Voltaire unveils 10 Gig Ethernet switch


Voltaire Ltd. announced its Vantage 6048 Ethernet switch, designed for enterprise and service provider data centres running VMware Inc.’s virtual machine software.


Scheduled to ship in October, the Chelmsford, Mass.-based Voltaire is selling the Vantage 6048 partly on the basis of price, because the hardware will cost less than US$500 per port, said Asaf Somekh, Voltaire’s vice-president of marketing.


Voltaire made its announcement at VMware’s annual VMWorld conference and exhibition in San Francisco and is aiming the Vantage 6048 at enterprises and managed service providers running cloud computing applications.


“We see virtualization driving 10 Gigabit Ethernet adoption in data centres and service providers,” Somekh said in an interview.


Virtualization is designed to increase server utilization and therefore increases each server’s input/output level, Somekh added. The switch complies with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)’s 802.1Qau standard for congestion notification.



Voltaire, whose research and development centre is in Israel, has about 200 employees. Its products are sold mainly by Hewlett Packard Development Co. LP and IBM Corp. Voltaire had about “US$50 million in revenues last year and originally specialized in products meeting the Infiniband data centre networking standard.


“We went to 10 Gig Ethernet to expand our markets,” Somekh said. “Infiniband is very strong in niches that exist today. One of them is financial services.”


Another, he added is for organizations with large supercomputers running storage and application traffic across their networks.


“People looking for low latency bandwidth go to Infiniband,” he said. “If they are less stringent they go to 10 Gig Ethernet.”


A software product Voltaire sells separately, known as Unified Fabric Managers, or UFM, is designed to manage the switches in a data centre as one virtual switch.


It can work with VMWare’s vmotion technology, which lets administrators migrate applications between virtual machines while users are working.
Zeus Kerravala, distinguished research fellow at Yankee Group Research Inc., said the Voltaire Vantage 6048 appears to be a good product but he added both Cisco Systems Inc. and Hewlett Packard Development Co. LP are also making network equipment for vmotion.

“I didn’t see anything in there that differentiates it from all the other vendors going after that market right now,”

Kerravala said.


Somekh said some switches on the market that work in virtual environments require administrators to manually enter networking policies into each switch.


“If you created a networking policy around the virtual machines, such as quality of service, all of that needs to be reconfigured and manually re-entered once you move that virtual machine,” he said.


“You end up with an environment where you have many switches, each one managed in a different way,” he said. UFM essentially virtualizes the entire fabric as a single resource.”


Administrators can use either a command line interface or graphic user interface to enter data once, Somekh said. He added UFM can manage switches from other manufacturers such as HP, Blade Networks and Cisco Systems Inc.


San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco unveiled its own switch for vMotion, dubbed Nexus 1000V, at VMworld in 2008. With VN-Link, the Cisco Nexus 1000V is designed to make it easier to manage virtual environments.


For its part, Voltaire claimed the Vantage 6048 will be attractive because its power use is 6.3 Watts per port.


Also at VMWorld, VMWare announced the VCloud Director software for cloud computing applications.







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