N-Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) is a key feature of Emulex’s LightPulse Virtual HBA technology, that enables each Fibre Channel HBA to register multiple “virtual ports”, identified by Worldwide Ports Names (WWPN) with the fabric. These virtual ports can then be assigned each virtual machine, restoring individual fabric registration (see Figure 3). NPIV is part of the Fibre Channel protocol standard published by the ANSI T11 committee and implemented by leading fabric switch vendors as part of their standard offering. The first vendor to provide NPIV Fibre Channel support as part of its standard product, Emulex provides an NPIV implementation that conforms to the T11 standard and readily interoperates with existing fabric switches, transparently to storage devices.
By restoring virtual machine level SAN connectivity, NPIV enables administrators to manage storage on behalf of the virtual machine in much the same way they manage storage attached to physical machines, leveraging familiar best practices and existing SAN management tools. This provides users with essential capabilities to optimize, scale up and protect their virtualized environment:
c Optimization of storage connectivity to the need of the individual application or line of business, is provided by WWPN-based fabric quality of service and zoning tools offered by fabric switch vendors, as well as storage masking, mapping or quality (drive speed, mirroring, etc) provided by storage array vendors.
c Advanced provisioning, with seamless SAN reattachment of migrated workloads, and possible server and storage pre-provisioning.
c Compliance with corporate storage processes and utilization of corporate storage tools and skillsets.
c Enhanced incident resilience upon loss of server, storage or HBA resources, or upon resource overload.
N-Port ID virtualization is built into Emulex LightPulse 4Gb/s host bus adapters, with driver and user interface support announced or planned for all major operating systems.