Xiotech Scales Its Storage Clusters

Xiotech adds controller nodes to its midrange storage cluster subsystem.

Xiotech Corp. is bolting additional controller nodes onto its midrange storage cluster subsystem to provide stronger data resiliency and availability in a virtualized disk environment.

A new version of Xiotechs Magnitude 3D Dimensional Storage Cluster, due in a controlled release this quarter, will double the number of DCNs (dimensional controller nodes) to four, thus increasing server access performance.

The Magnitude 3D is a storage clustering management device that connects to an enterprises midrange servers and simplifies administration of SANs (storage area networks) while executing distributed, clusterwide failover. Each DCN features four 2G-bps Fibre Channel ports that connect to the server. The Magnitude 3D currently supports only two DCNs, said officials in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Although the four-way Magnitude 3D will first be available only for Windows environments, Xiotech Chief Technology Officer Karl Schubert said plans are under way to expand platform support to include Novell Inc.s NetWare and SuSE Linux. In addition, he said, the as-yet-unnamed next version of the Magnitude 3D will include asynchronous remote mirroring, which some industry analysts say is lacking in the latest version.

Magnitude 3D customer Rick Taylor said that the four-way Magnitude 3D could appear on his radar screen in terms of disaster recovery but that Xiotech must overcome a key limitation in its Fibre Channel connections: The distance between DCN head units cant exceed 300 meters.

Nevertheless, Taylor, technical support manager for Washington University School of Medicine—Department of Surgery, in St. Louis, said he is happy with the Magnitude 3Ds ability to add virtual disk space and boot straight from the SAN. "Were the school of medicine, so theres a lot of research, and we have to store that data. We buy half a terabyte [of storage] a year, and we need something virtual so we dont have to build containers," said Taylor.

Xiotechs Schubert would not say whether his company would incorporate other notable functions that analysts say are missing from the product, such as caching and data snapshots.

"Differential snapshotting is key because that allows people to save money and doesnt take as much storage capacity. ... It allows me to make more copies to have different points in times to recover from," said Tony Asaro, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, in Milford, Mass.


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