X-IO: Zero Maintenance, Low Latency VDI Storage

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At VMworld Barcelona, I was invited by Stephen Foskett to join the #TFDx event (short for Tech Field Day Extra). I’m writing about X-IO because their presentation actually triggered me. They handle a lot of things very differently. And as you can read below, I like how they do that.

First, some info about X-IO

X-IO Technologies, was previously founded as the Seagate Advanced Storage Group in 2002. Which was later acquired by Xiotech in 2007, and today operates independently as X-IO Technologies. They are located in Colorado Springs, in the same building where the company was originally founded in back in 2002.

Today I was told,  X-IO Technologies has more than 1,200 customers worldwide using over 6,000 first-, and second-generation ISE Arrays.

Intelligent Storage Element (ISE)

imageThe X-IO array is based on ISE software which itself is based on a Linux microkernel running on each Controller.  Every X-IO is based on a 3U chassis with two MRC IO controllers and two DataPacs (more about this below) on a SAS backplane capable of supporting up to 40 disks.

X-IO ISEThe ISE is engineered from the ground up to be highly available and to support high availability configurations and architectures.

It’s very interesting how X-IO improves performance of Seagate rotating drives
X-IO is getting 400-600IOPS per spinning disk with pushing special firmware on the Seagate disks. They are a seagate company after all…

20 fixed disk into a “DataPac”

imageThe DataPac act as multi-spindle “superdrives” that the ISE can treat as a single storage unit. ISEs use 100% of the performance and capacity of each storage medium within the DataPac in unique and sophisticated ways to contribute to the performance and capacity of the superdrive as required by the performance and capacity rating of the ISE.

One of the best features must be the self healing mechanism. X-IO ISE storage systems repair, and restore, failed media, rather than requiring drive replacements and other service events: a unique capability of the ISE’s design and implementation, made possible by a combination of hardware, firmware and software features within the ISE.

Using patented software technology, every drive in an ISE can be taken into repair mode, power-cycled, and remanufactured just as it would be if it were RMA’d to the drive’s supplier — all while the ISE continues to operate at full performance and full capacity. Amazing stuff.

A Single (Hybrid) DataPac in the ISE730 includes for example 15x900GB 10k SAS disks and 5x200Gb MLC SAS. The Total of 2 DataPacs “SuperDrive” contains around 21.6Tb of Capacity (includes 1.6Tb Flash for Acceleration and includes 30% of Spare Capacity). This leaved around 15,6Tb of Raid10 Capacity to use.

ISE 700 Series Models



imageInstead of using batteries, the ISE uses super capacitors located in the front of the unit. These super capacitors store sufficient power to guarantee orderly shutdown of the unit in the event of a power loss with no cache corruption or data loss.

Super capacitors do not harm the environment, and are not susceptible to degradation like lead-acid batteries, and will last for the life of the ISE without the need for replacement.

VMware Intergration

X-IO currently has great VMware integration including vCenter, Web Client and vCOPS plugins.

Tech Field Day Extra

I strongly recommend you watch the >videos recorded during Storage Field Day 5 and the videos recorded during TFDx at VMworld Europe. They are very educational and give a clear idea of the features of this product.

Disclaimer: I was invited to this meeting by Gestalt IT. I have not been compensated for my time and I was not obliged to blog about this product.