VMware Cozies up to Fibre Channel SANs

Arthur Cole

VMware came out with its long-awaited upgrades to the Virtual Infrastructure, boosting management capabilities for the ESX Server (Ver. 3.5) and VirtualCenter (Ver. 2.5) and adding some much-needed support for networked storage.


Key features include support for SATA local storage, 10G Ethernet and Infiniband, as well as TCP Segment Offload and Jumbo frames, which cuts down on I/O overhead on the CPU. Also new is support for 64 GB of RAM for virtual machines and 128 GB for physical devices.


And in a key addition for Fibre Channel users, the platform now supports the N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) protocol, the lack of which emerged as a major complaint at last month's Storage Decisions conference in New York. NPIV lets you assign virtual worldwide names (VWWNs) to individual virtual machines, says Computer Business Review, providing them with their own virtual Host Bus Adapter (HBA) rather than forcing them to share their network identities with their physical hosts. This is crucial for streamlined backup operations by giving each VM independent access to the SAN.


Networking vendors certainly lost no time in jumping on board the new Virtual Infrastructure. Emulex Corp. announced today that its LightPulse Virtual HBA, which already sports the NPIV protocol, is fully integrated into the new platform. LightPulse is a 4Gbps Fibre Channel device that provides centralized management for virtual machines using the same tools as found in physical environments.


Meanwhile, QLogic has developed an NPIV-based HBA that provides live migration capabilities, allowing admins to power down working servers for upgrades and patches without disrupting users' access to data and applications. The system also eliminates the need for zoning, LUN masking changes and other time-consuming tasks associated with SAN reconfiguration.


Management of virtual infrastructure continues to be one of the chief sticking points inhibiting widespread adoption of virtual technology. Now that the divide between the SAN and the virtual environment is starting to shrink, virtualization should spread much more quickly throughout the enterprise industry.

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