Poll: Networking Convergence, Ethernet, InfiniBand or both?

January 13, 2010 – 12:16 am
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I just received an email in my inbox from Voltaire along with a pile of other advertisements, advisories, alerts and announcements from other folks.

What caught my eye on the email was that it is announcing a new survey results that you can read here as well as below.

The question that this survey announcements prompts for me and hence why I am posting it here is how dominant will InfiniBand be on a go forward basis, the answer I think is it depends…

It depends on the target market or audience, what their applications and technology preferences are along with other service requirements.

I think that there is and will remain a place for Infiniband, the question is where and for what types of environments as well as why have both InfiniBand and Ethernet including Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) in support of unified or converged I/O and data networking.

So here is the note that I received from Voltaire:

 

Hello,

A new survey by Voltaire (NASDAQ: VOLT) reveals that IT executives plan to use InfiniBand and Ethernet technologies together as they refresh or build new data centers. They’re choosing a converged network strategy to improve fabric performance which in turn furthers their infrastructure consolidation and efficiency objectives.

The full press release is below.  Please contact me if you would like to speak with a Voltaire executive for further commentary.

Regards,
Christy

____________________________________________________________
Christy Lynch| 978.439.5407(o) |617.794.1362(m)
Director, Corporate Communications
Voltaire – The Leader in Scale-Out Data Center Fabrics
[email protected] | www.voltaire.com
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/voltaireltd

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

IT Survey Finds Executives Planning Converged Network Strategy:
Using Both InfiniBand and Ethernet

Fabric Performance Key to Making Data Centers Operate More Efficiently

CHELMSFORD, Mass. and ANANA, Israel January 12, 2010 – A new survey by Voltaire (NASDAQ: VOLT) reveals that IT executives plan to use InfiniBand and Ethernet technologies together as they refresh or build new data centers. They’re choosing a converged network strategy to improve fabric performance which in turn furthers their infrastructure consolidation and efficiency objectives.

Voltaire queried more than 120 members of the Global CIO & Executive IT Group, which includes CIOs, senior IT executives, and others in the field that attended the 2009 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. The survey explored their data center networking needs, their choice of interconnect technologies (fabrics) for the enterprise, and criteria for making technology purchasing decisions.

“Increasingly, InfiniBand and Ethernet share the ability to address key networking requirements of virtualized, scale-out data centers, such as performance, efficiency, and scalability,” noted Asaf Somekh, vice president of marketing, Voltaire. “By adopting a converged network strategy, IT executives can build on their pre-existing investments, and leverage the best of both technologies.”

When asked about their fabric choices, 45 percent of the respondents said they planned to implement both InfiniBand with Ethernet as they made future data center enhancements. Another 54 percent intended to rely on Ethernet alone.

Among additional survey results:

  • When asked to rank the most important characteristics for their data center fabric, the largest number (31 percent) cited high bandwidth. Twenty-two percent cited low latency, and 17 percent said scalability.
  • When asked about their top data center networking priorities for the next two years, 34 percent again cited performance. Twenty-seven percent mentioned reducing costs, and 16 percent cited improving service levels.
  • A majority (nearly 60 percent) favored a fabric/network that is supported or backed by a global server manufacturer.

InfiniBand and Ethernet interconnect technologies are widely used in today’s data centers to speed up and make the most of computing applications, and to enable faster sharing of data among storage and server networks. Voltaire’s server and storage fabric switches leverage both technologies for optimum efficiency. The company provides InfiniBand products used in supercomputers, high-performance computing, and enterprise environments, as well as its Ethernet products to help a broad array of enterprise data centers meet their performance requirements and consolidation plans.

About Voltaire
Voltaire (NASDAQ: VOLT) is a leading provider of scale-out computing fabrics for data centers, high performance computing and cloud environments. Voltaire’s family of server and storage fabric switches and advanced management software improve performance of mission-critical applications, increase efficiency and reduce costs through infrastructure consolidation and lower power consumption. Used by more than 30 percent of the Fortune 100 and other premier organizations across many industries, including many of the TOP500 supercomputers, Voltaire products are included in server and blade offerings from Bull, HP, IBM, NEC and Sun. Founded in 1997, Voltaire is headquartered in Ra’anana, Israel and Chelmsford, Massachusetts. More information is available at www.voltaire.com or by calling 1-800-865-8247.

Forward Looking Statements
Information provided in this press release may contain statements relating to current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about future events that are "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements generally relate to Voltaire’s plans, objectives and expectations for future operations and are based upon management’s current estimates and projections of future results or trends. They also include third-party projections regarding expected industry growth rates. Actual future results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties. These factors include, but are not limited to, those discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" in Voltaire’s annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2008. These forward-looking statements are made only as of the date hereof, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

###

All product and company names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

 

End of Voltaire transmission:

I/O, storage and networking interface wars come and go similar to other technology debates of what is the best or that will be supreme.

Some recent debates have been around Fibre Channel vs. iSCSI or iSCSI vs. Fibre Channel (depends on your perspective), SAN vs. NAS, NAS vs. SAS, SAS vs. iSCSI or Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel vs. Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) vs. iSCSI vs. InfiniBand, xWDM vs. SONET or MPLS, IP vs UDP or other IP based services, not to mention the whole LAN, SAN, MAN, WAN POTS and PAN speed games of 1G, 2G, 4G, 8G, 10G, 40G or 100G. Of course there are also the I/O virtualization (IOV) discussions including PCIe Single Root (SR) and Multi Root (MR) for attachment of SAS/SATA, Ethernet, Fibre Channel or other adapters vs. other approaches.

Thus when I routinely get asked about what is the best, my answer usually is a qualified it depends based on what you are doing, trying to accomplish, your environment, preferences among others. In other words, Im not hung up or tied to anyone particular networking transport, protocol, network or interface, rather, the ones that work and are most applicable to the task at hand

Now getting back to Voltaire and InfiniBand which I think has a future for some environments, however I dont see it being the be all end all it was once promoted to be. And outside of the InfiniBand faithful (there are also iSCSI, SAS, Fibre Channel, FCoE, CEE and DCE among other devotees), I suspect that the results would be mixed.

I suspect that the Voltaire survey reflects that as well as if I surveyed an Ethernet dominate environment I can take a pretty good guess at the results, likewise for a Fibre Channel, or FCoE influenced environment. Not to mention the composition of the environment, focus and business or applications being supported. One would also expect a slightly different survey results from the likes of Aprius, Broadcom, Brocade, Cisco, Emulex, Mellanox (they also are involved with InfiniBand), NextIO, Qlogic (they actually do some Infiniband activity as well), Virtensys or Xsigo (actually, they support convergence of Fibre Channel and Ethernet via Infiniband) among others.

Ok, so what is your take?

Whats your preffered network interface for convergence?

For additional reading, here are some related links:

  • I/O Virtualization (IOV) Revisited
  • I/O, I/O, Its off to Virtual Work and VMworld I Go (or went)
  • Buzzword Bingo 1.0 – Are you ready for fall product announcements?
  • StorageIO in the News Update V2010.1
  • The Green and Virtual Data Center (Chapter 9)
  • Also check out what others including Scott Lowe have to say about IOV here or, Stuart Miniman about FCoE here, or of Greg Ferro here.
  • Oh, and for what its worth for those concerned about FTC disclosure, Voltaire is not nor have they been a client of StorageIO, however, I did used to work for a Fibre Channel, iSCSI, IP storage, LAN, SAN, MAN, WAN vendor and wrote a book on the topics :).

    Cheers
    Gs

    Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier, 2004)

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