3Leaf Systems is among the new companies focusing on next-generation virtualization solutions for enterprise data centers. Today 3Leaf has an announcement of its Virtual Compute Environment (VCE), a fully virtualized data center infrastructure. The company's technology is interesting - its two-phase approach will allow companies to eventually virtualize memory, CPU, and I/O resources of standard X86 servers, providing the resulting resource pools with mainframe-like performance from commodity machines.
The strategy being announced today is not new, as virtually all components of 3Leaf's approach to virtualization - including the Virtual Compute Environment - were discussed at length in Computer Business Review and StorageMojo in May 2007.
What's new is the company's ability to discuss its ambitions with clear road maps for working with both AMD and Intel technologies. 3Leaf has licensed AMD's Coherent HyperTransport technology, and last week announced last week an agreement to license Intel's QuickPath Interconnect technology.
"We're expanding the boundary of a single physical machine to multiple machines," 3Leaf Senior Director of Marketing Rob Reiner said last week. "It's really a very disruptive technology."
3Leaf Systems first product is a V-8000 Virtual I/O Server, which is available now. Virtualized input/output technology replaces network interface cards (NICs) and host bus adapters (HBAs) with virtual network and storage interfaces, making a single network connection appear to be multiple virtual NICs or HBAs. One of the companies testing 3Leaf's I/O products has been managed hosting firm Savvis (SVVS). Competitors in this niche include Xsigo Systems.
The advantages of virtualization in server consolidation are well understood. I/O virtualization allows additional savings by using fewer cables and NICs. 3Leaf intends to further extend its virtualization capabilities with a CPU/Memory Server, in which a 3Leaf ASIC will plug into OEM servers. Reiner said the CPU/Memory server is expected to be available for AMD servers in 2009 and Intel technology in 2010.