Xiotech debuts ‘clustered’ controllers

Storage vendor Xiotech Corp. yesterday announced a new clustering technology for its storage array that is designed to increase resiliency and ease management of storage-area networks (SAN) by automatically failing over to secondary controllers during outages.

Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Xiotech said its Magnitude 3D storage array can also perform on-the-fly dynamic configuration and data volume management. For example, a 1TB database volume could be expanded to 2TB without having to back up the data, create a new 2TB volume and restore the database.

Steve Kenniston, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group in Milford, Mass., said the most impressive feature on the new clustered storage architecture is the use of a single name space to glue multiple controllers together.

The 2U-high controllers (1U = 1.75 in.) come with four Fibre Channel host bus adapters for fail-over capability and three Intel Corp. i960 processors.

Kenniston said there is currently no other product like the Magnitude 3D on the storage market, and because of that — and high demand for resilient storage — Xiotech is already making inroads into key government, educational and enterprise-class customer markets.

Anthony Lloyd, vice-president of Computer Operations at Warner Bros., recently purchased three Magnitude 3D arrays for his Burbank, Calif., data center’s SAN. He said he was impressed with the performance of the array, which is about three times better than that of the previous generation of Magnitude arrays.

“The thing we didn’t like about the original magnitude was that it had a single controller and it was limited to 32 drives per chassis,” Lloyd said. He said he was also “impressed that we were able to easily build and tear down (logical unit numbers) on the fly.”

A Xiotech spokesman said the company solved its past resiliency issues by distributing its controllers. Xiotech’s Dimensional Storage Clusters include two nodes or devices, each with a controller and eight host-bus adapters for connections to drives and switches. The controllers can be located up to 300 meters apart. Each cluster can store up to 32TB of data, compared with 9.5TB in the last version of the Magnitude array.

Xiotech said it will offer a 16-node cluster by early next year.

A fully loaded, two-node Magnitude 3D configuration with 2TB of capacity would cost about US$130,000, the company said.