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09.29.05

Cisco Weaves Virtualization Into Server Fabric


By David Utter

The VFrame system management software from Cisco has been updated to version 3.0 in a new release.

Networking poses a difficult enough challenge for administrators, and the difficulty increases as more hardware joins the system. Take a data center and its multitude of devices into account, and management prospects become formidable enough to make the most seasoned admin start thinking about a career change.

Cisco has recognized the issues related to managing numerous devices. They've done well at creating effective Web-based management interfaces; it's certainly possible to admin their VPN Concentrator without using one, for example, but a much faster prospect with it.

For a while, Cisco has been tweaking its VFrame product. It's now in version 3.0, and the company thinks it has nailed down data center management, as it notes in a statement:

VFrame provides virtualization, orchestration, and provisioning services to address Cisco data center resources, including: switching, data network, load balancing, and security products. It will become the foundation for a Cisco virtualization software suite that will deliver end-to-end manageability, control, and virtualization across the data center network.

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Those provisioning services happen across the data center, and they happen automatically as new applications come online. "VFrame provisions these compute services based on any number of criteria, including business application, time-of-day, required compute power, or standby servers for higher availability," Cisco said in a datasheet.

A server pool in the data center becomes a single unified resource under virtualization. Those servers can be Linux or Windows boxes. Cisco likes to use the metaphor of resources as a fabric, and notes how VFrame interconnects those server and I/O resources together.

Part of that fabric in Cisco's world will be the InfiniBand Server Fabric Switches. Those switches allow a data center to combine its I/O resources "into a single high-speed, low-latency 10Gbps unified InfiniBand fabric." This is where the VFrame system steps into the forefront, by taking advantage of virtual Host Bus Adapters and IP interfaces.

Cisco says those virtual interfaces reduce the expense of overhead associated with Fibre Channel HBAs. By aggregating adapters and utilizing networked storage, a server becomes as big as it needs to be under virtualization, and isn't limited to the CPU and memory physically present inside a single piece of hardware.

About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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