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Xsigo Compute Fabric Threatens Switch Vendors

Xsigo Systems says that the launch of the industry's first fully virtualized infrastructure for cloud-optimized data centers enables one-click network connections from virtual machines to any data center resource--including servers, networks, storage and other virtual machines. With the Xsigo Server Fabric, new services can be brought to market 10 times faster, delivered at guaranteed levels of performance and seamlessly scaled to a thousand physical hosts--all at a 50% lower cost of operation.

That's great news for customers, says the company, but bad news for legacy switch vendors like Cisco, Brocade and Juniper that are "wrapping legacy technologies designed for yesterday’s distributed computing in new standards and management layers." Xsigo says this increases complexity without addressing fundamental problems of hardware dependency, manageability, inflexible architectures, incompatible technologies and control over quality of service.

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 can be addressed with the new solution (Infonetics). Gartner has identified fabric-based infrastructure and computers as one of the top 10 strategic technologies for 2011. It says nearly 50% of respondents to a poll at a recent Gartner Data Center Conference implemented, or are in the process of implementing, fabric computing, driven by one significant aspect of virtualization.

The Xsigo solution consists of the Xsigo I/O Director, Xsigo XMS Management Software and Xsigo Fabric Extenders, as well as a software upgrade package called the SFS 1.0 Server Fabric Suite. The upgrade package includes host drivers, a management software plug-in and operating software. Slated for availability in December, the SFS 1.0 Server Fabric Suite will be licensed on a per-physical-host basis at a list price of $1,000 per host. Initially the company will target its installed base, followed by new-generation cloud service providers and then companies that are well on the way to virtualization (60% to 70% virtualization of their businesses).

Analyst Zeus Kerravala of the Yankee Group says that, unlike servers and storage, only the third building block of the data center remains exactly as it was 20 years ago, "locked to an inflexible and inefficient switch and port-based management model." While he says only time will tell if a compute approach is better than a network focus, for the short term, Xsigo should get more interest from customers. "The compute-side executives tend to be closer to the CIO than the network guys." The nice thing about Xsigo is it "allows compute guys to do what they want and network guys to do want they want." It's fabric technology addresses the need to integrate resources using a server fabric, while also simplifying things through software.

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