11-15-2010 12:01 PM
It was an interesting coincidence that EMC announced the acquistion of Isilon on the same day we announced the industry's first Ethernet fabric switch, the Brocade VDX Data Center Switch with Brocade VCS technology. Now, I've been interested in cluster technology since I worked for Qualix Group back in the mid 1990's (since acquired by EMC who continues to offer their products). Server clustering opened the door to economic scale-out of computing using low-cost hardware platforms. Later, I noted to some colleagues of mine that this idea was applicable to storage scale-out since storage controllers (the brains of storage arrays) are computers optimized to act as a gateway between a SCSI bus (the outside) and the internal IO bus (the inside). You could scale up IO and get great HA for storage if you applied clustering techniques to the storage controller.
Later, after I got involved in Fibre Channel networks, I noticed an interesting company in my backyard (I live in metro-Denver, CO), LeftHand Networks, in Boulder, CO, since acquired by HP. I had an opportunity to talk with them and learned they had developed that earlier notion of mine into a product and built a company around it. I, of course, hadn't done anything more than think about it and have idle conversations with some friends. Hmm, not the path to success :-)
So, it struck me today that now we have a very interesting confluence of clustering technology with implementations that span compute, storage and, with today's announcement of the Brocade VDX family of products, the network too. One of the valuable contributions of VCS technology is the adaptation of cluster scale-out to Ethernet networks. We summarize that value when we talk about how VCS technology combines Distributed Intelligence in the control plane with Logical Chassis management. That means cluster members (VDX switches) can join and leave the cluster seamlessly and HA is ensured since multiple active paths are always available and automatically optimized so traffic takes the shortest path.
Now, my idle speculation is that as partners of ours, such as EMC, pursue their future goals of delivering "big data" via the Greenplum acquisition and scale-out clustered file systems with the Isilon acquisition, they will very quickly include VDX Data Center Switches with VCS technology in their blue prints. You can hear Pat Gellsinger,President and Chief Operating Officer for Information Infrastructure Products at EMC talk about the future in this video