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XIO tosses the dice one more time

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XIO on PCIe and VMware

Atkinson says that solid state has to get closer to the (server) bus. PCIe is a little clunky as a protocol compared to external SAS, which you could run across a PCIe link.

Stevenson said: "A PCIe bus is not a good networking protocol. SAS can run at 12Gbit/s."

Atkinson said: "There's going to be some serious disruption in this space. VMware, if it wanted, could stop pretending SSD is disk... you may not like where [VMware] is in storage but it's doing it." He added: "You can make an argument that hypervisor support is more important than O/S support these days."

Is XIO getting VAAI certification? "We just approved the requisition for VMware [partnership program] membership."

XIO timeline

  • August 2011 - Xiotech changes name to XIO in a rebranding exercise. Hybrid ISE becomes Hyper ISE. New funding, new marketing effort, with Tony Asaro contribution, focus on solution sales, boosting European operations with new EMEA VP Roger Walton. Total funding could be $80m.
  • June 2011 - Hybrid ISE arrives, offering Fusion-io levels of performance for up to fifth of the price. Marketing head Brian Reagan leaves after less than a year in post to go to IBM.
  • March 2011 - Continuous availability for ISE across campus and metro distances. Said to be looking for another $30m funding.
  • February 2011 – Emprise brand is abandoned as Xiotech bets the company on ISE. Previous Magnitude traditional style HDD arrays effectively dropped by now.
  • January 2011 - Hybrid ISE announced. Xiotech moves HQ from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, to Colorado Springs where ISE Development is based. Nearly 20 per cent year-on-year growth in ISE revenues in 2010. Supplies Windows Server-based NAS head for ISE.
  • November 2010 - head marketeer Mike Hoch replaced by Brian Reagan.
  • October 2010 - Alan Atkinson becomes CEO, replacing Casey Powell. Atkinson founded WysDM, a backup reporting company, and sold it to EMC.
  • August 2010 - $10m funding round plus $10m line of credit for product development. Claims more than 1,500 ISE units sold since launch.
  • April 2009 - spin-down capability added to Emprise ISE arrays. More than 1,100 Emprise arrays shipped in ten months since launch.
  • November 2007 - Seagate sells its Advanced Storage Architecture group, the ISE inventors, to Xiotech, with Seagate boss Steve Luczo leading investor group to loan Xiotech $40m to buy the operation.
  • November 2002 - Xiotech is spun off from Seagate. It sells Magnitude SAN storage array product.
  • November 2000 - Seagate buys Xiotech for $360m.
  • 1995 - Xiotech founded.

I think the move to solid state is the most significant shift for storage since the rise of networked storage.

Destination from here

Can XIO ride the server virtualisation wave and sell tens of thousands of ISE boxes with a accelerating applications focus against full-blooded storage array and pure flash hot box array competition? That is the question.

In evolutionary terms XIO has been a crustacean, confined to the sea shore and shallow seas. It can't swim and it can't fly. All it can do is scuttle along the seabed and seashore and hope it doesn't get picked off by a predator. Can it use server virtualisation, big data and the cloud to help it compete with the big boys?

From one point of view ISE looks really exciting, a new breed of storage combining the best of flash and hard disk drives and getting rid of their disadvantages. It should fly when disk gets stuck.

But from another viewpoint ISE looks like a a storage technology evolutionary dead-end. It hasn't been able go anywhere and isn't going anywhere. It is stuck in its own slow-moving mini-ISE age and that era looks like it is coming to its close. Exit XIO, so long ISE.

Which is it? Ah, if I knew that I'd be rich, and I'm not. Some say XIO is about to fly, others that it's going to tank. Let's hope it flies. It has unique kit which is fast and lasts and breaks the storage mould. Vive la difference! ®

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