By Kevin Komiega
-- A new player emerged in the budding I/O virtualization market this week when VirtenSys announced the availability of its I/O Virtualization (IOV) Switches to server and storage OEMs.
IOV switches are designed to reduce operational complexity and cost by virtualizing all the I/O resources used to connect servers and storage devices to networks, including host adapters, cabling, the first level of aggregation switches, and local server disks.
The VirtenSys switches use the PCIe bus to consolidate and virtualize standard I/O adapters and share them among multiple physical and virtual servers, without requiring any changes to servers, operating systems, I/O adapters, or device drivers.
The IOV switches attach directly to multiple physical servers and support Intel's 10Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) network interface cards (NICs), Neterion's 10GbE NICs, and QLogic's Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs).
The result is a reduction in the number of I/O components and cables, and a boost in I/O utilization and throughput, according to Bob Napaa, vice president of business development at VirtenSys. He says that phase one of data center virtualization – server and storage virtualization – is complete. The second phase is virtualizing the I/O layer.
"Servers and storage have been virtualized, but the underlying I/O infrastructure and hardware are still the same. Server performance is getting much higher, but management and maintenance costs are going through the roof because I/O has become the new data center bottleneck," says Napaa.
The IOV switches are available in both rack-mount and blade-server form factors. VirtenSys plans to expand its portfolio of supported interfaces and I/O adapters including, in the near term, support for SAS/SATA I/O adapters. In addition, VirtenSys is working toward VMware Ready Certified status for the IOV switches.