Mellanox Virtual Protocol Interconnect® Creates the Ideal Gateway

Mellanox Virtual Protocol Interconnect® Creates the Ideal Gateway Between
InfiniBand and Ethernet
term viability of a company’s data center.
In today’s computing environment, it is critical
for companies to get the most possible out
of their networks: the highest performance,
the most storage, seamless data transfers,
maximum bandwidth, and the lowest latency.
To remain static is to fall behind. Only by
taking advantage of the latest advances in
technology is it possible to maintain market
supremacy or to gain on the competition.
Mellanox now offers the latest technology
both for providing its customers with the
best available interconnect and for ensuring
scalability affordably. Virtual Protocol
Interconnect® (VPI) allows any port within a
switch to run either InfiniBand or Ethernet,
and to alternate between the two protocols
as necessary. This creates a perfect gateway
out-of-the-box, enabling integration between
InfiniBand and Ethernet fabric and clusters.
One area in which data centers can realize
this need for optimum network performance
is in their interconnect. Whether connecting
clustered database servers, native file
storage, clouds of virtual machines, or any
combination thereof, high speed compute
over InfiniBand enables increased throughput
in less time with lower latency and with less
need for CPU involvement.
However, it is also important that any solution
be scalable, providing future-proofing by
enabling growth whenever necessary without
breaking the bank. The ability to add nodes
to further increase compute capacity without
sacrificing performance is crucial to the long-
Figure 1. Virtual Protocol Interconnect from Mellanox
©2014 Mellanox Technologies. All rights reserved.
Mellanox VPI offers both port flexibility and
financial flexibility. Instead of pay-as-you-grow,
you can adapt ports as needed to allow for
growth. Moreover, Mellanox VPI provides all
the benefits of InfiniBand while maintaining
easy connectivity via the existing Ethernet
Gateway to Network Management
Recently, Mellanox successfully deployed
its VPI solution for two different customers
from two different market segments and
addressing two different needs.
Mellanox VPI
provides all the
benefits of InfiniBand
while maintaining
easy connectivity via
the existing Ethernet
CASE STUDY: Mellanox Virtual Protocol Interconnect Creates the Ideal Gateway Between InfiniBand and Ethernet
One recent Mellanox VPI gateway deployment occurred
with PensionsFirst, a leading solution provider to the
global defined benefit pensions industry. PensionsFirst
hosts its customers on a multitenant Microsoft-based
private cloud architecture that uses Mellanox RDMAenabled InfiniBand and Ethernet interconnects to
provide a high-performance and cost effective solution
that scales easily.
At PensionsFirst, InfiniBand was an overwhelming
choice for its cloud computing platform, as it offered
suitable performance and bandwidth to allow proper
network convergence. 10 GbE was not considered
scalable enough for client, storage, and backup traffic
combined, and by using RDMA, PensionsFirst gained
strong VM scalability for its private cloud, enabling faster
data analytics and a better return on investment.
However, since PensionsFirst uses multiple data centers
to create its private cloud, and since its client base
accesses the cloud via IP traffic, PensionsFirst required
an Ethernet solution above and beyond its InfiniBand
network. Furthermore, as most network management
software still interfaces via Ethernet, PensionsFirst
needed the ability to combine InfiniBand and Ethernet
architectures within its network.
Mellanox VPI provided a gateway for PensionsFirst to
rely on InfiniBand between its compute, storage, and
Virtualization layers but to interconnect with its network
management plane and external client IP traffic via
Ethernet (Figure 2). This provided PensionsFirst with
a flexible mixed fabric, yet without any associated
performance penalty.
“By using Mellanox’s innovative and cost effective
interconnect solutions, PensionsFirst was able to
converge all of its data communications into a single,
protected and cost-effective fabric,” said Nick Francis,
CTO at PensionsFirst. “We are thrilled with the
performance and flexibility that RDMA affords us, and
it’s a superb platform to underpin our private cloud
Gateway to Storage
A second VPI deployment was with the Joint
Supercomputer Center (JSCC) of the Russian Academy
of Sciences, one of the top 100 most powerful
computer centers in the world with a current peak
performance of 523.8 teraflops.
JSCC uses a pure InfiniBand network for its highperformance computing, and decided to use a Mellanox
VPI SX6036 switch to maintain InfiniBand connectivity
with the compute cluster while establishing Ethernet
connectivity to its Netapp storage (Figure 3). The vast
majority of storage interfaces use 10GbE to connect
to compute clusters, but by using Mellanox VPI as a
gateway to its storage, JSCC was able to seamlessly
mix its fabric to maintain its InfiniBand network while
accessing its storage via Ethernet.
Figure 2. Mellanox’s VPI Gateway connects PensionsFirst’s InfiniBand compute, storage and Virtualization layers with its Ethernet
network management plane and external client IP traffic
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CASE STUDY: Mellanox Virtual Protocol Interconnect Creates the Ideal Gateway Between InfiniBand and Ethernet
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Figure 3. Mellanox’s VPI Gateway connects JSCC’s InfiniBand high performance compute cluster to its Ethernet NetApp storage
“Mellanox’s unique gateway platform enabled us to
interconnect our Ethernet-based storage to a fast
InfiniBand scientific compute center,” said Boris
Shabanov, Deputy Director, JSCC of RAS. “The use of
the Mellanox gateway eliminated the need for additional
infrastructure, saved money, and improved our network
JSCC now plans to increase its Ethernet bandwidth
to add to its storage capability by moving more 10GbE
links to its storage cluster, which can be accomplished
without adding any further infrastructure simply by
allocating additional ports on the VPI SX6036 switch that
is serving as the gateway.
Mellanox VPI offers all the benefits of a scalable
InfiniBand data center with the ease of Ethernet
connectivity to network management or storage. This
allows a network to scale its existing infrastructure
instead of paying for additional hardware as it grows,
and it offers the most flexibility in allocating ports for
the ideal architecture to meet networking requirements.
Most of all, this is achievable with no performance
penalty whatsoever, as Mellanox ensures the highest
bandwidth and lowest latency in both its InfiniBand and
Ethernet offerings.
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© Copyright 2014 Mellanox Technologies. All rights reserved.
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