Xiotech bulks up ISE self-healing storage systems

Xiotech rolls out larger ISE 9000 self-healing storage system to manage a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and new management apps based on CorteX API.

Next week, Xiotech Corp. will make the first major expansion to its Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) self-healing storage systems platform since it launched it more than two years ago. Xiotech will roll out the ISE 9000 with a larger and more advanced controller, and add new management and analytics applications.

Xiotech executives say the new enhancements will improve performance for organizations implementing a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

The ISE 9000 includes two models -- Enterprise and Standard -- and represents performance and capacity improvements over the ISE 7000 that has been on the market since 2008. The ISE 9000 supports thin provisioning, 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, 255 TB storage volumes, IP- and Fibre Channel-based asynchronous replication (the ISE 7000 supports only Fibre Channel-based asynch replication), as well as optimized data tiering. The ISE 900 Enterprise scales from two to 12 controllers in a system and can manage 1.8 PB, while the largest ISE 7000 version scales to 1 PB.

The ISE 9000 Enterprise has eight 8 Gbps Fibre Channel and four Ethernet or 10 GigEthernet iSCSI hosts standard, with the option for another four Fibre Channel and four iSCSI interfaces optional. It also supports 4,096 server connections and has a maximum cache of 96 GB. The ISE 9000 Enterprise Standard scales to 57.6 TB, 1,024 server connections and 3 GB cache. The host interfaces and maximum volumes are the same for both systems.

Xiotech chief marketing officer Brian Reagan said the dual-controller ISE 7000 Enterprise, single-controller ISE Emprise 7000 Edge and DAS ISE Emprise 5000 systems will stay on the market. Like the other ISE models, the ISE 9000 does not yet support solid-state drive (SSD) technology, but Reagan said the vendor will have an SSD announcement within a few months.

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Reagan maintains that the ISE architecture with its self-healing capabilities make it a good fit to run virtual desktops, and the 9000 delivers more I/O to improve VDI performance.

"As centralized infrastructures are built to address VDI, you have a lot of I/O being pushed down," he said. "When you push that workload into a disk pool, you add unpredictability to that work load. You have a boot storm followed by an anti-virus storm, followed by an I'm-opening-Outlook storm. It's a highly unpredictable and dynamic set of I/O patterns."

Reagan continued: "You end up with a heavy storage infrastructure for those types of I/O. Traditional storage means dealing with refrigerator-sized arrays stacked with SSDs and spending lot of money on storage. ISE lets you create a dense and linearly scalable I/O footprint in 3U, and you can keep adding 3U chunks into your rack and scale out."

Each ISE includes two sealed DataPacs with redundant power and cooling. The sealed architecture reduces heat and vibration to improve reliability of the disk, and automatically provides remedial component repair when a failure occurs. Xiotech also guarantees five years of zero service events under its ISE warranty.

Mark Peters, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, agreed that VDI will stress storage systems, and said Xiotech's best-selling point to deal with VDI is the reliability of its self-healing bricks.

"I think they have value to add with VDI," he said. "The attractions to VDI are obvious, but there are underlying storage issues to address. You're literally putting all your eggs in one basket when it comes to storage. So while people need a lot of performance, the big issue is reliability. If your storage doesn't work, you can't fire up anybody's desktop."

Management applications based on CorteX API

Xiotech is also unveiling ISE Manager and ISE Analyzer applications developed by Xiotech with its CorteX API.

ISE Manager allows administrators to provision storage and deploy capacity, and shows real-time performance statistics in a Windows-like dashboard. It can manage VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix Xen hypervisors from one interface. Eric Lomascolo, Xiotech's director of product management, said ISE Manager lets customers manage ISE blades as one or more clouds instead of individually. "Now you can build multiple clouds across locations with a single point of management for all ISE devices across the enterprise," Lomascolo said.

ISE Analyzer gives trending and analysis reports on statistics such as performance and capacity utilization, letting admins map them to applications to enable chargeback. ISE Analyzer is available as an on-premise application or as a service through Xiotech's customer portal.

Pricing for ISE Analyzer starts at $15,921; ISE Manager costs $1,666.67 per ISE.

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