Xsigo is one of the first companies with a real solution to network virtualization and Oracle has done an interesting move acquiring them to reinforce its hardware stack and, once again, it’s interesting to see that they are investing in HW despite the weak sales figures…

Oracle loving infiniband isn’t news (and I wholeheartedly agree with them: it’s a great technology). In the last year they launched many products that feature IB and they also have invested in leader companies of this market segment to maintain control grip on its future. Xsigo could be considered as the icing on the cake.

Who is Xsigo?

Xsigo was a pioneer of network virtualization with a product capable of bundling many different virtual channels (HBAs and NICs) into an Infiniband link. In fact the customer needs to buy an infiniband card for each server and connect them to a Xsigo Director to achieve a total abstraction of every storage and network connection. From a logic point of view, the product is very similar to what you can get now with converged ethernet (from vendors like CISCO o HP) but Xsigo does it on 40GBit/s low latency channels, and more elegantly.

The limited adoption of Xsigo products is due to the increasing interest pushing of converged ethernet: Companies like CISCO are bigger, ubiquitous and reputable in the DCs!
Technically speaking Xsigo is superior but it was relegated to a niche. Some time ago they tried to revitalize sales with an ethernet based product but I haven’t seen a huge interest in it…
Xsigo is very attractive for VMware customers but now things are set to change very fast.

Why Oracle?

It’s very hard to say that Oracle hardware is doing well (at least in terms of sales) and Oracle VM, their Xen based hypervisor, doesn’t shine (at least in terms of capabilities). On the other side, Infiniband is extensively used in many Oracle products (most of the EXAthings and high-end RAC reference architectures are using it) and Xsigo could become the glue to create a next generation “EXAbox” (for general purpose VMs too).

Actually, the ordinary EXA rack (full of x86 server), coupled with a Xsigo Director and Oracle VM, could become a sort of standard hardware for Oracle where you could dynamically deploy complex configurations in minutes. An hardware building block to deliver DB, Application and VMs elastically: In the Oracle way of thinking it will become a private cloud infrastructure offering for IaaS, and it could be the Oracle answer to the new modern infrastructure architectures shown by competition.

Bottom line

We can only wait and see what will happen in the future but I think that alternatives are limited to two: The first one is that Xsigo will remain the product that we know today, the other one is that Xsigo will melt inside the Oracle stack. Obviously the second is the most plausible and we can expect that Oracle will drop support for competing products like VMware almost immediately.