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Analysis

Atlantis bids for agile enterprise storage market
Peter Williams By: Peter Williams, Practice Leader - IT Infrastructure Mgmt., Bloor Research
Published: 11th February 2014
Copyright Bloor Research © 2014
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Atlantis Computing has taken its expertise in optimising virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) storage performance and today launched a software-defined storage solution that runs using server capacity - Atlantis ILIO USX. This is among the very first truly agile storage solutions.

Atlantis also says that users can deploy up to five times more VMs with their existing storage to massively reduce the need for new equipment investment.

So far, Atlantis ILIO USX is the only in-memory software-defined storage solution able to pool (“hyper-converge”) and optimise all data centre storage types including SAN, NAS, RAM and DAS (with SSD, Flash, SAS, SATA disk types). Options in this include: an all-flash array of local and shared flash storage (increasing capacity by five times), a system that uses each servers’ RAM, Flash, SAS and SATA for an integrated storage and compute platform, and a hybrid array of server RAM and existing shared SAN or NAS to also boost performance and increase the number of supported VMs.

RAM, as deployed in all servers, typically performs at some 100,000 times the speed of spinning disk, so much greater utilisation inherently boosts access performance.  

Gregg Holzrichter, Atlantis’ VP of marketing told me that this would unlock huge amounts of already-deployed but under-utilised server and storage capacity. “Organisations will not replace $50Bn-worth of equipment [aggregate] overnight, and this enables them to boost capacity with what they have,” he said. This includes older arrays and also means much greater flexibility to create, for instance, more storage tiers and adapt faster to changing business needs – the agile storage goal.

This is not an insubstantial development either. Atlantis ILIO USX provides redundancy and high availability (HA) by having a node on each physical server then applying mirroring (at least three nodes needed). There is also ultra-fast in-line de-duplication, content-aware compression and provisioning at the compute layer that together massively increase performance yet shrink the storage footprint by 90% plus.

Equally important to enterprises is the software’s automated policy-based provisio; this allows flexibility, for instance, in defining quality of service (QoS) and SLAs. It is achieved by its integration with existing provisioning workflows and orchestration systems through REST APIs. This in turn also simplifies the headache that is storage management – moving towards agility by offering rapid on-demand creation of data stores and VMs, and provisioning using automated configuring and deployment. The VMs then integrate with the hypervisor layer to present standard file- and block-based storage to applications.

ILIO (which stands for In-Line Input-Output) is Atlantis' VDI product that supports the three leading hypervisors. This has some 440 customers (over half now outside the US) using half a million VM licenses to optimise over 12 PBs of storage. Expansion has meant more than trebling its employees to 160 as a result of 100% growth in 12 months; it also has deep relations with some key systems integrators (SIs). With many large multi-national companies now established users, and specialist expertise in virtual environments, Atlantis' move to servers was probably a natural progression – but it also represents a whole new way of deploying and accessing storage.

As of now, ILIO USX (USX standing for Unified software-defined Storage, with X presumably for eXecutive and anyway complementing VMware ESX), will work well in-house. However, it does not yet fit easily into public cloud environments. That is something Atlantis is addressing, but Holzrichter said the priority was “the low-hanging fruit” - a pretty large market in its own right including its existing user-base and just about everyone else with in-house virtual server deployments.

I think Atlantis has a considerable head-start on competitors in this space but, as always, only time will tell. I also have one piece of advice to major purchasers of IT storage: “Don’t buy another SAN without first taking a look at the Atlantis ILIO USX approach” – because this type of software, along with recent cloud storage developments, could be sounding the death knell for traditional SANs

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Published by: IT Analysis Communications Ltd.
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