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XIOtech rolls out new storage features for Exchange

In an effort to support the storage management features in Windows Server 2003 and lessen the time it takes to recover data, XIOtech is working with major backup vendors to roll out new management packages for its Magnitude 3D storage array.

In an effort to support the storage management features in Windows Server 2003 and lessen the time it takes to recover data, XIOtech Corp. is working with major backup vendors to roll out new management packages for its Magnitude 3D storage array.

Eden Prairie, Minn.-based XIOtech has added a new Fast Restore for Exchange package to its Magnitude 3D SAN. It's also offering a hardware provider for Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), support for Microsoft Virtual Disk Service (VDS) and Multipath I/O (MPIO) technology.

The company has added Microsoft support by packaging backup software from CommVault, Oceanport, N.J., with Magnitude 3D's Dynamic Virtual Linking capability. The result is a SAN that can restore data faster than before, according to XIOtech.

In addition to Fast Restore for Exchange, XIOtech announced availability of a hardware provider for VSS and support for VDS and MPIO, a move designed for users of Windows Server 2003. XIOtech said the hardware provider for VSS enables customers to make point-in-time copies of data without having to schedule downtime. Support for VDS enables the automation and delivery of storage management. Finally, support for MPIO within a clustered storage architecture delivers a high-availability server and storage configuration, the company said.

XIOtech's new features will make the company the first hardware provider whose arrays have been certified to run the VDS and VSS features of Windows Server 2003. Microsoft also happens to be XIOtech's largest paying customer; the software giant has more than 300 TB of Magnitude storage installed in 14 of the biggest labs on its Redmond, Wash., campus.

"We're rolling out our Fast Restore program based on the Fast Restore feature for Microsoft Exchange because it's really not backup that is the issue. It's the restore time," said Mike Gluck, XIOtech's executive vice president of sales. "We're rolling these solutions out with virtually all of the backup vendors, starting with CommVault this quarter."

He said that similar solutions for Computer Associates International Inc. and Veritas Software Corp. would follow later this year.

Enterprise Storage Group analyst Steve Kenniston said XIOtech's new features add snapshots that are fully integrated with Exchange so that no "agents" for applications are needed.

He added that while the XIOtech had multiple controllers with access to much of the information in the storage network, MPIO allows them to use host software that can take advantage of additional controllers in one system providing a more granular layer of failover.

The attempt to complement Microsoft's advancements in the area of storage management software won't stop any time soon. XIOtech said Fast Restore for Exchange and support for VSS, VDS and multi-pathing are the first steps on the Redmond path. Alain Andreoli, CEO of XIOtech, said his company is committed to developing more hardware and software that will let users "take the fullest advantage of their investment in Microsoft Exchange and Windows Server 2003."

XIOtech introduced the Magnitude 3D last year. The product is based on the company's Dimensional Storage Clustering Architecture. According to experts, dynamic provisioning and storage clustering help fulfill XIOtech's goal for its systems: no planned or unplanned downtime. The 3D has been described as a solid midtier system for storage shops that change their configurations frequently.

XIOtech's clustered storage architecture can replace a chassis-based SANs with distributed controllers and a virtual storage pool. Users can mix and match drive types, logical units of processing (LUNs), and heterogeneous servers in the pool. As storage requirements expand, capacity, control and performance can be scaled or added incrementally.

The clustered architecture features modular components, including controllers, drive bays and control platforms, which are deployed as independent modules across distributed networks. Magnitude 3D also enables intra-controller and cross-cluster storage failover, without requiring any host software, and it offers automated provisioning and application driven, on-the-fly event response.

The Magnitude 3D comes in a 2-node version, but it will be able to scale to 16 nodes later this year.

Storage practice director Ron Lovell of Greenwich Technology Partners said that XIOtech's products are niche solutions that get a lot of play in the development and support lab environments.

"This is because of its excellent in-box storage management capabilities. Additionally, they continue to create more integration points with partners, increasing XIOtech's viability," Lovell said.

He said XIOtech is a strong player in the mid- and low-end storage tiers and that the company is striving to move into the high end. The company will likely have a better chance of success if it expands out of its current niche and doesn't compete in the high-end space, keeping its storage offerings ahead of the curve on functionality and price, and working toward enabling the utility data center with improved application integration. In addition, the company's expanding integration with key technology partners such as Oracle Corp. and Microsoft is a positive as well, he said.

A gaggle of gear makers jumped on the Microsoft bandwagon last September, when Windows Storage Server 2003 was officially launched.

OEM storage products that were announced included the Dell PowerVault 775N and 770N storage systems, the HP StorageWorks NAS 2000s, the Iomega NAS P400m series and Inline's FileStorm systems, as well as MaXXan Systems' SG110m NAS gateway appliance and SG210m application card. EMC's NetWin 200 will also be based on Windows Storage Server 2003.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Kevin Komiega, News Editor.

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