Electronic Design

Interoperability Issues



Multivendor environments Initial InfiniBand networks may be built from the products of a single vendor, but the long-term goal is transparent interoperability. To accomplish this goal, products must work together at the physical, the data-transport, and the management layers.
Multimanagement environments Large InfiniBand networks can be managed from a single tool and console. Multiple tools and consoles are more likely to be required, though. Established organizations will also have network management that requires integration with InfiniBand.
Network scalability Large InfiniBand networks have been simulated but not built. Large installations will only be possible when substantial hardware becomes available, at which point real management and interoperability testing will be possible.
Management across different subnets The InfiniBand multiple subnet management specification is being refined. The details aren't as specific or robust as the InfiniBand single subnet specification. Initially, multiple subnet networks will be rare.
Inconsistent implementations Any new technology will hit this problem, but management support will be critical because the network won't operate correctly if it can't be properly set up. Management and monitoring are still necessary after configuration.
Optional features The InfiniBand specification includes a number of optional features, which management tools may or may not require. The issue is more complex in a multivendor environment where options are vendor-dependent.
Vendor value-added features Handling vendor-specific features can be problematic using management tools from a different vendor.
Problems with early-release products Products based on new technology typically have some problems. Most InfiniBand products will be reconfigurable, enabling the correction of problems. But isolating these problems in a larger network could be difficult.
Compliance versus interoperability testing Compliance-testing methods are specified for InfiniBand testing but not interoperability testing. The industry has sponsored many interoperability events. Still, a more formal system would ensure better interoperability among different products.
Master SM negotiation and handover The InfiniBand specification indicates how the master subnet manager is chosen. In practice, though, the results may be less than optimal given a mix of operating-system and management application implementations.
Multivendor SMAs Proper subnet management agent (SMA) operation is critical to the operation of an InfiniBand network. SMAs must be able to work with different SMA implementations in a multivendor network that will be common even in small environments.
Service name resolution The InfiniBand service name to node/port resolution can be performed using multiple mechanisms. A centralized naming system like DNS, which is used on IP networks, is needed to support multiple vendor-management tools. Otherwise the information must be duplicated, or else some tools might end up with limited named access to parts of a subnet.


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