Gain A Competitive Advantage

10 Gigabit Ethernet, Data Center, InfiniBand

BridgeX received an excellent response from all the analysts that we briefed over the last few weeks. 

 One article talked about how BridgeX reminded the author of the early days of networking when networking companies delivered bridges for Ethernet, Token Ring and Banyan Vines.  The other one talked about the mish-mosh of protocols in the data center as a familiar story.   

 In my opinion, when data centers moved from Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet it was an easy decision because of the 10x performance improvements that were necessitated by the growth in Internet applications. The same 10x performance is now available with 10 Gigabit Ethernet but the data centers have not jumped into deploying the technology yet. Why?  The killer-app for 10 Gigabit Ethernet is I/O consolidation but the Ethernet protocol itself is still being enhanced in order for it to be deployed as an I/O consolidation fabric. Enhancements to the Ethernet protocol are being made within the IEEE Data Center Bridging Workgroup.  These enhancements will deliver new functionalities to Ethernet, yet the timeline for products is still a BIG question mark. Normally, in a growth economy, products will roll out within 12 to 18 months of spec finalization, whereas in the current economic condition it might taker a longer time and the spec is at least 18 months away for finalization. Till then,10 Gigabit Ethernet deployments will happen in data centers in smaller, niche applications and will not be deployed for I/O consolidation. So, if data centers want to save energy costs, reduce floor space and lower TCO today, then deploying a proven I/O consolidation fabric is critical. 

Just some of the enhancements currently being made to the Ethernet protocol in the IEEE:

  1. Lossless fabric
  2. Creating Virtual Lanes and providing granular QoS
  3. Enabling Fat-Tree
  4. Congestion management

These are already part of the InfiniBand fabric which has been shipping for almost 9 years now, and has been successfully deployed in several data centers and high-performance commercial applications.

Oracle Exadata is a great product that drives InfiniBand to the forefront of data centers for database applications. Exadata brings in new thinking and new strategy for delivering higher I/Os and lowering energy costs. Exadata certainly delivers a competitive advantage. 

Similarly, BridgeX coupled with ConnectX adapters and InfiniScale switching platforms provides competitive advantages by delivering a costoptimized,I/O consolidation fabric. Data centers can consolidate their I/O using InfiniBand as the physical fabric and the virtual fabric will continue to be Ethernet or Fibre Channel. This means that the applications that need an Ethernet transport or a Fibre Channel transport will run un-modified in the InfiniBand cloud.   

I think it is time for the data centers to take a new look at their infrastructure and re-strategize the investments to gain an even greater competitive advantage. When the economy turns around, those who have infrastructure that can leapfrog their competition will eventually win.

TA Ramanujam (TAR)

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