RealTime IT News

IBM 10G Advance Speeds Blade System

IBM has pumped up its Blade Center H system with its Virtual Fabric Architecture, a set of technologies that includes what IBM said is the industry's first 10-Gigabit Ethernet connectivity to a blade.

Several other companies are part of IBM's announcement, which includes a Nortel 10G Ethernet switch from Blade Network Technologies and NetXen's 10G Ethernet expansion card. IBM said it has shipped more than two million one gigabit Ethernet ports to date.

Another first is a Cisco embedded switch designed to let customers deploy end-to-end Cisco intelligent SAN  services, such as Virtual Storage Area Networks (VSANs), advanced security and high availability.

The Cisco Embedded Fibre Channel Fabric Switch builds on an earlier IBM/Cisco collaboration to now include Fibre Channel, Ethernet and Infiniband options.

"Cisco and these other companies partner with other vendors like HP , Dell  and Sun , but I notice IBM seems to be consistently getting out in front with a six month lead," Joe Clabby, who heads Clabby Analytics, told internetnews.com. "Those other blade systems are good products, but IBM has the strongest ecosystem, everyone's jumping on it."

IBM is the founder and a primary sponsor of Blade.org, which promotes third party development of products of the blade platform developed by IBM and Intel . IBM  has the leading share of blade server revenue at 42 percent, followed by HP at 35 percent, according to the latest IDC figures.

"The 10G switch module is a breakthrough in many ways," Ishan Sehgal, program director for IBM BladeCenter, told internetnews.com. "Last year we announced 10G to the chassis, now for the first time we have 10G in the blade architecture. And instead of thousands of dollars, it costs $500 per port."

The Nortel 10G Ethernet Switch Module lists for $9,799 for 20 ports. A dual port NetXen 10G Ethernet Expansion card lists for $899 and the Cisco 4GB Fibre Channel Switch Module is $14,999 (20 ports) or $8,999 (10 ports). IBM also announced a Qlogic Ethernet Infiniband Module ($8,149) and Qlogic InfiniBand Fibre Channel Bridge Module ($9,799).

While IBM has attracted a range of customers, from Wall Street to oil exploration companies, to its blade systems, Sehgal said the performance improvements will help the company broaden its appeal.

"We're seeing interest in IPTV  and other areas where there are high bandwidth intensive applications," he said. He added that some IPTV providers are already testing the new 10G blade systems.

Looking ahead, IBM also announced the BladeCenter Address Manager, due out the second half of this year. IBM said Address Manager allows for the I/O virtualization  of Ethernet and Fibre Channel connections within a BladeCenter system.

Network or other IT personnel are given the option to assign Ethernet and Fibre Channel port addresses used by their server blades via software as an alternative to the addresses that are burned in to the hardware during manufacturing.

"It means that blades don't have to be manually reassigned, which saves a lot of time and increases efficiency," said Sehgal. "You'll be able to redeploy blades automatically for different workloads."

IBM said the BladeCenter Address Manager will support a variety of fabrics  from its partner companies.