The unified fabric virtualizes I/O so that rather than requiring each server to be
equipped with a set of physical I/O interfaces to separate network functions, all I/O
in the system is carried over a single set of cables and sent to separate physical
networks at the system’s fabric interconnects as necessary. For example, storage
traffic destined for Fibre Channel storage systems is carried in the system using
FCoE. At the fabric interconnects, storage-access traffic can transition to physical
Fibre Channel networks through a Fibre Channel transceiver installed in one or more
of the fabric interconnect’s unified ports.

I/O is further virtualized through the use of separate virtual network links for
each class and each flow of traffic. For example, management, storage-access,
and IP network traffic emanating from a server is carried to the system’s fabric
interconnects with the same level of secure isolation as if it were carried over
separate physical cables. These virtual network links originate within the server’s
converged network adapters and terminate at virtual ports within the system’s fabric
interconnects.

These virtual links are managed exactly as if they were physical networks. The
only characteristic that distinguishes physical from virtual networks within the
fabric interconnects is the naming of the ports. This approach has a multitude of
benefits: changing the way that servers are configured makes servers flexible,
adaptable resources that can be configured through software to meet any workload
requirement at any time. Servers are no longer tied to a specific function for
their lifetime because of their physical configuration. Physical configurations are
adaptable through software settings. The concept of virtual network links brings
immense power and flexibility to support almost any workload requirement through
flexible network configurations that bring complete visibility and control for both
physical servers and virtual machines.