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EMC announces XtremIO General Availability (Part I)

EMC announces XtremIO General Availability (Part I)

By Greg Schulz

Storage I/O trends

EMC announces XtremIO flash SSD General Availability

EMC announced today the general availability (GA) if the all flash Solid State Device (SSD) XtremIO that they acquired a little over a year ago. Earlier this year EMC announced directed availability (DA) of the EMC version of XtremIO as part of other SSD hardware and software updates (here and here). The XtremIO GA announcement also follows that of the VNX2 or MCx released in September of this year that also has flash SSD enhancements along with doing more with available resources.

EMC XtremIO flash SSD boosting storage I/O performance

As an industry trend, the question is not if SSD is in your future, rather where, when, how much, what to use along with coexistence to complement Hard Disk Drive (HDD) based solutions in some environments. This also means that SSD is like real estate where location matters, not to mention having different types of technologies, packaging, solutions to meet various needs (and price points). This all ties back to the best server and storage I/O or IOP is the one that you do know have to do, the second best is the one with the least impact and best application benefit.

From industry adoption to customer deployment

EMC has evolved the XtremIO platform from a pre-acquisition solution to an first EMC version that was offered to an early set of customers e.g. DA.

I suspect that the DA was as much a focus on getting early customer feedback, addressing immediate needs or opportunities as wells as getting the EMC sales and marketing teams messaging, marching orders aligned and deployed. The latter would be rather important to decrease or avoid the temptation to cannibalize existing product sales with the shiny new technology (SNT). Likewise, it would be important for EMC to not create isolated pockets or fenced off products as some other vendors often do.

EMC XtremIO X-Brick
25 SSD drive X-Brick

What is being announced?

  • General availability vs. directed or limited availability
  • Version 2.2 of the XIOS platform software
  • Integrating with EMC support and service tools

Let us get back go this announcement and XtremIO of which EMC has indicated that they have several customers who have now done either $1M or $5M USD deals. EMC has claimed over 1.5 PBytes have been booked and deployed, or with data footprint reduction (DFR) including dedupe over 10PB effective capacity. Note that for those who are focused on dedupe or DFR reduction ratios 10:1.5 may not be as impressive as seen with some backup solutions, however keep in mind that this is for primary high performance storage vs. secondary or tertiary storage devices.

As part of this announcement, EMC has also release V2.2 of the XtremIO platform software (XIOS). Hence a normal new product should start with a version 1.0 at launch, however as explained this is both a new version of the technology as well as the initial GA by EMC.

Also as part of this announcement, EMC is making available XtremIO 10TB X-Bricks with 25 eMLC SSD drives each, along with dual controllers (storage processors). EMC has indicated that it will make available a 20TB X-Brick using larger capacity SSD drives in January 2014. Note that the same type of SSD drives must be used in the systems. Currently there can be up to four X-Bricks per XtremIO cluster or instance that are interconnected using a dedicated InfiniBand Fabric. Application servers access the XtremIO X-Bricks using standard Fibre Channel or Ethernet and IP based iSCSI. In addition to the hardware platform items, the XtremIO platform software (XIOS) includes built-in on the fly data footprint reduction (DFR) using global dedupe during data ingestion and placement. Other features include thin provisioning, VMware VAII, data protection and self-balancing data placement.

Storage I/O trends

Who or what applications are XtremIO being positioned for?

Some of XtremIO industry sectors include:

  • Financial and insurance services
  • Medical, healthcare and life sciences
  • Manufacturing, retail and warehouse management
  • Government and defense
  • Media and entertainment
Application and workload focus:

  • VDI including replacing linked clones with ability to do full clone without overhead
  • Server virtualization where aggregation causes aggravation with many mixed IOPs
  • Database for reducing latency, boosting IOPs as well as improving software license costs.

Databases such as IBM DB2, Oracle RAC, Microsoft SQLserver and MySQL among others have traditionally for decades been a prime opportunity for SSD (DRAM and flash). This also includes newer NoSQL or key value stores and meta data repositories for object such as Mongo, Hbase, Cassandra, Riak among others. Typical focus includes placing entire instances, or specific files and objects such as indices, journals and redo logs, import/export temp or scratch space, message queries and high activity tables among others.

What about overlap with other EMC products?

If you simply looked at the above list of sectors (among others) or applications, you could easily come to a conclusion that there is or would be overlap. Granted in some environments there will be which means XtremIO (or other vendors solutions) may be the primary storage solution. On the other hand since everything is not the same in most data centers or information factories, there will be a mix of storage systems handling various tasks. This is where EMC will need to be careful learning what they did during DA on where to place XtremIO and how to positing to complement when and where needed other solutions, or as applicable being a replacement.

XtremIO Announcement Summary

  • All flash SSD storage solution with iSCSI and Fibre Channel server attachment
  • Scale out and scale up performance while keeping latency low and deterministic
  • Enhanced flash duty cycle (wear leveling) to increase program / erase (P/E) cycles durability
  • Can complement other storage systems, arrays or appliances or function as a standalone
  • Coexists and complements host side caching hardware and software
  • Inline always on data footprint reduction (DFR) including dedupe (global dedupe without performance compromise), space saving snapshots and copies along with thin provisioning

Storage I/O trends

Some General Comment and Perspectives

Overall, XtremIO gives EMC and their customers, partners and prospects a new technology to use and add to their toolbox for addressing various challenges. SSD is in your future, when, where, with what and how are questions not to mention how much. After all, a bit of flash SSD in the right location used effectively can have a large impact. On the other hand, a lot of flash SSD in the wrong place or not used effectively will cost you lots of cash. Key for EMC and their partners will be to articulate clearly, where XtremIO fits vs. other solutions without adding complexity.

Checkout part II of this series to learn more about XtremIO including what it is, how it works, competition and added perspectives.

Ok, nuff said (for now).


Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)

All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2013 StorageIO All Rights Reserved

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More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

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