Ethernet aimed at data center virtual machines

Combatants in the data center wars keep reloading. This week, two switching vendors -- Extreme Networks and Voltaire -- unveiled Ethernet gear designed to support the growing number of virtual machines moving around data centers, and provide a bridge to legacy environments such as Infiniband.

Ethernet everywhere!

The move by these two smaller players come as larger combatants like Cisco, Juniper, Brocade, HP and IBM continue to stock their arsenals and line up allies for what is certain to be a long battle for control of enterprise and service provider data centers. Later this quarter, Cisco is expected to roll out 10G data center and virtualization tools, and perhaps this week discuss enhanced partnerships at its Networkers conference in Barcelona.

And new Ethernet standards are being defined to help manage the growing number of switched VMs. That's an area where Extreme is targeting its new products -- modules for its BlackDiamond 8900 core switch and a new Summit X480 stackable edge switch. Both support large MAC and IP address tables corresponding to the growth of data center VMs.

The BlackDiamond 8900-xl modules do not increase port density on the core switch -- 582 10G ports per rack -- but they allow the switch to support 512K MAC and IP addresses per switch. This is an increase from 32k on the 8900.

The new Summit X480 edge data center switch also supports 512K MAC addresses. It, too, does not increase port density beyond the 24 to 48 10/100/1000 ports of Extreme's Summit X450a edge switch, which supports 16k MAC and IP addresses.

The BlackDiamond –xl modules start at $15,995. The Summit X480 costs $9,995 for copper and $11,995 for fiber. Both products will be available later this quarter.

To connect an Extreme -- or any vendors' -- Ethernet environment to installed Infiniband fabrics, Voltaire rolled out the GridDirector 4036E gateway. The 4036E sports 34 non-blocking 40Gbps InfiniBand ports and two 1 or 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports. It can bridge traffic in less than 2 microseconds, Voltaire claims, at less than 100 nanoseconds of latency.

The1U Infiniband switch can be used in financial services for multicasting real-time market data feeds, and in high-performance storage and clustered database applications. It will be available later this quarter at $1,000 per port.

This story, "Ethernet aimed at data center virtual machines" was originally published by Network World.

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