3Leaf Bumps up x86 Capabilities

Arthur Cole

There may soon be no excuse not to outfit your enterprise with low-cost x86s rather than mainframes or RISC systems, if all goes according to plan at 3Leaf Systems. After a long "stealth" mode, the Santa Clara, Calif., startup took the wraps off its V-8000 Virtual I/O Server that aims to cure the platform of its major drawback: underutilization.


By providing I/O connectivity directly to individual machines, rather than through the typical patchwork of adapters, disks and switches, the V-8000 virtualizes system connectivity at the operating system level. In a practical sense, this will allow enterprises to retain their current scale-out architectures, or even build new ones, while offering all the benefits of a virtual scale-up design. Think of it as a central shared storage and network adapter that boosts individual x86 server utilization by several orders of magnitude.


It also comes in handy when it's time to provision new servers, according to internetnews.com. The system lets you define servers and allocate profiles in advance, so you can apply the new profiles in minutes, rather than weeks. Advanced storage policies let you adjust network or storage levels as needs change.


One key segment that would benefit from increased x86 utilization is banking and financial services. This profile of IXIS Capital Markets, for example, shows how that company bumped up its utilization to upwards of 60 percent through virtualization. And that was with a traditional I/O environment.


But as one networking technology captures the attention of the industry, another has apparently bowed out. Fabric7 was an interesting startup that attempted to do what 3Leaf is trying to accomplish through a virtual resource pool that it called fabric computing. But it looks like the company's backers ran some profit/loss projections and decided to pull the plug. It was a good try, and it may still emerge in one form or another at some point in the future. But that's life in the big city.

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