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Topspin Uses InfiniBand to Drive On-demand Computing

While major vendors struggle to define their strategy for utility, on-demand or adaptive computing, one firm stands poised to benefit from their push to bring such methods to the fore: Topspin Communications.

The Mountain View, Calif. outfit, which specializes in interconnect fabrics that sew different layers of infrastructure together to power switch computing, Monday has added a hardware abstraction layer and programmable APIs to its switch platform.

The result? The company now has a programmable interconnect for creating grid computing architectures that are server, storage, and software agnostic. Simply, the technology doesn't discriminate between platforms. This is extremely valuable at a time when enterprises are reluctant to pick products that don't feature cross-platform functionality.

Because the interconnect clusters servers and maps data intelligence through a single switch, Topspin helps intensive applications such as databases scale up or down based on business requirements. This type of capability lies at the heart of on-demand computing, where vendors such as IBM , HP , Veritas and Computer Associates are looking to make their mark by provisioning resources per business needs to enable greater return-on-investment.

The new technology rounds out Topspin's Switched Computing Systems, which also consist of a fast InfiniBand-based switch for interconnecting volume servers into application clusters and a smart backplane for linking the clusters with their storage and networking resources through InfiniBand-to-Fibre Channel and InfiniBand-to-Ethernet gateways.

The Topspin switch uses externally defined policies to decide when and how to establish connections between server, storage, and networking resources required by each application. The switch shuffles application images from storage to server and links each server with the necessary amount of storage and network bandwidth. By automating the process of resource connection, Topspin's switch removes the most taxing aspect of the application provisioning process.

Oracle has worked closely with Topspin for the last year to enable scalable database clusters across InfiniBand.

"With additional ability to program connections through their switches, we believe Topspin's solution can provide a superb networking foundation for Oracle's grid architecture where computing and data resources are provisioned on the fly," said Benny Souder, vice president of Distributed Database Development, Oracle Corporation.

Vernon Turner, Group Vice President of Global Enterprise Server Solutions at IDC, credited Topspin as the first company that makes on-demand computing a reality with interconnect technologies.

"With standards-based technology compatible with all server, storage, and software resources, Topspin has positioned itself as a strong partner for any of the large system and application vendors looking to bring the on-demand computing vision to market," Turner said.

Topspin's new programmable interconnect technology will be on display at the Cluster World Conference and Expo in San Jose, Calif. this week through Thursday. Topspin will demonstrate how the Switched Computing System translates policies to map server, storage, and networking resources together on the fly.

Topsin also announced a partnership with blade server purveyor RLX Technologies. In the joint licensing and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) deal, Topspin will provide RLX with custom InfiniBand host channel adapters and software for RLX Blade Servers along with Topspin's InfiniBand switches, and InfiniBand-to-Ethernet and InfiniBand-to-Fibre Channel gateways for interconnecting RLX blade servers and their legacy LANs and SANs .

As has been the case to date with small vendors who make InfiniBand-based technologies, Topspin is gaining some momentum as a partner to larger vendors. The company was on hand at a meeting of the InfiniBand Trade Association in New York City last week to demonstrate its technology. In March, Topspin agreed to partner with Sun Microsystems to help that business craft Infiniband-based servers.