I/O worth millions: Weak economy signals IT's opportunity to improve data center performance

The next time financial cutbacks are on the table, consider virtualization technology to improve data center performance and achieve cost savings. Virtualization can increase network, storage, and hardware utilization, allowing organizations to reduce the number of power-consuming servers, and improve application and network performance.

03/28/2008


The next time financial cutbacks are on the table, consider virtualization technology to improve data center performance and achieve cost savings. Virtualization can increase network, storage, and hardware utilization, allowing organizations to reduce the number of power-consuming servers, and improve application and network performance.
Voltaire Ltd. fills a niche in high-speed, high-performance cluster computing that drives automotive design simulations, where speed in running data-intensive design iterations in the product engineering department—or financial modeling on Wall Street—can spell the difference between being early to market or first to conduct a trade.
Voltaire Grid Backbone server and storage switching technology leverages industry-standard InfiniBand technology. The net effect: high-speed, high-bandwidth movement of data in server cluster-arrays that boosts networked application performance. Voltaire says it excels where payback to end users is measured in millions of dollars.
“Our product is part hardware, part software,” says Patrick Guay, Voltaire senior VP of marketing, adding that Voltaire takes the InfiniBand technology that is embedded in silicon by Mellanox Technologies to create the switches on the adapter cards its customers—large computing platform manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard , IBM , and Sun —use in their server clusters.
Voltaire also provides the switching management software and interfaces that enable efficiency and speed.
“The technology enables you to tie several hundred or even thousands of servers together to build big clustered machines that drive high-performance computing applications,” says Joe Skorupa, research VP for Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner . “We’re talking applications where the difference in seconds can mean millions of dollars.”
InfiniBand has twice the bandwidth of Ethernet or Fibre Channel technology, Skorupa adds, and is expected to double again before year's end.
Instead of using multiple interface cards, Voltaire does the job with one, with its adapters providing from 24 to 288 ports. “It represents a huge cost saving of I/O management where you can condense connections and the solution doesn’t have to keep track of multiple adapter cards,” explains Guay.
Skorupa says Voltaire distinguishes itself in its creativity in managing the challenges involved, and in the ease of use of the technology. "They do a nice job in very high-performance environments with a solution that is highly scalable, and has good support for standard programming interfaces.”





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