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Xiotech reloads Matrix

ISEbergs warning

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Matrix

It hopes that Matrix will provide that push. The company is talking to various non-IT stack-aligned vendors about participating in Matrix. McDonald isn't identifying any, but we might imagine Ocarina (dedupe) and Caringo (CAS) are the kinds of vendors he has in mind. The Matrix controller will sit outside the Matrix storage resource containers and provision/de-provision them as needed by the storage-controlling app in the servers.

It doesn't exist yet and will need software and interfaces. We might hear formally about Matrix, see a v1.0 release of some sort, by the mid-year point. The Cortex API, used by storage system resource functions to talk direct to ISE as a control path, with Matrix being a data path, will have a v1.0 announcement this quarter.

Matrix is a very channel-friendly idea, "Isn't it!" says McDonald. On the OEM channel front Xiotech is still immensely keen to recruit OEMs to take its ISE boxes. McDonald says it's energetically talking to prospective OEMs, again not identifying any.

ISE Roadmap

The ISE boxes themselves have their own roadmap but flash doesn't figure on it, yet. There is still no justification, in McDonald's view, for adding flash. It's just too expensive and has hideous read:write assymetry as well as endurance problems. When it gets cheap enough and these issues can be overcome, then we might see a flash ISE.

What's likely to come first is an ISE front-end interface change. Currently an ISE box has two 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel ports. Ethernet is very likely to be added in its 10GBit form, but Xiotech is undecided about whether to offer iSCSI or FCoE layered on top of it.

The drives inside ISE may become 6Gbit/s SAS ones and the drive-ISE controller fabric may change from 4Gbit/s FC to a SAS one as well.

The message is that ISE boxes can be aggregated together in an ISEberg or JBOI (just a bunch of ISEs) and controlled by mid-tier storage resource applications like dedupe, CAS, replication, whatever, and/or by direct storage-controlling server apps like VMware, Exchange 2010 and Oracle. Bypass expensive and complex storage arrays, with fat controllers and high-maintenance disk drives that lose performance as they fill, by using collections of superdisks, ISE boxes, under the direct control of server apps. That's the Xiotech mesage in a nutshell.

Will it fly? Will ISE boxes invade more data centres? It's the big question and the Xiotech team is using its $10m funding to make sure that data centre owners at least understand the ISE and Matrix eco-system message and ask themselves: "Could we? Should we?" ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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