Cloud enablement

Xsigo Follows Southwest's Route

Xsigo Systems Inc. announced a smaller version of its I/O Director today, targeting the way data centers are starting to model Southwest Airlines.

No, it doesn't have anything to do with limiting in-flight food to small bags of peanuts (although that's more food than you get on many flights these days). It has to do with the cookie-cutter approach some companies are taking toward their data centers.

With data centers expanding to accommodate cloud computing, it was a short step for enterprises to start fitting servers into prefab, wire-once racks. Each rack represents one generic chunk of computing capability that can be deployed quickly.

"It's kind of the Southwest model for the data center," says Jon Toor, Xsigo's vice president of marketing, referring to the fact that Southwest uses one model of plane and, until recently, sold only one type of ticket.

I/O Director was designed to sit at the end of a row of racks. By shrinking the design to just two rack units tall, Xsigo is making it feasible to give a prefab computing rack (also called a pod) an I/O Director of its own.

The smaller version is called the VP560 I/O Director, and Xsigo announced VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) as a customer.

Xsigo, founded by veterans of Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), sells an I/O go-between box that lets servers tackle different tasks, changing personalities on the fly depending on what kind of capability is needed. The idea is to lower the amount of time a server spends sitting idle, waiting for someone to request one type of job. (See Xsigo Gets Real, Gets Virtual.)

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) have started offering the same idea, but Xsigo distances itself from those two by noting that it's built an open platform, one that's not wedded to a particular data-center architecture.

Xsigo has sold mostly into the enterprise, claiming 65 deployments in that market, but it's also attracting service providers -- "some of the big two- and three-letter names in the business," Toor says. In those cases, Xsigo is being used as part of a managed-services or infrastructure-outsourcing offering.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:36:42 PM
re: Xsigo Follows Southwest's Route

Not that Cisco and HP are pushovers, but Xsigo does have a point about offering this kind of virtualization without vendor lock-in.  A lot is going to depend on how successful the all-in-one data center offerings (like Cisco's UCS) are. 

It's also going to be interesting to see how long it takes before someone provides an open competitor to I/O Director.


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