IT infrastructure vendor EMC Corp. has launched XtremeIO, a new all-flash storage array the company says will be a game changer for enterprises that provision virtual machines, and in markets such as financial institutions, trading and testing & development.
According to EMC, XtremIO is the first all-flash array to deliver consistently high performance to any application over a period of time, regardless of workload or capacity utilized. It touts several innovations that have helped achieve this, such as a scale-out multi-controller architecture with linear scalability, always-on and always inline deduplication, and data protection that is both faster and more efficient.
Going all-flash isn’t new; according to EMC Canada CTO Kashif Ansari, what limited past flash systems was that the operating system was still designed for a spinning disk world. XtremeIO changes that with a new OS designed for flash-based storage.
“We believe that flash with the correct architecture is a game changer,” said Ansari. “When the OS was designed for spinning disk, flash was only going to improve performance so much.”
EMC points to four technological innovations that have helped to achieve the performance gains. Content-based data placement ensures the array is balanced and optimized to within a fraction of a percent across all drives and controllers. A dual-stage metadata engine allows flash to do what it does best – place data anywhere in the array – and not require back-end cleaning processes. XtremIO data protection is a flash-specific algorithm to guard against SSD failures and deliver more usable capacity. And shared in-memory metadata improves performance by rapidly cloning information already in the array to speed common tasks such as virtual machine deployment.
In fact, virtual machines is one of the sweet spots that Ansari points to for XtremIO, saying it’s a good fit for any workloads that require consistency low latency.
“VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) is the perfect use case; that’s where it does very well. Video streaming, for example, would not be a good fit,” said Ansari.
In terms of company size, in a virtual machine scenario it would be a fit for environments with 1000 desktops or more. You wouldn’t want to do it with 100 desktops, but at 1000 or more the economics are very competitive, said EMC Canada country manager Michael Sharun.
“No one will be able to come at us on this on the cost per desktop,” said Sharun. “The old technology is masking a lot of problems. VDI is now ready for prime time because of this product. This is the iPad vs the Newton.”
VDI is a key market, but Ansari added any use case where applications need to be delivered more quickly to the business would be a good fit for XtremIO, such as financial institutions, trading systems where low latency is critical, and testing & development environments.
EMC’s channel partners will be key to bringing XtremIO to market, said Sharun, because it’s definitely not a box sale. It’s a solution sell requiring a deep knowledge of the customer architecture and business needs.
“This is a part of the whole stack. It’s not something you just stick in the corner and build other architecture around,” said Sharun. “It needs to become part of that the organization is doing.
Sharun said EMC has evaluated its channel, looking for the partners that play in the high-end space, doing VDI or helping customers with testing & development, and is arming them with go to market material to position this as part of the overall architecture infrastructure for the customer.
“Most of this will be partner-driven, because the use cases are so tightly intertwined with the other strategies in the customer segment,” said Sharun. “It’s a use case partners can take and run with very well.”
XtremIO is architected as a scale-out array based on building blocks that EMC has dubbed X-Bricks. Each X-Brick will have 10TB of capacity (a 20TB will be available next year) and the arrat can deliver up to one million fully random IOPS with over 250TB of effective capacity in a single XtremIO cluster with inline deduplication.
It is available now.