Xiotech's Low Cost RAID brick
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Storage Networking World conference is over, and the buzz from the analysts appears to be focused onXiotech's low-cost RAID brick (LCRB) called Intelligent Storage Element, or ISE.
(Full disclosure: I work for IBM, not Xiotech, in case there weren't enough IBM references on this blog page to remindyou of that. I am writing this piece entirely from publicly available sources of information, and notfrom any internal working relationships between IBM and Xiotech. Xiotech is a member of the IBM BladeCenteralliance and our two companies collaborate together in that regard.)
Fellow blogger Jon Toigo in his DrunkenData blog posted [I’m Humming “ISE ISE Baby” this Week] and then a follow-up post[ISE Launches]. I looked up Xiotech's SPC-1benchmark numbers for the Emprise 5000 with both 73GB and 146GB drives, and at 8,202 IOPS per TB, does not seem to be as fast as IBM SAN VolumeControllers 11,354 IOPS per TB. Xiotech offers an impressive 5 year warranty (by comparison, IBM offers up to 4 years, and EMC I think is stillonly 90 days).Jon also wrote a review in [Enterprise Systems]that goes into more detail about the ISE.
Fellow blogger Robin Harris in his StorageMojo blog posted [SNW update - Xiotech’s ISE and the dilithium solution], feeling that Xiotech should win the "Best Announcement at SNW" prize. He points to the cool video on the[Xiotech website]. In that video, they claim 91,000 IOPS.Given that it took forty(40) 73GB drives (or 4 datapacs) in the previous example to get 8,202 IOPS for 1TB usable, I am guessing the 91,000 IOPS is probably 44 datapacs (440 drives) glommed together, representing 11TB usable.The ISE design appears very similar to the "data modules" used in IBM's XIV Nextra system.
Fellow blogger Mark Twomey from EMC in his StorageZilla blog posted[Xiotech: Industry second]correctly points out that Xiotech's 520-byte block (512 bytes plus extra for added integrity) was not the firstin the industry. Mark explains that EMC CLARiiON had this since the early 1990's, and implies in the title that this must have been the first in the industry, making Xiotech an industry second. Sorry Mark, both EMC and Xiotech were late to the game. IBM had been using 520-byte blocksize on its disk since 1980 with the System/38. This system morphed to the AS/400, and the blocksize was bumped up to 522 bytes in 1990, and is now called the System i, where the blocksize was bumped up yet again to 528 bytes in 2007.
While IBM was clever to do this, it actually means fewer choices for our System i clients, being only able to chooseexternal disk systems that explicitly support these non-standard blocksize values, such as the IBM System Storage DS8000and DS6000 series. (Yes, BarryB, IBM still sells the DS6000!) The DS6000 was specifically designed with the System i and smaller System z mainframes in mind, and in that niche does very well. Fortunately, as I mentioned in my February post [Getting off the island - the new i5/OS V6R1], IBM has now used virtualization, in the form of the VIOS logical partition, to allow i5/OS systems to attach to standard 512-byte block devices, greatly expanding the storage choices for our clients.
(Side note: SNW happens twice per year, so the challenge is having something new and fresh to talk about each time. While Andy Monshaw, General Manager of IBM System Storage, highlighted some of the many emerging technologies in his keynote address, IBM shipped on many of them prior to his last appearance in October 2007: thin provisioning in the IBM System Storage N series, deduplication in the IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS) feature, and Solid State Disk (SSD) drives in the IBM BladeCenter HS21-XM models. Of course, not everyone buys IBM gear the first day it is available, and IBM is not the only vendor to offer these technologies. My point is that for many people, these are still not yet deployed in their own data center, and so they are still in the future for them. However, since these IBM deliveries happened more than six months ago, they're old news in the eyes of the SNW attendees. While those who follow IBM closely would know that, others like[Britney Spears] may not.)
Back in the 1990s, when IBM was developing the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), we generically called the managed disk arrays that were being virtualized by the SVC as "low-cost RAID brick" or LCRB. The IBM DS3400 is a good example of this. However, as we learned, SVC is not just for LCRB, it adds value in front of all kinds of disk systems, including the not-so-low-cost EMC DMX and IBM DS8000 disk systems. ISE might make a reasonable back-end managed disk device for IBM SVC to virtualize. This gives you the new cool features of Xiotech's ISE, with IBM SVC's faster performance, more robust functionality and advanced copy services.
Next week, I'll be in South America in meetings with IBM Business Partners and storage sales reps.
technorati tags: SNW, LCRB, Xiotech, ISE, IBM, BladeCenter, Jon Toigo, DrunkenData, Robin Harris, StorageMojo, SPC, SPC-1, SPC-2, Emprise, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, XIV, Nextra, Mark Twomey, StorageZilla, EMC, CLARiiON, System/38, AS/400, System i, i5/OS, V6R1, VIOS, Andy Monshaw, thin provisioning, N series, deduplication, de-dupe, A-SIS, SSD, HS21 XM, BarryB, Britney Spears, DMX, DS3400