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Xiotech throws blocks at hypervisors

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Xiotech has got an IAS architecture to embed its storage building blocks better in virtual server environments with snazzy VirtualView automated storage provisioning and management software.

IAS stands for Integrated Application Storage, and the base pitch is that existing controller-based storage is too complex. Storage should be pretty much invisible to applications and just do its job at the behest of server O/S or virtualisation software. Xiotech says it wants to move its storage towards this and away from the general storage notion of technically complex controllers.

It has ESG senior analyst Mark Peters singing off this hymn sheet, saying: "With its architecture Xiotech ... is saying clearly that applications rule, and that the role of storage is – in essence – to be as invisible as possible."

IAS has three legs, the first being Xiotech's ISE (Intelligent Storage Element) sealed drive canisters with their 5-year warranty. The second is ICON Manager V4.0, its management platform, and the third is its CorteX RESTful Web services-based API.

ICON 4.0 provides management for both Emprise 5000 and 7000 ISE-based storage systems. Admin staff can now manage one or many Emprise 5000 systems as a single cloud entity or as multiple clouds. A cloud is user-definable and may be in a single datacenter or distributed across multiple sites.

Xiotech says you can think of ISEs as storage blades without the blade chassis. Buy an Emprise 5000 storage blade and ICON 4.0 will discover it and make it available to apps.

ICON 4.0 has extended the existing VirtualView software to add mixed hypervisor support and integration for Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V, and VMware vSphere 4. It uses the CorteX API to integrate to the hypervisors and enable the provision of storage to VMs much more simply, Xiotech claims, than before.

For example, it says, in VMware storage is provisioned at three places - in the storage array where physical disk becomes logical disks, in the ESX server which addresses storage as LUNs (Logical UNits), and in the virtual machine (VM) layer where a portion of the ESX storage is assigned as virtual disks to VMs.

Xiotech claims VirtualView provides a single global view of allocated storage across these three layers and provisions it in a few clicks from one console instead of requiring dozens of clicks from three separate consoles. Admin staff use wizards in the Windows environment to specify a few things like name, drive letter and storage amount, and VirtualView automatically has the ISEs provision the storage, using the CorteX API.

Developers will have access to CorteX so they can tell the ISEs to do things for their apps.

Xiotech has also devised a Virtualisation Performance Pack which uses IAS and contains an amount of ISE storage, ICON Manager, Virtual View, Citrix Essentials storage management for Citrix and Hyper-V environments through Citrix Storage Link, and VMware storage management for disaster recovery through VMware’s vCenter Site Recovery Manager.

The company has also given us a glimpse of aspects of its hardware roadmap. Its Technology VP Rob Peglar wrote: "We use 2.5-inch FC now, and will use 2.5-inch SAS in the future, following Seagate as it implements its drive technology." He reckons 15K RPM 2.5-inch SAS drives are being developed and "Further out, you will see 900GB and beyond per 2.5-inch drive, as bit density improves".

So far there is no information about availability beyond CorteX being available this quarter. White papers in pdf form about aspects of Xiotech's IAS initiative can be found here. ®

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