Startup enters I/O virtualization fray

3Leaf virtualizes the networking fabric with its V-8000 Virtual I/O Server

Virtualization startup 3Leaf Systems today announced its flagship V-8000 Virtual I/O Server, as well as $20 million in Series B investment, led by Intel Capital.

The V-8000 is the first in a series of virtualization products that the company will release in an attempt to improve the efficiency of enterprise commodity-server-based datacenters.

The announcement puts 3Leaf on the short list of vendors exploring I/O virtualization. Cisco's VFrame -- brought on board by way of the company's Topspin Communications acquisition -- and HP Virtual Connect represent two stalwarts' takes on the technology. Voltaire's GridVision is another networking virtualization offering from a specialized player in the burgeoning space.

Aimed at providing mainframe-class virtualization functionality to commodity servers, 3Leaf's V-8000 establishes a virtualization layer through which servers can connect with the enterprise SAN. The technology exposes storage hardware to these servers through a VCE (virtual computer environment), which virtualizes the servers' networking and storage interfaces, replacing them with a single 10Gbps fabric, according to the company.

The V-8000 renders participating x86 commodity servers diskless and stateless, enabling them to connect with storage devices via virtualized NICs and HBAs. As a result, the product facilitates server deployment and reduces the number of drivers an enterprise must maintain. Moreover, the technology ensures high availability by providing a central point for managing connectivity, thereby improving uptime, utilization, and throughput, the company said.

The V-8000 supports VMware, Xen, and Microsoft virtualization and is managed through a platform-independent console, which provides insight into real-time events and centralizes the policy-based management of all V-8000s deployed.

Emerging from stealth mode, the company also announced an influx of funding, which included further participation from existing 3Leaf investors Enterprise Partners, Storm Ventures, and Alloy Ventures. The investment brings 3Leaf's total funding to $32.5 million to date.

The company also announced that John Kelley, former CEO and chairman of McData, has joined the 3Leaf board of directors, which includes representatives of Storm Ventures, Alloy Ventures, and Enterprise Partners, as well as Bob Quinn, 3Leaf's founder and CEO.