Blade Pushes Virtual Networks With UFA Roadmap

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Blade Network Technologies says its Unified Fabric Architecture UFA beats Cisco’s UCS with an open messaging structure

Data centre network maker Blade Network Technologies has pitched its roadmap to a Unified Fabric Architecture today, saying it is more open and flexible than Cisco’s Unified Computing System.

Blade’s UFA – a roadmap rather than a product announcement – relies on a messaging structure that supports virtualised servers in a data centre on a virtualised network. In an interview in January with eWEEK Europe, Blade CEO Vikram Mehta said the new architecture would be low-cost and open to multi-vendor equipement, not requiring the user to adopt any one vendor’s servers or dommit to any one virtualisation technology.

Blade posted record results in 2009, reaching the number three position for 10-Gigabit Ethernet, and Mehta points out that it gained share against Cisco in the data centre, where Cisco’s UCS announcement was supposed to strengthen the network giant’s presence:

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“Three messages I have heard constantly from customers…are: ‘I don’t like the idea of vendor lock in’, ‘I’m worried about cost of ownership – acquisition, operations, and upkeep’, and ‘I don’t like the idea of rip-and-replace as I lose all my previous investment’.” says Mehta on his blog.

“Today’s enterprise data centre is pursuing dual yet potentially conflicting goals to unify their server, storage and networking environment and to avoid tying their fortunes to a single vendor,” said John Abbott, chief analyst, The 451 Group. “Blade’s Unified Fabric Architecture provides an independent network platform that enables the enterprise data centre to achieve unification without vendor lock-in.

“Enterprise data centres worldwide are actively upgrading to 10-Gigabit Ethernet and implementing I/O virtualisation for servers and storage but are concerned about preserving their existing IT investments,” said Philip Dawson, vice president of analyst firm Gartner. “A unified IP network fabric can serve to ensure that the data centre network can deliver maximum business value and flexibility.”

UFA includes BLADEOS, a data centre fabric OS, with “VMready” virtualisation extensions. and the ability to converge LAN and SAN management networks. It includes server control software, and fabric element management software.

The roadmap includes new silicon ASICs to make more efficient networks, and improvements to server provisioning, as well as greater reliability, and an eventual move to 40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet.