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Xiotech CorteX RESTful Web service lets systems control ISE platform

With its RESTful-based API, Xiotech CorteX looks to give applications, OSes and hypervisors more control over the storage stack for its Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) platform.

Xiotech Inc. is making its CorteX Web service-based API available to developers, allowing other systems to control its Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) storage platform in hopes of making applications run better and attracting more enterprise customers.

CorteX, which covers volume management, as well as storage configuration, status and performance, is a RESTful Web service that uses HTTP and REST and runs directly on ISE, replacing Xiotech's more complicated previous-generation SOAP-based API.

Brian Reagan, Xiotech's senior vice president of marketing and business development, said CorteX lets applications understand what storage resources are available and automates control of the resources. It follows Xiotech's Virtualization Performance Pack released in March that adds management support for hypervisors from Citrix Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to previous support of VMware as part of the vendor's strategy of improving application performance on its storage.

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"Applications run the business, and we want to help applications run better," Reagan said. "Applications like Oracle are getting very sophisticated, so helping applications run better is a key part of our strategy."

Specifically, it's a key part of Xiotech's strategy to attract more large enterprise customers. While APIs are usually aimed at software vendors, Reagan said the big benefit of Xiotech's API will be that resellers and even customers can take advantage for customized applications. He maintains organizations such as financial services firms would just as soon create their own applications than buy commercial applications.

"Several large end-user customers are writing to the API," he said. "They've rolled their own managed applications, and can snap ISE via our Restful API into their management framework."

Xiotech's Emprise 5000 and Emprise 7000 are built on ISE and are self-contained self-healing bricks. Xiotech recently discontinued the Magnitude legacy SAN platform to concentrate on the ISE systems.

Analysts say CorteX is designed to help software vendors take more control of the storage stack. Wikibon analyst David Vellante points to Oracle's Exadata and Microsoft's collaboration with Hewlett-Packard on appliances to run Exchange as other examples of this.

"This is of course antithetical to the traditional SAN guys who are trying to push the benefits of shared infrastructure -- which are real -- in terms of utilization across the application portfolio," Vellante wrote in an email to "Xiotech is taking this element-based storage approach that plays into the ISV/application stack approach. So we're talking about function such as recovery, copy services, etc. -- traditional function that's been moved to the storage network -- now moving back to the host."

Mark Peters, a senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), agrees that Xiotech is willing to give up more control of storage than array vendors have traditionally been willing to cede.

"It comes down to who controls the storage," Peters said. "Most companies will say 'us,' and Xiotech tech says it doesn't have to be us, it's better if it's not us. It's all about where the control lies. Do controllers control storage, or do apps, operating systems and hypervisors control storage? I don't suspect the world will change overnight, but there is logic to what they have.

"All the big vendors are talking about pooling resources in one way or another, using OSes and virtual control to mix and match the right resources for the right application at right time," he added. "These larger shifts at play seem to support what Xiotech's doing."

Peters said he expects the API to be used much more by application vendors than actual users, though.

"It's nice to give that flexibility, but I'm not sure people are looking for 'do-it-yourself,'" he said.

How much will CorteX help Xiotech? The analysts said Xiotech's overall success depends on how well it markets its platform under its new CEO Alan Atkinson.

"Traditional Xiotech customers love the product because it's so simple," Wikibon's Vellante wrote. "But they have to connect to the broader industry if they have any chance of really exploding."

ESG's Peters added that Xiotech has been around longer than rivals such as 3PAR and Compellent Technologies Inc., which have eclipsed Xiotech to become public companies. "Good technology is never enough in this business," he said. "You have to have a clear story. Xiotech is getting clear around its intelligent application storage story, but they'll have to stick with it and develop it."

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