Neterion has made a splash at VMworld in Cannes, France, this\n week, debuting a technology to solve one of virtualization's\n biggest practical problems\u2014the I\/O bottleneck. \n\n I\/O-intensive applications such as SQL databases and\n Microsoft Exchange servers demand so much of a physical\n server's CPU and memory that if you run the apps on a physical\n box with other VMs, you'll see a slowdown in overall\n performance. But Neterion had developed a line of 10GB\n Ethernet adapters for servers that provides 17 independent I\/O\n paths right in the adapter's silicon. This means the various\n VMs and applications won't have to fight for one swath of I\/O\n bandwidth as they do today. Additional I\/O bandwidth can be\n routed to applications when needed, with IT groups able to set\n quality of service (QoS) levels for different applications and\n borrow bandwidth when necessary, Neterion President Dave\n Zabrowski told CIO in a preannouncement briefing earlier this\n month.The new 10GB Ethernet adapters, the X3100 Series, will show\n up in servers in the second half of 2008, Zabrowski says. The\n marketing lingo will be that the server has a "virtualized NIC\n (network interface card)" or "VNIC," he says.The new technology should make a big difference for IT\n groups that want to run resource-hungry applications on VMs,\n analysts say."It's about running multiple bandwidth-intensive\n applications as a virtual machine on a single physical server,"\n says Mark Bowker, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group.\n "Without the I\/O throughput, it is difficult to justify moving\n [a bandwidth-hungry application] to a virtual machine, and the\n business will be better off leaving it running on a physical\n server but will not be able to see the benefits of\n virtualization\u2014high availability, built-in disaster\n recovery, mobility."The Neterion technology could also help IT groups improve\n consolidation rates and lower their VMware licensing costs,\n says Nik Simpson, a senior analyst with the Burton Group. "It's\n not just about I\/O-hungry applications," Simpson says. "By\n virtualizing the NIC in hardware rather than through the\n hypervisor, you get a number of benefits."These benefits include the ability to manage QoS; the\n ability to consolidate more VMs per physical host (because less\n processing power is wasted going back and forth between the\n hypervisor and the VM when processing I\/O); and improved\n management. One example: "Each virtual NIC fully mimics the\n behavior and features of a physical NIC: It has its own MAC\n address; it can be reset without affecting other virtual NICS,"\n Simpson says. A shared NIC should also translate to lower\n licensing costs, particularly for the hypervisor, Simpson\n says.The I\/O bottleneck issue has posed a significant roadblock\n to IT teams such as the one at logistics services company\n Transplace, where CTO Vincent Biddlecombe recently told CIO.com that he's running all of\n the company's significant applications on virtual machines\n except the Microsoft Exchange server and SQL\n databases\u2014those applications are so I\/O\n intensive. Similarly, the I\/O bottleneck is one reason that\n many IT groups have shied away from running SAP applications, often among the most\n mission-critical at enterprises, on VMs.A slew of startup vendors, such as CiRBA and Akorri, have\n also tackled the resource-balancing problem with new\n virtualization management tools in the past year. (See\n "Ten Virtualization Vendors to Watch".) No wonder: In CIO's recent survey on enterprise use of virtualization, 64\n percent of IT leaders called balancing server workloads and\n maintaining application service levels their top challenge\n to virtualization success. IT leaders cited this as the\n biggest headache by far.Neterion has also been playing a part in an emerging\n industry-standard, called SR-IOV 1.0 (Single-Root I\/O\n Virtualization), that came out of a PCI-SIG workgroup. Neterion's new\n 10GB Ethernet adapters, which work with all the major OSes,\n hypervisors and server architectures, are among the first\n products to ship that will adhere to that standard, Zabrowski\n says.