Santa for sysadmins: I/O, shake it all about

Question: What does every IT network administrator or sysadmin want for Christmas apart from a nasal hair trimmer and a local pizza shop gift card?


Answer: A new network interface card (NIC) that does more than just add ports to a server but also offers access to additional processing power and ‘on-circuit-board’ capabilities capable of offloading a variety of application functions directly onto the card itself.

Emulex Corporation is hoping it may be capable of playing Santa for sysadmins.

The network connectivity firm has now proffers forth gifts from lands afar including its ExpressConfig products to help optimise I/O connectivity for cloud, hyperscale and enterprise environments.

Pardon me? Hyperscale environments?

The term hyperscale computing is generally used to describe any huge/humongous/hefty (hence: hyper) – scale computing environment where distributed processing, compute and storage elements are coalesced such that workload levels can be amplified/enlarged/augmented (hence: scaled) when needed — basically, it’s often another way of talking about cloud.

Emulex says that by providing architecture, components, features, analysis, configuration settings and software drivers, its ExpresConfig technology can extract “the most value” out of a pre-designed integrated system.

I/O optimised

According to Emulex, the ExpressConfig solutions improve I/O optimisation through the use of bespoke firmware that works on I/O-intensive services to partition and use some of the multicore CPU architecture on the card to execute specific application services, rather than tying up main system CPU cycles – without compromising the remaining cores that are driving the card’s port handling.

This is potentially critical (or, useful at least) in cloud environments where maximum capacity utilisation is critical and where speed of I/O response is equally important for customer satisfaction and maintaing SLAs.

ExpressConfig for OpenStack core networks provides a blueprint using the firm’s own I/O connectivity capabilities for:

  • allocating bandwidth,
  • converging multiple protocols,
  • isolating OpenStack core networks or applications and,
  • efficiently managing the multiple networks typically associated with large-scale datacentres.

“Emulex sees OpenStack as an I/O development platform that allows us to provide workload optimisation services, orchestration management tools and engineered solutions that are ready to deploy for new hyperscale data centres and public or private cloud environments,” said Shaun Walsh, senior vice president of marketing, Emulex.

“The Emulex ExpressConfig Solutions leverage industry-leading Emulex Universal Multi-Channel™ (UMC) Network Interface Card (NIC) partitioning with the open ecosystem of tools available in the OpenStack community to deliver on the growing demands for flexibility, scalability and lower operating costs.”

Today, OpenStack users can use Emulex UMC NIC partitioning to optimise bandwidth allocation between the necessary public, private, storage and management networks.

Emulex UMC can ensure minimum bandwidth allocations are maintained, eliminating the potential for tunnel networks to be inadvertently starved by external traffic. For smaller configurations, those safeguards also prevent performance imbalances, enabling the shared use of hardware so the compute and storage nodes can reside on the same server.

Image credit: rocketcomplex