The next step in Grid computing
- By John K. Waters
Many of the large system vendors like to describe grid computing as a kind of Lego-style building block model for the data center that allows organizations to mix and match servers, storage, applications, and I/O. That’s an analogy that works for TopSpin Communications, says the company’s marketing VP, Stu Aaron. 'Think of TopSpin as the flat green piece that you build your Lego cities on top of,' he says.
TopSpin, based in Mountain View, Calif., may be best known as one of the chief proponents of the InfiniBand switched I/O architecture. The company builds programmable server switches, which provide a high-performance fabric (that flat green piece) for connecting servers and other resources to a grid. 'It allows you to effectively map or cross-connect the right resources at the right time to build virtual servers out of the individual pools of CPU processor, I/O, and storage resources,' Aaron tells eADT.
TopSpin sees its flagship programmable server switch as the natural next step in the evolution of data center infrastructure, which began with Cisco's network switch in the 1980s, and was followed by SANs pioneered by Brocade in the `90s.
'Cisco's network switch was all about connecting shared network resources, and then allowing clients to have access to those resources,' Aaron explains. 'Brocade came on the scene with this concept of pulling storage out of the server, [and] aggregating storage on SANs.'
In the new millennium, Aaron says, the focus is less on the network or the storage, and more on how to interconnect large quantities of commodity servers and server processes into a grid, or flexible fabric.
Enter the server switch, which is designed to allow discreet interconnected servers to perform like monolithic servers, without paying a performance penalty, while also providing 'seamless and virtualized connectivity among those servers, their I/O, and storage resources,' Aaron says.
The company recently rolled out a special bundle of InfiniBand server switches, InfiniBand host adapters, and VFrame server provisioning and management software, designed to help promote the adoption of grid computing.
Called, Grid-to-Go, the new package is based on open standards and is designed for rapid, easy deployment of utility computing in the enterprise. The company says it can be used with commodity servers, and includes all of the infrastructure and software required for a grid architecture that unifies applications, servers, and storage.
'It's a kind of grid computing starter kit,' Aaron says. 'It’s everything you need to build a utility computing solution, except for the servers and the storage, which you connect the kit too.'
The Grid-to-Go package comes in full-rack and half-rack
versions. The Grid-to-Go program runs through December 2004. For more
information, see www.topspin.com.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached