Computacenter has agreed a formal tie-up with Xsigo Systems, a technology leader in I/O virtualisation.

The company, one of Europe’s largest providers of VMware server virtualisation software, said it chose US-based Xsigo as a partner because of its 'highly differentiated' I/O virtualisation product family.

With Xsigo as part of its portfolio, Computacenter claimed it will be able to help its clients reduce costs, react more quickly to change and improve their response time to user requests.

"Virtualisation offers organisations new opportunities to increase the efficiency and agility of their IT operations, but it can also place different demands on their datacentre infrastructure," said Terry Walby, Computacenter's director of datacentre solutions.

Introducing new servers usually means Fibre Channel (FC) host bus adapters (HBAs) for SAN traffic, and Ethernet cards for NAS traffic. But I/O virtualisation, or virtual I/O, changes that. It allows servers to connect to a multitude of different targets, irrespective of the protocol.

Xsigo has claimed its I/O virtualisation technology allows large datacentres to lower their server-related operational expenses by up to 80 percent, cut capital costs by 50 percent and use 70 percent less cabling. Server moves, adds and changes can be made in seconds, rather than hours or days, it added.

"Virtualisation in Europe is exploding but until now nearly all of the focus has centred on CPU and, to a lesser degree, overall storage virtualisation," said Tony Lock, programme director at Freeform Dynamics. "As customers are now beginning to find, issues with matters such as I/O virtualisation need to be addressed well if ‘virtualisation’ projects are to deliver maximum business benefits." Lock added that customers were looking for experienced suppliers to help design agile, robust and efficient virtualised systems.

"As more servers become virtualised, it only makes sense to virtualise the supporting I/O infrastructure," agreed Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures and investor in companies that contribute to green computing, including Xsigo Systems. "Newer virtualisation technologies such as virtual I/O, combined with 'green' best practices and management, will absolutely allow datacentre energy consumption growth to slow over the next few years."

Xsigo is one of several vendors pushing I/O virtualisation, including Cisco (with VFrame), HP (with Virtual Connect), and Voltaire (with GridVision). It said the deal gave it a good opportunity to expand into Europe with an equal partner, especially given Computacenter’s experience as a system integration and service provider for financial services, government, corporate and SME markets.

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