Server virtualization has done an amazing job improving server utilization and consolidation ratios in data centers. For the most part, the server industry has done a wonderful job keeping pace with virtualization technology by advancing resources like CPU and memory.
However, packing a physical server with virtual machines has caused problems with other resources -- specifically, network and storage I/O. This is especially true when organizations start virtualizing mission-critical applications that often prove to be extremely I/O intensive. As a result, I/O bottlenecks in virtual environments are a growing and persistent problem within data centers as devices and ports become overwhelmed by the many I/O requests coming from virtual machines.
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At VMworld 2010, we're really starting to hear just how big this I/O problem has become. A common question heard on the show floor isn't if you are going to hit a virtual I/O bottleneck in your virtualized data center, but when. Numerous vendors are responding to the I/O challenge. Cisco and VMware have teamed up to create a network fabric being offered through the Unified Computing System (UCS); Hewlett-Packard is addressing the issue with its BladeSystem Matrix; and third-party vendors and startups are also throwing their hats into the ring.
One of those third-party vendors is Xsigo, which offers the Xsigo I/O Director hardware and software solution to streamline server I/O management. I/O Director replaces fixed resources with virtual resources, such as virtual NICs and virtual HBAs, which appear to the server, operating system, and applications exactly as their physical counterparts. The server itself is connected by a single InfiniBand cable.
Before the start of VMworld 2010, Xsigo said it would be launching a significant new virtual I/O technology that would accelerate the advancement of data center convergence -- one of the key enablers of cloud computing.
Today Xsigo finally removed the curtains to showcase that offering -- an Ethernet-based version of its I/O Director that it claims is the industry's first virtual I/O technology to leverage the standard Ethernet ports found on every x86 server.