Andrew Bucking the ‘hardware is a commodity’ trend seen widely in the storage industry these days, emerging vendor Xiotech recently announced their Emprise line of storage arrays based on a modular component called Intelligent Storage Element (ISE), housing drives in sealed DataPacs designed to dampen vibration, prolong lifespan, and reduce the incidence of “no fault errors.”

The ISE relies on a custom enclosure architecture that mounts drives in an opposing fashion to cancel vibration and uses advanced materials and design to improve cooling and IOPS performance. While the drives inside are standard Seagate HDDs, they use specialized firmware to allow for advanced error management and give ISEs the ability to manage around errors, bypassing bad sectors without having to swap out individual failed drives. This has the effect of increasing the size of the base unit of storage, from the individual drive to the ISE, allowing storage admins to spend their time on higher level data management while base level functions like striping, drive, and spindle management are automated.

Technology features aside, the Xiotech solution drives business impact for users. Because of the improved reliability of the new architecture, the vendor offers a five year warranty standard with Emprise arrays, contrasted with typical warranties of three years in the storage industry. This relieves customers from the burden of costly and complex migrations after only three years of service, or the prospect of paying around 15% of total array purchase price for annual maintenance — either of which can add up very quickly in terms of overall IT expenditures. Combine this cost avoidance with the claims for easier management for an ISE based system and the result is a significant reduction of overall operating expense related to storage. Xiotech, a relatively small fish in the ocean of sharks that is the storage industry, gains a serious product differentiator with this announcement — one that can directly translate into reduced deployment and management costs for storage; a timely attribute in this time of shrinking budgets and ever growing data.

By Andrew Reichman

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