Xiotech Aims to Disrupt Enterprise Storage Market

By Steve Wexler

A privately held company based in Eden Prairie, Minn., Xiotech wants to solve the growing application/storage conflict with what it calls the market's first and only solution for intelligent application storage.

Originally spun off from Seagate, the company believes that storage vendors focusing on adding management software—i.e., Dell, EMC, HDS, HP, IBM and NetApp—don't understand that virtualization has changed the game. Rather than adding another layer of complexity and compatibility requirements, the intelligence needs to be in the applications.

This week it has announced the CorteX API  and a turnkey, scale-out, network-attached storage solution ISE NAS—that pairs Xiotech’s Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) blades with Symantec’s FileStore for file-based data management and protection. Due out in June, ISE NAS enables rapid deployment and automated provisioning of file storage and clustered file systems and can scale up to 16 asymmetric or symmetric nodes while storage can scale out seamlessly and independently up to 2 petabytes behind a single cluster.

This is a very powerful but cost-effective bundle, notes Yogesh Agrawal, vice president of FileStore Group at Symantec. "Together, FileStore and ISE deliver an extremely efficient solution that seamlessly scales from the entry level out to large HPC environments at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions."

Based on a RESTful architecture, CorteX allows ISE to be easily integrated into software as an application resource to control or automate storage management. These applications include storage resource management, hypervisors, messaging applications, database, data center automation, or custom-developed scripts or applets. Xiotech also launched a community to support CorteX development (www.cortexdeveloper.com), where visitors can learn more about CorteX, share software code and best practices, see sample code and start building CorteX applications.

Xiotech Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Brian Reagan tells Channel Insider that Intelligent Application Storage is all about not having to choose between performance and capacity. The company unveiled its ISA vision and road map last month, which is built on three pillars: application-based, scale-out storage building blocks; an application-based management platform; and an integrated application/storage API.

According to Mark Peters, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, the IAS architecture seeks to make storage a cooperative partner to applications rather than a potentially combative issue. "The traditional pain points of storage—including growth, reliability and flexibility—are only exacerbated in today's increasingly virtualized environments, and they cannot be alleviated by the management friction that is endemic in many traditional IT environments."

The IT industry has reached an inflexion point, says Reagan. "This new age for storage is coming at time when storage is being asked to do more and share better. It creates very interesting tension in the systems." Xiotech is responding by helping customers do more by buying less, and getting better performance.

That's sharp contrast to the classic storage model, says Reagan, who has a long history in the storage industry, including stints with IBM and EMC. Companies have been adding more and more capabilities into the controller level, resulting in a lot of functionality that just isn’t used. But that's just the tip of the iceberg, he says. There are fundamental problems with this model, including resource constraint, the inability to scale linearly and isolation, which is more pronounced in the virtualization world.

Last year Xiotech grew its channel business by a third, and Reagan says they intend to do even more this year. "We intend to drive more and more into the channel." The company has ambitious expansion plans and the channel will be key to that growth.

"This is a year for us of very significant expansion in revenue, channel and geographic reach. We're not going to be able to do that without the help of our partners."

This article was originally published on 2010-04-20