connects servers and virtual machines to anything in the data center: networks, storage, servers or virtual machines, regardless of the OS or hypervisor, connectivity type or vendor. Multiple connections are virtualized over a single server cable, and are created and managed entirely in software.

Jon Toor, Xsigo's VP of marketing, says the company's data fabric connects all elements of the data center in a manner that gets rid of the "cable spaghetti." "Essentially, it's a software-defined network and a wire-once infrastructure," he says.

New features of the Xsigo Data Center Fabric product line include:

  • Support for all five major hypervisors: Citrix Xen, Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle VM, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and VMware vSphere

  • Support for new generations of servers optimized for virtualized data centers: HP Gen8, Dell 12th Generation and IBM M4-series servers

  • Improved connectivity, with up to 56 Gbps server-to-server communications using InfiniBand and a new 4 x 10Gb Ethernet module

  • A new software performance manager to optimize data center efficiency

Next: Xingo Fabric FeaturesXsigo's offering features several key elements.

At the core is its Fabric Director, which connects servers through one set of ports and uplinks to the LAN and SAN through another set of ports; a physical host adapter card within each server connects to the Fabric Director. This card can be either a 10 Gbit Ethernet host adapter or 40 G or 56 G InfiniBand. "We provide the fat pipe to the server, and you decide how to divvy that up," says Toor.

The Fabric Manager enables enterprises to create, monitor and manage network and storage connections across all servers. From a single console, the user can create and manage connectivity, monitor performance and apply repeatable configurations to any number of servers. The Fabric Accelerator, a software add-on, creates and manages virtual Ethernet connections from one server to another. These connections move server-to-server traffic entirely over the Xsigo fabric. Finally, the Performance Monitor, a plug-in to the Manager, provides a consolidated view of I/O usage across all storage and networking resources.

Dan Shipley, an IT architect at Supplies Network, which provides a cloud-based managed print service to customers across the United States, says Xsigo has helped the company run a completely virtualized environment, right down to the desktop level, for its 300 employees.

"We have a completely flat and collapsed infrastructure," he says. "About 98% of traffic is now east-west within the data center." Supplies Network did look at Cisco offerings (it runs Cisco gear outside the data center), but Xsigo's simplicity and ease of use, as well as support for InfiniBand, made for a more cost-effective approach. "It makes networking extremely fast and easy to use," says Shipley.

Supplies Network has been able to simplify the wiring in the data center while enjoying connection speeds of 80 Gbps. "Everything runs across Ethernet Fibre Channel," says Shipley. "The speeds we get freak people out. We have so much bandwidth. It's ridiculous."

The company is also able to make changes to the data center with no downtime.

One of Shipley's concerns was the level of support he would get from a smaller company such as Xsigo, but he says he has been pleased with the support for the product, as well as with the performance and price point. "The support is awesome."

Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, says different kinds of computing have given rise to smaller companies such as Xsigo. "Whenever computing models change, incumbents often don't follow."

He says data fabrics have become "all of the rage" data centers, and that InfiniBand is getting more attention in that environment. "There are things InfiniBand does well. It's a solid protocol to build on."

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