VMworld: Xsigo Introduces Card-Free Virtual I/O for Ethernet

At the VMworld show today, Xsigo unveiled an Ethernet version of its line of virtual I/O directors, complementing its existing family of InfiniBand-based I/O directors (which are resold by vendors such as Dell).

Xsigo positions the virtual I/O directors as an alternative to Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) approaches to converged networks and cloud computing architectures. Unlike FCoE, Xsigo’s I/O directors do not require adapters to be installed in the attached servers.

“You‘re getting rid of expensive FCoE cards, which can cost $1,500, but you still have Fibre Channel, Giagabit Ethernet and 10Gb Ethernet connectivity,” says Jon Toor, Xsigo’s vice president of marketing.

Toor claims that the virtual I/O directors, with 10GbE, provide the same performance as FCoE at a fraction of the cost. In addition to Ethernet and Fibre Channel, the virtual I/O directors support NAS and iSCSI protocols.

Factoring in the cost of the I/O director, Toor claims that Xsigo’s approach costs about $500 per server, or 33 percent of the cost of an FCoE-based approach. And he claims that the virtual I/O directors are less than 25 percent of the cost of an approach based on Cisco’s Nexus 5000 switch with FCoE connectivity and FCoE converged network adapters (CNAs) in the hosts.

Xsigo’s Ethernet-based I/O directors are available in two versions: the VP560e I/O Director ($35,000) has 32 10GbE ports and up to four I/O modules, and the VP780e I/O Director ($45,000) has 32 10GbE ports and up to 15 I/O modules.

In addition to FCoE CNAs, Xsigo’s virtual I/O directors are an alternative to PCIe link extenders.

The Ethernet-based I/O directors can connect servers to as many as 64 Ethernet or Fibre Channel networks with a single Ethernet cable. And Toor says that users will require approximately 80 percent fewer switch ports compared to alternative approached to converged data centers.

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