Case Study: VirtuDataCenter Taps Mellanox InfiniBand for Breakthrough in Cloud Computing Services

By Motti Beck (Profile)
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Thursday, February 17th 2011
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In 2005, North Carolina Research Triangle Park-based technology wizard/architect Mickey Mazarick had a problem.

His client, a Fortune 500 biotechnology company, was looking for a way to deploy and support a website building and hosting service targeted to veterinarians.  Mickey, or “Mic” as he is known, could not find an alternative that would address the technology and budget requirements.

So, he began to build one from scratch and put in place the foundation for what would become cloud computing company, VirtuDataCenter (VDC).  Realizing that he needed a seasoned manager to lead the company, Mic turned to his father Mike Mazarick, a former Nortel executive, who took the reins as CEO.  Together, the father-son team set out to build a company and platform that would transform how data center resources are shared and delivered.

VDC addresses critical performance, security and automation issues for deploying private clouds, or virtual data centers.  The company uses InfiniBand from Mellanox, in conjunction with virtualization technology and the Gluster open source file system, to provide a parallel, fault tolerant solution that puts the power of cloud computing in the hands of the customer.

VDC automates the process of setting up virtual data centers, whether remote or on-premises, transforming a manual and painstaking task into an almost effortless one.  With VDC, it is possible to deploy over 1250 private data centers a day.  InfiniBand provides the reliable high speed networking backbone that makes it extremely easy to allocate and provide access to storage and computing resources.

Solving a Complex Problem through Innovative Architecture

When the biotech company asked Mic for help in 2005, he knew that the job would not be easy.  Part of the challenge was that each veterinarian website required a custom configuration.  Moreover, changes needed to be dynamically applied for the 4500 veterinarian practices without taking down individual sites.

With an eye towards the larger market opportunity beyond this one customer, the father-son team Mike and Mic Mazarick, considered how to address the challenges before them with a solution that would also set their tiny startup apart from what was becoming a crowded cloud market.

The Mazaricks realized that automating the process of setting up and maintaining virtual data centers would put VDC ahead of the pack.  They strived to simplify how storage is provisioned, and network resources allocated and accessed.  Through trial and error, the team developed a cloud platform which would become VDC.

Solution Components

A key challenge was to determine which networking technology would help VDC meet its objectives.

Mic started with GigE and iSCSI, but it quickly became clear that either of the choices would be a management hassle.

“I did not want to spend my life carving up storage,” said Mic. “The other approaches force you to slow the network down or bring it to a halt when adding capacity.  It is important to be able to scale storage in a linear fashion.  InfiniBand was a key piece to solving the puzzle."

InfiniBand provided the scalable high speed connectivity that helped to avoid bottlenecks and meet the asynchronous demands of dispersed and diverse cloud users.