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.

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