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Networking equipment

Xsigo Systems Inc. VP780 I/O Director

From a single interface, users can manage all assets: virtual NICs, virtual HBAs, storage access, SAN boot attributes and quality of service.

Do you hate messing with cables, HBAs and NICs, and wish most of them would just disappear? Does your data center need to direct IO traffic from both a SAN and a LAN? Xsigo Systems Inc.'s VP780 I/O Director delivers converged IO, which means that all servers have access to all LANs and SANs. This is useful in virtualized environments where IO patterns are frequently changing. Some have called this concept the next-generation approach to storage and network connectivity.

Here's how it works: Installation consists of one card in each server, plus a driver (just like installing an HBA). One cable (two for redundancy) connects to the I/O Director. The SAN and LAN attach to the Xsigo VP780 I/O Director, which creates virtual HBAs and NICS that are deployed to the servers by a simple drag-and-drop operation within a browser-based GUI. The GUI presents an up-to-date view of your storage environment, including all the virtual resources, their status and performance. Connectivity can be moved from one server to another while all identities are maintained.

The Xsigo VP780 I/O

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Director includes 24 server ports (10Gb/sec each), 15 slots for IO Modules, a low-latency nonblocking fabric (780Gb/sec bandwidth), management tools and the XsigOS operating system. Plug-in modules provide SAN and LAN connectivity. You'll need to install a Mellanox Technologies Ltd. ConnectX IB InfiniBand host channel adapter (HCA) in each server. An expansion switch adds 24 server ports and the solution is scalable to hundreds of servers.

The caveats: Several judges praised the Xsigo VP780 I/O Director's innovation, but questioned whether storage managers were ready to embrace, as one put it, "a sea change in the data center." But to reap huge benefits the old ways of doing things sometimes need to be changed; that's why Xsigo won the gold in this category.

This was first published in February 2008

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