X-IO fights global hybrid warming, keeps ISE age going

Gen 3 overhaul and superfast new top end

X-IO has overhauled its hybrid ISE array line with third generation technology and given it a top-end ISE 780 model with boosted performance.

ISE (Integrated Storage Elements) are sealed 3U rack enclosures containing SSDs and Seagate disk drives with clever Seagate diagnostic software enabling drive failures that would cause replacement in other arrays to be recovered from so that the array carries on working and doesn’t need to be opened up. So much so that it has a five-year warranty.

ISE models 710, 720, 730 and 740 all have 1.6TB of flash, with 7.2, 14.4, 21.6, and 28.8TB respectively of 2.5-inch disk capacity, before RAID 5 or 10 schemes are applied. The new 780 has 28.8TB of disk, like the 740, but four times more flash than that box, at 6.4TB. This makes it faster, in the sense of supporting more IOPS, and hence more VMs in virtualised server environments.

Data can be pinned in flash if desired, making the ISE box an all-flash array for that data. Other data can be pinned in disk, or the system’s CADP data placement software can be used to move data in real time as required between flash and disk to optimise high-priority data access times.

Accessing servers can use 10GbitE as before and/or eight 8Gbits/s Fibre Channel (not 16Gbit/s). However 40GBitE access is now supported. The gen 3 ISE systems get thin provisioning and quality of service features added to the existing ReST Web Services API and optional active-active synchronous mirroring.

V3.1 of the ISE firmware version “provides more efficient management and control of storage resources with added iSCSI support for heterogeneous connectivity.” Bandwidth is up to 2GB/sec. The ISE Manager Suite 4.1 software include better dashboards and storage resource management.

Performance of the 780 at full capacity is described as up to 120,000 OLTP real-world IOPs. Other arrays, X-IO say, slow down once they reach 70 per cent capacity usage.

VMware integration features include vRealize Operations, VASA and vSphere Web Client, and there is an OpenStack cinder driver.

X-IO worldwide marketing veep Gavin McLaughlin’s canned quote about the gen 3 tech said it would “help customers resolve the three key challenges of storage: 100 per cent performance at 100 per cent capacity utilisation, reliability without operational overhead, and the industry’s leading balance of cost, capacity, performance and risk.”

The gen 3 ISE boxes offer, X-IO says, a 65 per cent performance improvement.

Basically we have a go-faster top-end ISE box with across the board improvements through new firmware and software; all good stuff which will help X-IO compete better against hybrid arrays from mainstream storage suppliers. These include upstarts like Nimble, Tegile and Tintri, and the revived NexGen, which launched its updated N5 range recently.

The hybrid array space is hotly contested and things like great supportability through instrumentation (Nimble) and VMware admin-focussed management (Tintri), and app-aware QoS (NexGen) mean that X-IO’s channel has to fight for every dollar, pushing its “lower total cost of ownership over five years” claim, and its “reliable performance as capacity fills” feature.

Bringing storage and compute closer together and being part of hyperconverged systems, like Nutanix and Simplivity, are two other marketing challenges McLaughlin and his team face. Global hybrid market warming is being seen as competitive pressures increase. Will X-IO's strengthened gen 3 line bring on an ISE age as McLaughlin hopes?

Gen 3 ISE 700 arrays are available now through X-IO’s channel. ®


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