The InfiniBand switch fabric doesn't work without management software. Unlike Ethernet, where an operational network can be assembled by simply plugging nodes into hubs or switches, InfiniBand requires setup and active monitoring. Fortunately, this critical management software is on hand, supplied by two vendors: Lane15 Software and Vieo.
InfiniBand isn't a simple switch fabric. Instead, it was designed to support a wide range of subsystem, intersystem, and network configurations. It incorporates channelized I/O and both network switching and routing. To handle that level of complexity, the InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA) has created an InfiniBand Architecture (IBA) standard that supports the switch-fabric environment.
Through Management Agents incorporated into every InfiniBand network node—Host Channel Adapters, Target Channel Adapters, and switch/router nodes—the IBA manages the switch fabric. From board-level details through subnet management, the node agents address a range of information and settings. The InfiniBand management software, which initializes, sets up, and monitors the active fabric nodes, supports the agents. This software runs on host computers and some subsystems.
Two companies dominate the InfiniBand management space: Lane15 Software and Vieo. Both deploy IBA management software. Although some larger InfiniBand vendors are implementing this software on their own, most are licensing it from these two vendors. Many designers are learning that creating InfiniBand management software isn't easy. Buying is proving better than building.
The initial releases of InfiniBand management software from Lane15 and Vieo target fabric management. They support the basic configuration necessary to get a network up and running. Future releases will offer ad-vanced management features.
One problem addressed by these releases is interoperability management, which means helping to integrate diverse components, subsystems, and systems. Acting as a foundation, these stable initial releases provide a critical base for InfiniBand expansion.
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