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Q&A with NextIO: vNET I/O Maestro and I/O Virtualization

NextIO recently announced the general availability of their new vNET I/O Maestro, a top of rack appliance that helps data centers and virtualization solutions with deployment and management of complex server I/O by consolidating and virtualizing the I/O resources.  To find out more information, I met with NextIO's John Meadows to get a better understanding of their technology.    

VMblog.com:  Can you describe what you guys are hearing as some of the current problems in today’s data centers?  

NextIO:  Sure, IT managers are being asked to design and support a wide variety of complex projects such as on-demand private and hybrid clouds, virtual desktop roll-outs, and virtualizing mission critical applications.  At the same time, IT budgets are under tremendous downward pressure.  There is a big need to consolidate hardware and increase utilization of resources throughout the IT stack. 

VMblog.com:  Explain if you would how PCI Express-based I/O Virtualization can alleviate any of the pain points they might be experiencing?

NextIO:  PCIe based I/O virtualization helps alleviate these pain points and we believe will be a key component of next generation data centers.  I/O virtualization separates the compute from the I/O resources so that each can be managed independently, providing much greater flexibility and utilization of both compute and I/O resources.

VMblog.com:  So why use PCI-Express at the top of the rack instead of something else like InfiniBand, 10GbE or FCoE?

NextIO:  That's a good question.  The industry standard PCI Express (PCIe) switching technology is built into every server and gives 40Gig of I/O connectivity FOR FREE to every device.  The vNET I/O Maestro can support any PCIe device out there, from a legacy device to the latest and greatest technology being offered.

VMblog.com:  Ok, that's a good segue.  Explain to us, what exactly is the vNET I/O Maestro?

NextIO:  The vNET I/O Maestro is a top of rack appliance that allows servers to share a variety of I/O resources, including Fibre Channel and Ethernet, through a standard PCI-Express connection.

VMblog.com:  Can you explain how using the vNET I/O Maestro can reduce the cost of running a data center?

NextIO:  Well, a key to reducing cost is the "Wire Once" concept.  The vNET Maestro is connected to each server with a single PCIe cable, replacing numerous Ethernet and Fibre Channel connections.  This simplifies the deployment and management of complex server I/O by eliminating the need for dedicated I/O cards in servers, and it significantly reduces the number of leaf switches and cables in datacenter racks.  Because the vNET I/O Maestro uses PCIe standards, customers avoid the vendor lock-in created by other proprietary fabric interconnects.

Operationally, the vNET I/O Maestro future-proofs your devices.  For example, as 16 Gb fibre channel or 40 Gb Ethernet becomes available, that change in I/O can be made once at the vNET I/O Maestro level rather than a wholesale upgrade of every server.  I/O resources and flash storage can be deployed and reassigned remotely - no hands have to touch the hardware.  Finally, customers are able to deploy thinner servers as compute nodes, 1U instead of 4U, shrinking the hardware footprint and generating savings on power, cooling, and colo space rentals.

VMblog.com:  What types of environments would benefit from using a solution like vNET I/O Maestro?

NextIO: Virtual environments benefit in a number of ways, including better virtual desktop performance, higher workload densities, and improved SLA performance due to dedicated bandwidth assignments.  In certain high performance situations, flash-based storage can be deployed in the vNET device to minimize latency and improve application processing.  For example, an online advertising company was able to eliminate their I/O bottleneck using the vNET with flash-based storage and increased their server workloads by 5x.

VMblog.com:  I've talked with other I/O companies, can you explain to me and the readers how your vNET I/O Maestro is different from those competitive offerings out there?

NextIO:  The vNET I/O Maestro provides all of the positives of shared I/O without requiring risky proprietary drivers, changes to customers' practices, or vendor lock-in.  And it is completely transparent to the server, operating system, applications, and the network.  This means that it can be dropped into existing datacenters without requiring changes to governance policies.

Your readers can also visit our website for more information, join our mailing list to stay up to date or contact us to schedule a 1:1 demo.

Published Friday, October 21, 2011 6:30 AM by David Marshall
Comments
VMblog.com - Virtualization Technology News and Information for Everyone - (Author's Link) - October 21, 2011 11:28 AM

Check out this video overview of NextIO and their I/O virtualization solution. Very nice and easy to follow and understand.

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