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Virtual Iron Optimizes Datacenters via Virtualization

Virtual Datacenter Realities

  • February 14, 2005
  • By Brian Proffitt

Got datacenter? Are your servers feeling underutilized? Uncoordinated? There may be an answer for your problem, if today's announcement from Virtual Iron Software, Inc. is any indication.

In conjunction with LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, the Acton, MA-based company is announcing their new Virtual Iron VFe product, touted as a "technology that enables businesses to dynamically bring computing power to any workload at any time utilizing industry-standard hardware--dramatically redefining the enterprise datacenter," according to a press statement.

In non-market speak, if you have commodity servers with low-latency interconnects, such as Infiniband, then you can plug VFe into your datacenter and start allocating all of your server power into whatever computing configuration you need.

Think RAID or Logical Volume Manager for processors, and you'll get the idea.

The VFe product is the result of many months work from Virtual Iron, which sees a real need for datacenters to get their collective act together and get the full utilization out of the machines they do have.

Across connected machines, VFe can allocate anywhere from one-tenth to 16 processors worth of power. Depending on the computing needs, these configuration of the collected servers can be changed into different topologies on the fly, according to Alex Vasilevsky, Executive VP or Technology and Architecture, Chief Scientist, and Co-Founder of Virtual Iron.

"The trick is to do this right and make it transparent," Vasilevsky said of his company's new product. To accomplish this, VFe is installed on the bare metal of the server, so it can virtually allocate the processing power and other aspects of the connected servers without introducing a lot of management overhead to the running processes.

Along with processor power, VFe will also manage system memory, network access, and storage access, Vasilevsky explained.

With VFe, commoditized x86 servers can be used adaptive virtual computers--freeing customers from proprietary hardware. Since these virtual computers also behave like x86 servers supported by Linux, they run any Linux application transparently; there is no need to re-write existing applications.

Vasilivesky also outlined that because this virtualization is similar to RAID in many aspects, VFe can deliver RAID-like coverage for disaster recovery, only applied to the whole machine, not just storage. As such, a basic high-availability capability is provided to VFe users, such as hotswapping and failover.

"Instead of 2N disaster recovery needs," Vasilevsky explained, "customers can move to an N+1 failover strategy."

Because the hardware requirements are relatively low (commodity servers and an Infiniband connection), Virtual Iron hopes that VFe will assist in the deployment of efficient datacenter configurations across a wide range of customer channels.

"We're bringing the concept of grids to a general purpose customer base," said Bob Guilbert, VP of Marketing and Business Development.

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