Sometimes this blog is about issues and trends sweeping the data center industry, and sometimes it's about stuff. This is one about stuff, particularly 10 Gigabit Ethernet stuff, which is just about anywhere you care to look at SC08 this year.
In normal product categories, vendors try to differentiate themselves through technological innovation: better, faster, cheaper. But with 10 GbE such a well-defined spec, the focus instead is on integration prowess: whose system has the broadest industry support so it can be easily deployed without a lot of custom tweaking.
That's why we see companies like Arista Networks broadening the interoperability of its 7100 switches so that they jive with NICs and adapters from Chelsio, Intel, Mellanox, Neterion and others. The company is aiming for a complete end-to-end 10 GbE ecosystem using a minimum of cabling and drawing the least power while still providing seamless application access.
Extreme Networks is showing off its interoperability creds by demoing its switching solutions with The Ethernet Alliance. The company is highlighting the Summit X650 stackable switch in a real-world virtual environment consisting of storage, IP video and prioritized network traffic. The X650 offers 32 10 GbE ports suitable for either 10 Gbase-T copper or SFP+ fiber connectivity.
Solarflare is looking to tap into what it hopes will be a vibrant Citrix community, using XenServer 5.0's direct path architecture feature that gives applications running on virtual machines direct access to the adapter. The company will demo the capability using the 10Xpress 10 Gbase-T PHY and the Solarstorm 10 GbE controller, both of which are part of the company's vNIC architecture geared toward extending 10 GbE connectivity to virtual environments.
Ethernet being what it is, there is always the concern of losing data packets when traveling from point A to point B. Fulcrum Microsystems says it is working on that problem with the new Monaco 24-port SFP+ switch reference design. The company is demoing it with Chelsio's Unified Wire network adapters to show lossless performance while running concurrent HPC, NFS, Web, multicast video and FCoE data flows. The Monaco design uses the company's VantagePoint congestion-management system and FocalPoint low-latency technology.
For the vast majority of you, the fabric of the future will be built on Ethernet. And since networking is the key component for both virtual infrastructures and the cloud, it serves everyone's interest to have 10 GbE as interoperable as possible.