Blade Network Technologies Supporting 40 GbE Switches

New 40 Gigabit Ethernet switches debut as Nortel spinoff set to come under IBM's ownership.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Oct 14, 2010
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The move toward 40 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) networks is accelerating this week with the release of a new switching platform from Blade Network Technologies.

The new RackSwitch G8264 delivers up to 1.28 terabits of non-blocking throughput, and includes up to four 40 GbE ports and 64 10 GbE ports. The new Blade switch comes as the company is set to be acquired by IBM in a deal that is expected to close by the end of the year. Blade was set up in 2006 as a spinoff of the now-bankrupt Nortel Networks.

"40 GbE has been too pricey to bring into the data center, until now," Dan Tuchler, vice-president of strategy and product management at Blade told InternetNews.com. "This will enable massive adoption of not only 40 GbE, but also will help adoption of 10 GbE as well."

Tuchler explained that enterprises have been complaining that network uplinks at 10 GbE doesn't work if they are connecting all their servers at 10 GbE, as they need more upstream bandwidth. In response, Blade is incorporating four Quad Small Form-factor Pluggable (QFSP+) ports for 40 GbE uplinks on the RackSwitch G8264. The 40 GbE standard was ratified in June of this year alongside a 100 GbE standard for core network routing traffic.

Tuchler noted that while 40 GbE makes sense for the uplink side of switches, it doesn't yet have a place for server-side connectivity.

"I think that the server-side internal structures including the PCI bus aren't quite fast enough yet," he said. "The mainstream is using 10 GbE for servers now."

Virtualization

With the RackSwitch G8264, Blade is also delivering its VMready virtualization technology for virtual machine mobility across network infrastructure. With VMready, the company is delivering something similar to the IEEE 802.1Qbg Edge Virtual Bridging standard, which is still under development.

"The main intent behind the 802.1Qbg is to allow virtual machine traffic to have the right port profiles follow virtual machines as they move across the network," Tuchler said. "VMready has a structure that is very similar to what is emerging in 802.1Qbg."

Tuchler explained that VMready is complementary to what VMware does today with its vMotion virtual server mobility technology.

"VMready is the network equivalent of vMotion," Tuchler said. "So as vMotion moves virtual machines from one server to another, we do the network equivalent and move all the port policies across, so when the virtual machine comes up on a new server it has all the right security and network settings, so the application keeps working."

Linux-powered OS

Sitting underneath the RackSwitch G8264 is the Blade OS operating system, which has its roots in Linux. Blade is not alone in using Linux as the underlying base for its networking operating system. Alcatel-Lucent, for instance, recently moved its AOS operating system to a Linux base as well.

With IBM's move to acquire Blade set to close by the end of the year, Tuchler was unable to comment about any roadmap changes that might occur, though he stressed that the two companies already share a lot in common.

"IBM's view and Blade's view of the data center are similar and there is a lot of alignment in what we see as the challenges in the data center," he said. "That was probably a driving reason behind the acquisition, anything more than that I can't comment until after the close."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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