Topspin Serves Up ‘Remote Boot’ Switch

Looking to improve the virtualization capabilities of its products, gear maker Topspin Communications said Monday that it has created a switch to pipe application, operating system, storage, and I/O resources to a server, on demand.

Using the speedy InfiniBand interconnect, the company has crafted its Boot over InfiniBand product to allow blade servers from the likes of IBM , Sun Microsystems , and Dell to be deployed in a “stateless” fashion in the time it takes to reboot. This is optimal for clusters of blades.

The product consists of a new “remote-boot” version of its host channel adapter (HCA), a server switch, and one or more Ethernet or Fibre Channel gateways. Stu Aaron, vice president of marketing and business development at Mountain View, Calif.-based Topspin, explained how the technology works.

First, application and OS images are deposited in storage and tracked by the appropriate Topspin gateway. When a server needs to have an image provisioned to it, the remote-boot HCA points the server to the image in storage and boots the server over the network with that image. The Server Switch provides the cross-connects to bring I/O and storage resources to the new server/application pair.

This allows the server to be offered “virtually” over the network on the fly to cut the provisioning time for new applications, according to Aaron. The product dovetails with the outfit’s strategy to offer products that rev server performance.

Aaron told Topspin sees itself moving with the product at a time when companies who make computing gear have been looking to punch up their products and accommodate the red-hot utility computing craze.

“This virtualization functionality connects the dots between InfiniBand and server virtualization to let systems vendors extend InfiniBand squarely into on-demand,” Aaron said.

He noted that the technology will allow blade servers to gain traction with the advancement of such technologies as virtualization, a method of provisioning that allows multiple instance of an OS, application, or storage access through one machine. Boot over InfiniBand could enable blade clustering and transition those clusters into a grid for server virtualization.

Virtualization is a key component of on-demand computing, which several vendors such as IBM, HP, Sun Microsystems, and VERITAS Software have been trying to sell to their customers. This type of computing allows customers the control to raise or lower the amount of computing resources they require based on spikes or dips in traffic.

Also referred to as utility computing, this practice usually lets customers pay for the computing they need as they go, akin to the way homeowners consume power from an electric company.

Topspin’s Boot over InfiniBand solution is in trials and will be available at the end of the month. The product will be on display this week at the Server Blade Summit in San Jose, California.

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Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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