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Tech veep denies Xiotech ISE controller strategy change

'It's certainly possible'

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Comment Rob Peglar, Xiotech's VP for technology, took issue with some aspects of the story about the ISE NAS Controller Node.

He told the Reg:

The basic clarification is this: ISE NAS today is exactly the same strategy as it was back in April.  We have changed high-stack technology, from Symantec Filestore to Windows 2008 Storage Server, true.  However, your statement about ‘FC block access’ is misleading.

We do indeed offer FC block access as part of ISE NAS – without question, it’s a unified storage offering – but the FC traffic does not pass through the NAS head.  It goes directly to ISE.  The NAS head does support iSCSI target, but that is a software target (as part of Storage Server) and the actual block I/O is FC, from the head to the ISE.

Overall, the head does adhere to our philosophy of providing high-stack function in efficient engines – riding the CPU wave as it were – and low-stack, highly optimised, highly efficient, high-performance storage function in the ISE.

As for the Emprise line, that continues in the form of the Emprise 9000 – you do know about that, right?  The article only referenced the 7000, which is ISE-based (of course) but does not offer the wide portfolio of high-stack function that the 9000 does.  The 9000 is an interesting machine because like its brother ISE NAS, it too provides FC block function, but in two ways; either through the 9000 head itself, or directly from server to ISE.  Both are allowed, which is a unique method compared to other enterprise storage arrays which force all FC traffic through the controllers.

You wished for an upscale 7000 – the 9000 is it. 8Gbit/s, 4 or 8 ports per controller, clustered controllers up to 12 (sold in pairs), 96 ISEs behind it, 10Gb Ethernet iSCSI, and on and on.  A truly enterprise-class machine, unlike the 7000, which ventures up into the high mid-tier but not beyond, as it is limited to two controllers.

We had covered the Emprise 9000 when it was introduced. I thought Rob's note explained a lot and it got me thinking.

My general understanding about Xiotech's storage controller thinking is in line with Rob's but has an added couple of aspects. One is/was that Xiotech had no real interest in building and supplying software and hardware to run upper stack storage management functions, which would execute in server hardware not supplied by Xiotech and which would be physically separate from the storage array enclosures, the ISEs. Software such as Symantec's File Store would provide the functionality to do that work and it could run in any vanilla X86 controller with sufficient horsepower.

Peglar said about this:

This is mostly correct. However, Xiotech did indeed supply the actual hardware, because customers prefer it that way. They wanted a solution, so we packaged FileStore on a server (Dell or HP, customers’ choice). If the customer wanted to run FileStore on their own x86 hardware, they could, but they would procure FileStore from Symantec directly in that case, and run it with ISE.

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