Self Healing Storage Explained (again)

(Repost from Tech Target)

Xiotech Corp. Emprise 5000 and 7000 systems

Xiotech’s Emprise systems are put together using a building block it calls the Intelligent Storage Element (ISE). ISE is based on Advanced Storage Architecture technology which Xiotech acquired from disk drive maker Seagate Technologies Inc. in November 2007. According to Xiotech, an ISE reduces the two greatest causes of drive failure — heat and vibration — to provide more than 100 times the reliability of a regular disk drive enclosed in a typical storage system drive bay.

Xiotech’s product can power-cycle disks, perform diagnostics and error correction on bad drive sectors, and write ‘around’ them if necessary. Xiotech also claims its product will incur zero service events in five years of operation, and guarantees this under warranty.

Xiotech’s system comes in three models. The dual-controller Emprise 7000 SAN system supports up to 64 ISEs and includes the same management features as the Xiotech Magnitude 3D 4000 platform, including intelligent provisioning and a replication suite. Like the Magnitude 3D, the Emprise 7000 supports Fibre Channel or iSCSI. It scales to 1 PB.

The single-controller Emprise 7000 Edge is positioned targeting branch offices and the midmarket. It supports up to 10 ISE for a total maximum capacity of 160 TB. The Emprise 5000 is a DAS system that consists of one ISE. It supports Fibre Channel only. Both the 7000 Edge and the 5000 can be upgraded to a Model 7000.

What users are saying about self-healing storage

Since Xiotech introduced ISE at Storage Networking World in the spring of 2008, the new technology has rapidly come to account for more than 80 percent of the company’s revenue. Scott Ladewig, manager of networking and operations for Washington University in St. Louis, traded in an older Xiotech model, the Magnitude 3000, for an Emprise 7000 last summer.

“In the past, it’s not like we’ve spent hundreds of man-hours on drives, our whole SAN is 24 TB or so,” he said. “But if a drive failed, we’d have to spend a Saturday night watching it rebuild, and drives are growing larger and larger, and taking longer periods of time to rebuild, when they’re vulnerable to a double disk failure.”

The five-year warranty offered by Xiotech included in the cost of the ISE system proved irresistible to Rick Young, network systems manager at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, who also replaced a Magnitude 3D 3000 with an Emprise 5000. “Right now we spend around $11,000 a year to maintain disk trays on the 3D,” he said. “Multiply that by five years on the Emprise system, and it’s no small amount of savings. We can put what we would’ve spent on maintenance towards our next refresh.”

For Richard Alcala, chief engineer of New Hat LLC, a post-production firm in Santa Monica, Calif. more typical scale-out storage products with clustered file systems proved too cumbersome to manage in a performance-intensive environment. “The highest priority for us is the number of real-time streams” the system can feed to artists working on videos. With the older system, “we spent a lot of time doing maintenance, trying to heal the system and recover data,” he said. “Once every three months we’d spend about four hours running diagnostics.” Alcala replaced that system with Data Direct Networks’ S2A 9900.

Xiotech has been “going gangbusters” in the enterprise with ISE, according to Data Mobility Group’s Harris, but generally, Harris said he thinks the most advanced self-healing storage products will get the most traction in specialized vertical markets like media and entertainment and high-performance computing (HPC). “That said, how hard is it to power-cycle a hard drive?” he said. “That ought to be SOP for every disk array out there.”

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