Voltaire Envisions Mondo-Provisioning

Adds software to automate server and storage provisioning in data centers

September 26, 2006

4 Min Read
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Voltaire has announced a set of configuration capabilities that could make life easier for users of its InfiniBand switches.

The vendor today unveiled GridVision, a Linux-based software package that automatically locates storage devices, servers, and nework equipment connected to its Grid Director switches, then automatically provisions the associated resources by application. (See Voltaire Simplifies Provisioning.)

The linchpin in GridVision is an object model for which Voltaire has created a Java-based user interface and a set of APIs. The APIs can be used by third parties to integrate the provisioning interface with virtual servers, virtual storage, and management applications. IT pros can click their way, Voltaire says, to assigning storage and CPU power -- including virtual LUNs and servers -- to specific users, groups, and applications.

It sounds terrific. Too bad it's not here yet. Problem number one: GridVision itself won't ship until the end of December, through Voltaire OEMs that include HP, IBM, NEC, SGI, and Sun. Problem number two: GridVision does not support virtual devices or connections on its own, but requires integration by partners to bring virtual servers and storage products under the interface. While AMD, FalconStor Software, IBM, Intel, Mellanox Technologies, Novell, Platform Computing, United Devices, VMware, and XenSource have pledged partnership, only XenSource has been integrated so far, and that integration was done by Voltaire. Problem three: You'll need to be a fan of InfiniBand to use GridVision.

At least one potential customer isn't letting any of this dampen his enthusiasm for what Voltaire is trying to do. "It's very cool stuff," says Alex Perez, senior technology architect Assurant Solutions Inc., an insurance firm in Miami. He is preparing to test GridVision against solutions from several unnamed vendors, but he's impressed with what he's seen and heard so far.For instance, if the accounting department wants a server in his organization, IT usually orders one. Theoretically, that server could sit around until the accounting project for which it is needed begins. "[GridVision] would let me leverage a server to do something else," he says. Or, he could siphon off CPU and storage as needed for one application, while another department uses the remaining resources for something else.

The fact that InfiniBand is key to GridVision is a plus from Perez's perspective. "We had several projects going that led us to InfiniBand," he notes. These include a project on data warehousing and one involving porting a mainframe database application to a clustered environment. In both instances, the databases, IBM's DB2 and Oracle's 10g, "run really nicely on InfiniBand," Perez says.

While Voltaire's switches support Gigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel along with InfiniBand, the common denominator is the InfiniBand network.

So far, the competitive landscape is mixed. There are a variety of configuration and provisioning utilities for virtual devices out there. But most tap into either servers or storage, not both. (See Qlusters Intros openQRM Pro.) Two other InfiniBand vendors, Cisco and SilverStorm, also offer management and provisioning with their products, but so far neither combines servers, storage, and network device provisioning with an API for outside integration -- all under a Web-based interface. (See QLogic Eyes SilverStorm, Cisco Takes On Topspin, and Cisco Topspins Into Virtualization.)

The proof of concept for Voltaire can only come as products emerge. "This is a starting vision," says Arun Taneja, president of the Taneja Group consultancy. He has a few reservations. "It's important to note that GridVision doesn't provide any virtualization on its own. It is a framework that will allow you to connect IP, InfiniBand, and Fibre Channel and provision resources."He notes that Cisco plans something similar for its VFrame software, which runs with the InfiniBand switches Cisco bought with its TopSpin purchase in 2005. That makes it tough to foresee how the market will shape up. "Cisco may choose to provide more services... It's too early to have any sense of differences. Fundamentally, they are trying to solve the same problem."

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)

  • Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: MLNX)

  • NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY; Tokyo: 6701)

  • Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL)

  • Platform Computing

  • SGI

  • SilverStorm Technologies Inc.

  • Taneja Group

  • United Devices

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • Voltaire Inc.

  • XenSource Inc.

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