Citrix has a great outlook for high-level virtualization, with flagship products like XenDesktop and GoToMeeting. But as amassing data drives demand for cloud innovation, storage presents itself as an important focal point for Citrix’s supporting products. At Citrix Synergy this week, the company revealed its vision for the new era of cloud computing, with virtualization as a central aspect of its mobility and open cloud initiatives. During an interview with John Furrier and Dave Vellante at theCube, Xiotech COO George Symons discusses his company’s role in the future of Citrix’s storage needs, as it pertains to Citrix’s ability to sustain performance and reliability in the cloud.
The interview starts with Symons outlining Xiotech’s radical perspective on storage, its main principle being simplicity. Symons pegs the two issues with virtualization; VDI in particular requires a tremendous amount of performance, and can be costly. “The fact that you get twice the performance out the same speed disc is really important for Xiotech because storage is a bottleneck,” Symons says, noting how Xiotech products address these two issues. “And if it’s too expensive, people aren’t going to do it.”
Furrier jumps in with a point about corporate tech jewelry driving a great deal of development for cloud services, but few discussions taking place around storage. “Everything comes back down to storage,” Furrier says with a nod to his co-host, going on to ask Symons what people need to know about storage in their virtualization journey.
“From a storage perspective, data has to live somewhere,” Symons explains. “Without it, why are we doing all this? You’re dealing with IT organizations and their preference is, ‘it’s you’re problem, not mine.’ Now we have everything from legal requirements to organizations just living on that data.
“It means dealing with a new type of information we have to track and manage. A lot of data that tends to be random objects. I need to have an expandable storage solution that grows as needed. The storage challenge is really growth, as demand picks up.”
Furrier then notes some trends Wikibon’s analysts have noted on CIO concerns, as they’re mandated to run faster systems and do more. “The theme here is the PC era is dead,” Furrier asserts. We’re moving to the cloud era. In the old days, it was a scale up. Now we’re in scale out mode.”
so what does it mean for Xiotech and its emerging VDI solutions? “I don’t have to buy a big piece of hardware and then fill it up, and then have to buy another piece,” Symons answers. “That incremental scaling is unpredictable. That’s an issue with the scale up versus scale out model. In our scale out model, every brick has its own IO pad. So it’s that level of predictability that’s so important.”
“It’s interesting to see you go after VDI storage,” Vellante notes. “Of course, this is after the iPad, but it feels VDI is going from a niche offering to something high in demand. Do you do Xiotech-specific VDI, and are you seeing an uptake in adoption?”
“Early on we talked to partners about VDI and they said it was important, but [Xiotech] is only a part of the solution. That’s why we put together the VDI coalition,” Symons reflects, going on to note some early partners, including Pano Logic, Citrix, Glasshouse. It’s an important partnership solution for Xiotech as it looks to scale its own services and become as accessible as possible, working hand-in-hand with other cloud services so every partner can offer a complete solution.
The question remains, is Xiotech an integral part of what Citrix is doing with virtualization? Symons touts its Hybrid ISE solution as central to its role in desktop virtualization, as it features a mix of flash and spinning disc technology. “How we utilize flash with the disc is continuous adaptive data placement,” he blurts, laughing at the tongue-twisting product’s name. “CDAP for short,” Symons continues.
“There’s two issues with flash–writes are slow, and it wears out the more you write to it. We actually write to the spinning disc and promote into flash based on heat maps and use patterns of the data,” Symons explains. “What we’re doing is putting the data that gets read the most into flash. So when you get one of your hybrids, it’ll start real nicely within a few hours.”
Xiotech’s ISE solution speaks to the company’s efforts to simplify the cloud, moving more functions up the server stack. It’s a method that will eventually eliminate the server “middle,” ultimately improving both speed and performance within a given stack. ISE has already gained recognition as a breakthrough product, winning two awards at a recent Microsoft event. Xiotech’s really been able to offer innovative products because of its core team, and their longevity in the business.
“This team has been together since the early days,” Symons notes. “What they’ve seen is this trend…and the team looked at what made sense to get even closer to the drive. ISE puts the caching operations right with the drive, where it makes sense to leverage it. We’ve gone through another generation of drives. It happens to be a collection of drives, but what you get with that is reliability.”