Xsigo Systems, a data center technology startup backed by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has emerged from stealth with a product launch at VMWorld 2007. The company’s focus is data center I/O virtualization, which it says “dramatically reduces operational expense by changing the way that servers are connected to networks and storage.”
Khosla Ventures, Greylock Partners and Juniper Networks are also investors in Xsigo, which was founded in 2004 by former executives of Juniper and Cisco. The San Jose Mercury News said the VC firms’ investment was not disclosed, but “appears to be substantial,” based on the fact that Xsigo already has 100 employees.
On Monday Xsigo today announced itself with a press release about the Xsigo VP780 I/O Director, the product being introduced at VMWorld, which targets I/O (input/output) bottlenecks in data centers. I/O Director is a $30,000 appliance that the company says can save 50 percent to 80 percent on capital and operational costs in data center environments.
The Xsigo system replaces network interface cards (NICs) and host bus adapters (HBAs) with virtual network and storage interfaces. The Director appliance makes a single network connection appear to be multiple virtual NICs or HBAs. Xsigo says this virtualized I/O management provides a simpler, cheaper and more flexible way for servers and storage to connect and interact.
“Server I/O technologies have changed little in the past 20 years,” said Ashok Krishnamurthi, CEO of Xsigo Systems. “Virtualization technologies already deliver benefits to server and storage managers, but I/O management remains cumbersome and inefficient. The Xsigo I/O Director completes the vision of utility computing by allowing servers to be I/O-personality independent. This delivers a flexible approach to data center connectivity that lets IT managers easily re-deploy resources, increase utilization, and significantly cut costs.”
Xsigo is one of several Silicon Valley startups targeting I/O virtualization. Santa Clara-based 3Leaf Systems, launched in May with a virtual I/O server product. Last year Cisco Systems acquired Nuova Networks, a Santa Clara startup which is still in stealth mode but rumored to be developing similar technology.
Analysts and partners also expressed enthusiasm for Xsigo’s concept and products. Jay Keating, vice president of managed service delivery at managed hosting provider NaviSite, said Xsigo offers “breakthrough technology and fresh approach to server I/O architecture.”
“Today’s server I/O architecture significantly drives up cost and complexity in the data center,” said John Humphreys, program vice president of IDC’s Enterprise Virtualization research. “As virtualization is already changing server and storage best practices, it’s logical to extend this to I/O resources.”
“While blade server hardware and virtualization software enhance data center management, server I/O still limits agility,” said Dr. Bernard S. Meyerson, IBM Fellow, vice president of strategic alliances and CTO, IBM Systems and Technology Group. “I/O virtualization promises to deliver the next significant advancement. Just as server virtualization decouples applications from specific servers, virtual I/O will accelerate application management by removing the constraints of the fixed I/O infrastructure.”