Freshly-minted virtualisation startup 3Leaf Systems has emerged from 'stealth mode' with its first data centre server product.

The V-8000 Virtual I/O Server virtualises I/O subsystems for existing servers and, claimed the company, makes them more available and resilient while reducing both capital and maintenance costs.

Essentially, it removes the need for local networking and storage. Instead, The V-8000 consolidates each server's network and storage interfaces and replaces them with a single 10Gb/sec fault-tolerant fabric. This means the servers in a data centre connect via the V-8000, which allows data centre managers to remove many of the connections to the network and storage infrastructures and saves money, said the company.

It claimed that capital expenditure savings from deploying the V-8000 can exceed 50 percent, and operational savings can approach 60 percent.

The V-8000 uses commodity hardware that allows for easy customisation with off-the-shelf interfaces, reckoned 3Leaf. The system can be configured anywhere from 4-18 Ethernet ports at 1Gb/sec and/or 0-14 Fibre Channel ports at 4Gb/sec.

The V-8000 allows I/O resources to be allocated using quality of service parameters, which delivers limits and guarantees to both networking and storage interfaces. This allows service levels to change with application demand and so improves I/O resource utilisation while prioritising applications as required.

And because the V-8000 allows servers to be defined in advance, spare nodes can have new profiles applied in a matter of minutes rather than weeks or months, reckoned the company.

The server also increases overall resilience, said 3Leaf, because the number of components is lowered, including local discs, network and storage adapters, and switch ports so there's less to go wrong. Also you need fewer software drivers, translating into lower downtime. And in the event of hardware failure, the V-8000 can fail over to a redundant V-8000. The V-8000 has built-in redundancy for storage and networking, with the ability to automatically discover redundant storage paths and bond together redundant networking paths, said the company.

It's unclear whether 3Leaf has yet set up UK outlets for its products - Silicon Valley start-ups such as this one traditionally focus on the USA for the first year or two - but if you were to press greenbacks into their hands, they'd probably be receptive.

With this launch, the company propels itself into a server market in which IBM, HP and Sun between them own most of it. However, 3Leaf's CEO Bob Quinn reckons his systems, which cost some $100,000 a pair, complement rather than compete with products from the dominant players.


The company is emerging shortly after start-up company Fabric 7, which also aimed to innovate in the server market, has had its funding pulled and closed down after allegedly losing its backers $57 million. Given that venture capital, like the rest of the financial establishment, follows trends, 3Leaf has an uphill struggle ahead.

"Traditional scale-out server architectures, when installed and managed on a large scale, have a very high total cost of ownership, due to the physical complexities of configuring and connecting so many servers and the amount of time required for initial provisioning and reprovisioning," said Mike Kahn, managing director of The Clipper Group, technology acquisition consultants. "3Leaf Systems' Virtual Compute Environment changes all of that while also improving the scalability, effective capacity, and availability of the underlying servers. Their approach makes a lot of sense."

“3Leaf’s value proposition immediately resonates with enterprise companies that are looking for ways to effectively deal with the headaches of server deployment, increasing costs while still at very low utilisation levels, and the complexities of managing all of their computing resources,” said Bob Quinn, CEO, 3Leaf Systems. “We anticipate continued company growth and increased product demand based on the market drivers for a solution such as ours, and the significant customer traction we have gained in a short period of time.”