back to article Xiotech reloads Matrix

Xiotech is aiming to build a Matrix eco-system of storage system app vendors linking its superdisk ISE enclosures with direct storage-controlling apps like VMware, Oracle and Exchange 2010. Matrix is not an HP-like integrated IT stack product set, but a dynamic set of storage resources coordinated by a Matrix controller doing …

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what?

I read through what this is supposed to be a few times but still can't tell what they are talking about with this matrix thing.

As for thin provisioning, you need native support for it in the array *if* your array is going to be a shared resource, and the way things are going with consolidation there will be more and more arrays that are supporting more than one app.

Application level thin provisioning doesn't save much on the array side, because you have to provision a thick LUN to the app. So if you export a 1TB thick LUN and you start using VMware-based TP you can get TP at the application level(e.g. create 20 VMs each with 100GB of TP space and maybe you only use 20x5GB instead of 20x100GB). But that 1TB of data is still hard allocated on the array if the array itself is not using TP.

You could start out with smaller volumes on the array side and grow them dynamically, then somehow inform the app that the volume is bigger and it can format that extra space. Seems like a lot of extra work that can be avoided just by using TP on the array to begin with.

Also consider next gen thin provisioning which involves automatic space reclamation on the array, though transparent application support for that stuff is still tiny at this point.

as for Orcarnia, last I checked they were a file-based solution. Xiotech is a block based solution so you'd need another layer in there for the file based stuff, which to me means theres not a lot of point in trying to directly integrate Orcarnia with Xiotech.

Xiotech also does some pretty neat wide striping, and of course wide striping is the arch enemy of spin down, want to read that 20GB of data? I need to spin up 30 disks to do it..

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Xiotech

Hello,

My name is Rob Peglar, and I am VP, Technology for Xiotech. I wanted to respond to several points in the well-written commentary above.

1) The ISE is indeed a block device, but we have integrated it at the filesystem level (e.g. NTFS, ext3, etc.) by using Web Services and/or RESTful techniques. So, we can perform things like filesystem expansion that other arrays cannot. We have also provided automatic VMFS/VMDK construction from a single screen, from SAN layer to ESX layer to VM layer, for nearly two years; filesystem-aware.

2) These techniques also apply to thin and dynamic provisioning methods. So, it is technically incorrect to say that 'thin' (i.e. legacy over-commit allocate-on-write) is required 'on the array'. What is required is for the user to select provisioning style and for the system at large - filesystem, OS/hypervisor, and array - to understand it. Xiotech has had its implementation of thin, marketed as Intelligent Provisioning, for 18 months now.

3) We have automatic space reclaimation in terms of the ability to shrink a LUN and then perform Web Services/REST to shrink the filesystem as well, on the fly. This technique currently works for NTFS, since it's the first OS/HV to implement shrink filesystem on the fly.

4) You don't need 'another layer' for file-aware operations; you need to communicate with the OS/HV, and we do that via Web Services/REST. It's simple and effective and doesn't require extra software shims inside the host.

5) We have the 'PowerNap' method for the ISE, which puts the entire ISE to sleep (and wakes up similar to wake-on-LAN) thus mitigating the problem of individual disk control. This technique is very useful after backup and/or archive jobs run. It's not an effective technique for transactional workloads - but then again, as the commentor rightly says, neither is individual spin down.

Cheers

Rob

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