So back from vacation, digging out and catching up after two weeks fishing and boating, and I come across one of the more interesting data center networking products announced during my absence: Server Fabric from Cisco irritant Xsigo Systems.
Xsigo, as you may recall, champions the notion of virtual I/O, in which a lower cost I/O "director" fills in for Ethernet and Fibre Channel switches connecting servers to storage and other network resources. Xsigo's I/O Director is also designed to reduce the number of server cards required for connecting Fibre Channel, iSCSI and Ethernet devices.
This virtual I/O convergence is not taken lightly by Cisco, which took aim at Xsigo specifically in a sales presentation posted on the Xsigo blog site. In it, Cisco dismissed the concept of virtual I/O as deficient when compared to the converged and virtual I/O capabilities of its own Unified Computing System and Nexus switches, and Fibre Channel-over-Ethernet strategy.
Now Xsigo is going after servers, with its recent introduction of Server Fabric. You can read colleague Steve Lawson's coverage of the Xsigo Server Fabric here.
The Xsigo Server Fabric is essentially a configuration management tool for Xsigo's I/O Director. It is intended to enable "one-click" network connections from virtual machines to any data center resource, including servers, networks, storage, and other virtual machines.
Server Fabric is aimed at eliminating the switch- and port-based management technique that Xsigo claims is inhibiting virtual data center management. Xsigo says its Server Fabric system can significantly lower cost of operating and accelerate new service delivery over switch- and port-based configuration management. And it is optimized for cloud computing in which interactions between physical servers, virtual machines, distributed data centers and associated storage, network and compute resources need to be dynamic and flexible - not constrained by the archaic switch and port management disciplines of the past...and present.
And Xsigo says Server Fabric, through the standard Ethernet and Fibre Channel interfaces on I/O Director, can interoperate with switches, routers and SANs from Cisco, Brocade and Juniper (connections inside the I/O Director are 40G Infiniband). Server Fabric also requires Xsigo's XMS Management Software, and the company's fabric extenders. And yes, it will go up against Cisco's UCS Manager and any other connectivity configuration management GUI designed for virtual data centers.
We'd be interested in hearing from some Xsigo/Cisco customers who have done the comparison shopping between I/O Director and UCS: are the time and money savings real? Is performance comparable? Why did you choose Xsigo over Cisco for your virtual data center, and vice versa?
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