It has been a while since my last blog post, but just recently I read Steve Jobs, The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson…wow, talk about inspiration!
It made me think of what Emulex and IBM are doing together and the strategy we have of making great products greater by using innovative technology and simple design.
In 1974, Steve Jobs was a technician for Atari in Los Gatos, California where he undertook a project from Atari’s Allan Alcorn and Nolan Bushnell to build an arcade machine that had great design, slick performance and most importantly, was technically simple to build. In fact, Bushnell was so insistent that the Atari ‘Breakout’ arcade game should be technically efficient, he offered Steve a bonus of $8,000 if he could do it using 50 chips or less. At which point, Steve managed to persuade his friend Steve Wozniak to help, and four days later using just 45 chips, the ‘Breakout’ prototype was ready. This was one of several small projects that led Steve and ‘Woz’ to create Apple in 1976, and we all know how that turned out!
The ‘Think Different’ campaign was first launched by Apple in 1997. I have seen it before without really thinking about the slogan too much. The thing is, technology visionaries like Steve Jobs just see technology differently. In an age where Bill Gates and Microsoft were very much pushing open systems and the licensing model that eventually ensured Microsoft Windows was to become the world’s most successful operating system (OS), Steve was pushing a closed system. Conversely, Steve wanted to have tight integration between the hardware, software and even to the extent of controlling retail outlets to make sure the customers and users had the very best experience possible when using his products. Steve thought that this philosophy was critical to the success of Apple and there is no doubt that history has proven him right.
In recent years, IBM and Emulex have worked together to bring (in some small part, at least) these philosophies into our products and design mantras. Now I am not suggesting for a second that suddenly IBM has closed its systems for tighter integration of software and hardware. Indeed IBM is one of the leading vendors in the world when it comes to open standards. What I am trying to say is that, certainly from a networking standpoint, that IBM and Emulex are driving the next generation of server platforms including, IBM System x, IBM BladeCenter, IBM Flex Systems and IBM Power Systems that have simple network design and powerful functionality, which creates massive customer value.
IBM has made Emulex their I/O partner of choice because we offer technology that ensures competitive differentiation between IBM and its competitors. The Emulex Virtual Fabric Adapter (VFA) series of Ethernet products for IBM enable IBM customers to virtualize and converge their Ethernet and storage fabrics using virtual Network Interface Card (vNIC) technology, which in turn, reduces the amount of physical network adapters required when configuring a virtualized environment. In fact, technology provided by Emulex has such leadership when it comes to VFAs that IBM has selected technology provided by Emulex to be part of their LAN on motherboard (LOM) design (Steve no doubt would be pleased to hear of a smarter and more integrated solution). Consequently, making the default LOM Ethernet adapter in many of IBM’s latest products, such as IBM System x3750, IBM BladeCenter HS23, IBM Flex System x220 and x240 servers, a solution provided by Emulex, in addition to being widely available across standard NIC, modular LOM (MLOM) and CFFh adapters. Regardless of what form factor your customers choose, IBM uses the same chip ASIC provided by Emulex for all of these option cards, which means IBM customers have only one file of firmware and drivers they need to manage through one management interface, which ensures functionality, such as NIC teaming, becomes seamless, rather than fragmented when compared to other I/O vendors.
When configuring new solutions, additional considerations must now be made. With technology provided by Emulex being selected for the IBM 10Gb Ethernet (10GbE) LOM design, it means that customers are already using the Emulex management tool, OneCommand® Manager (which manages all Ethernet and Fibre Channel adapters provided by Emulex), which can be fully integrated into IBM Systems Director and VMware vCenter™ Server, it becomes harder to see why configuring another I/O vendor would add value? By selecting IBM Ethernet and Fibre Channel products provided by Emulex together, customers will benefit from one firmware and driver file, one management system and easy NIC teaming over one ASIC covering ALL IBM System x, IBM BladeCenter and IBM Flex System formats. To add another I/O vendor increases complexity, doubles the amount of management software required and makes complex networking configuration more difficult. So when contemplating new projects and considering network design, remember the future isn’t what it used to be but Emulex and IBM have simplified network design and made some great products. Design different, think different and WIN different with IBM and Emulex.