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Senior Editor

Server virtualization techniques

Aug 25, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsIBMServer Virtualization

* IBM's HiperSockets

Virtualization is all the rage. By using virtualization technologies users can eliminate multiple physical servers and get the processing power they need from fewer boxes.

That’s the idea anyway. But according to our Special Focus author this week (, those virtualized servers need to communicate with each other and as such new technologies will likely rise to speed performance and ensure security. IBM, Sun and HP have all looked at or developed these server interconnect technologies. Other technologies such as InfiniBand, the high-speed I/O switching fabric and 10-Gigabit Ethernet are also emerging.

IBM seems to be the furthest along however, analysts say. The company developed HiperSockets, a technology used in its z900 mainframe, to address performance issues. And analysts expect technologies like it will become more widely deployed as data centers morph into on-demand environments where communication and resource sharing are essential.

HiperSockets basically creates a virtual LAN inside a zSeries mainframe. It is not hardware, although there is hardware supporting it. Rather, it is microcode, or firmware, that uses TCP/IP protocol to move traffic among operating system images, allowing for memory-to-memory communication. Because it uses the memory bus for its communication channel, HiperSockets results in performance that is far faster with less latency than typical external network connections such as Ethernet, IBM says.

Called a “network in a box” by IBM, HiperSockets originally was introduced to reduce the external gear needed to support consolidated workloads on the mainframe and at the same time provide a highly available, high-speed network connection among combinations of virtual servers and logical partitions. Analysts say the technology will come in handy as users consolidate workloads and look for ways to improve communication among virtualized servers.

For more on this Special Focus see: