Xsigo Would Seriously Up HP’s Game

By | December 8, 2011

I got pretty excited about SCSI Express the other week when I was at HP Discover in Vienna.

Well…. while there I had a quick Twitter exchange with Scott Lowe and Amnon Izhar about fabrics.  This is another topic that gets the old juices flowing.

Cisco UCS Kicking Some @rse

Not that long ago I recorded a podcast on the topic of Cisco UCS.  At the beginning of the podcast, Rick and I did a goofy intro making fun of former HP CEO Leo Apotheker’s apparent comment that if Cisco were selling UCS they must be selling it on planet Zircon, because HP weren’t coming up against it in the real world. 

Well…since then I know of loads of people taking up Cisco UCS, whether it be straight UCS or as part of a Vblock.  So it’s pretty clear that Cisco have really taken the game to HP in the compute market.  And clearly, in some people’s opinions, it has advantages over and above HP’s offerings.

Yes, UCS scores points on management, but they also score technical points too.  UCS has good tech.

HP have traditionally taken a steady approach to pushing server based technologies forward.  Things like Virtual Connect FlexFabric are ….. well….. OK.  Kind of average.  But with Cisco in this market, average won’t cut it any more!

Software

No doubt that HP has to improve their software.  Now that is a task that I do not envy.  If describing HP’s software I’d have to use words like clunky, bloated, slow, cumbersome, flaky…  Making significant strides in this area will be long a hard.  Good luck HP.

The Cool Stuff – Fabrics

It’s my opinion that HP need to up their game on the server technology front.  They need to be bolder and more innovative (even if via acquisition).  HP needs to get back to being best of breed and not rely on the fact that they are HP.

One way to do this, and at the same time take the game right back to Cisco, would be to buy Xsigo Systems.

NOTE: I am in no way suggesting HP are even remotely thinking of buying Xsigo – how the hell would I know! I'm just saying I think it's a cracking technology and they would make a cracking combo!

Xsigo’s Server Fabric would really cloud enable HP solutions and put them ahead of the 10Gbps curve, as well as simplify and add flexibility to HP solutions.  And all of this to an extent not possible with average technologies like VC FlexFabric.

One of the things I like about Xsigo solutions is similar to what VMware have been doing with vMotion technology.  VM movement operations (using the fs3dm datamover with hardware offload) can now be done within the storage controller without the data ever having travel up the stack from the array, through the fabric to the ESXi host and then back down again.  As a result not only are storage vMotions faster but the load is taken off the fabric and ESXi hosts.  It just makes good sense to do things this way!

Similarly, Xsigo allows us to do things in networking and server-to-server or VM-to-VM connectivity that just make sense.  Things like server to server traffic not having to travel up and over the network –

image

Now I’m no stupid, yes I expect the network guys to come out with their pitchforks and tell me how this doesn’t fit with their legacy backwards current models and I expect the network security card to be played.  But hey, the best technologies are always disruptive and force us to rethink the way we have traditionally done things.  And that’s only one of the advantages Xsigo brings.     

In a nutshell Xsigo would leapfrog HP servers past Cisco UCS (yes I think UCS is probably ahead o HP on a technology front right now).

What About A PCIe Fabric

So I like the idea of that and yes I know that the number of PCIe nodes deployed makes Ethernet look niche, but when I looked into this in the past (~2 years ago) PCIe wasn;t so scalable lacked a lot of networking capability and scalability.  Server fabrics dont necessarily have have all of the features of networks, but when I looked in to it back then I didn't feel that PCIe was a great fit.  Mental note: Go and revisit this.

Anyway, may be a blog and a podcast on Xsigo is required…

3 thoughts on “Xsigo Would Seriously Up HP’s Game

  1. john

    Nigel, well articulated. Xsigo's approach to the issues are to be fabric agnostic. They have both IB and Ethernet that support Virtual I/O. They seem to be the only real alternative to UCS.

  2. Cam Ford

    Hi Nigel,
    Cam (Xsigo) here.  Things are going to get really interesting real soon.  Cisco is slated to start shipping their UCS 2.0 including their new 8x10Gb CNA that runs in two 40G (4×10 LAG) connections into the new 2208 Fabric Extender….tying in to the new UP6248 Fabric Interconnect in up to 8x10Gb LAGs.  This will give Cisco 40G per server connection.
    Since HP, Dell, and IBM are all reliant on Emulex and Qlogic CNAs….they will not have any viable 40Gb solution for quite a while.  Xsigo will be the ONLY 40g (and even 56Gb) solution.  They will need us to compete with Cisco even more.

  3. Donny

    While I support the idea of integration between Xsigo and HP, I believe a better approach would be to make an I/O module for the C7000 chassis in partnership. I like the idea of a solution where the chassis can be linked by IB and utilize spare slots for the external I/O modules. This way, you retain the flexibility of the HP chassis while empowering next generation designs.

    Having worked with all three (Cisco UCS, HP BladeSystems, and Xsigo), each has their merit. Xsigo is the undisputed I/O performance and flexibility leader. HP is rock solid, proven, and cost effective. UCS provides leading edge configuration and management.

    HP does need to begin work on a more unified chassis management system.

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