VMware users will soon be able to dramatically simplify their networking infrastructure with the coming implementation of the OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution (OFED) 1.2.5 into the ESX Server 3.5 and the VirtualCenter 2.5.
One of the chief advantages will be the enablement of Infiniband adapters capable of replacing the multiple Fibre Channel HBAs and GE NICs that most networks hold. Mellanox Technologies is likely to be one of the first vendors to tap into the VMware environment, having worked closely with the company on the OFED project.
According to Mellanox, a single Infiniband-enabled ESX host can maintain throughput for up to four virtual machines at about 400 MBps each. An equivalent Fibre Channel system would require four 4 Gbps HBAs, one tied to each VM. The VirtualCenter 2.5 software is able to transparently configure virtual NICs and HBAs over a unified Infiniband I/O adapter, maintaining such functions as high-availability and virtual machine migration.
Release of the next VMware Infrastructure platform is due by the end of the year, and Mellanox expects to have its OFED-compliant software drivers ready for the launch.