Atlantis releases Unified Software Defined Storage ILIO USX

Atlantis Computing released a new 100% software solution named ILIO USX (=Unified Software Defined Storage) which enables both a capacity & performance increase  compared to existing SAN/NAS/DAS.

Organizations using server virtualization are facing two operational challenges:

  • growth of data (new application, current fileservers, databases, big data etc)
  • increasing demand for performance. Both caused by increased number of applications as well as disk intensive applications.

These challenges are traditionally solved by adding more spindles in current SAN or NAS, or by adding purpose build storage solutions. Think about solutions like Nutanix, Nimble, Pure Storage, EMC XtremIO etc. See my blogpost for an overview.

The disadvantages of this approach are:

  • costs . Hybrid arrays with flash and HDD or All Flash Arrays (AFA) are relative expensive
  • different silo’s of storage solutions all having different management interfaces and requiring specific knowledge.

Atlantis ILIO USX has a different approach. It is able to use currently in use  storage arrays (SAN/NAS), abstracts its storage and provides both a storage capacity and performance boost to that storage arrays. Plus it uses the physical host memory (RAM) and host based Flash as a performance boost. 

This can be somehow compared to what for example VMware VSAN, Nutanix and Maxta MxSP do: they use SSD as a cache. However ILIO USX uses host RAM not as a cache but as a distributed storage volume. Nothing beats the speed of RAM.

Architecture: In-Memory Storage Volumes

Atlantis ILIO USX pools local server RAM, flash or “flash on Dimm” resources across multiple servers to create a high-performance In-Memory storage volume that can be used as primary storage. Data is protected by replicating it between multiple hosts and, optionally to shared storage in a capacity pool.

Turn local storage into enterprise storage

USX is able to use local storage and present it to virtual machines as a volume very similar to what Nutanix, VMware VSAN, Maxta MxSP and Simplivity does. USX pools local disks of multiple hosts into a distributed datastore.

For resiliency data is replicated to other nodes in the cluster. So if a host/node fails, data is not lost. For this replication of both the storage layer and the volume stored in memory  10Gb/s network cards are required. There is no limit in the number of nodes in a cluster.

Volumes are presented using NFS or iSCSI. This way even applications running on physical servers can benefit from USX services like de-dup, compression etc.

USX is installed on each VMware ESX host as a virtual appliance running a Linux based os. This same appraoch is used by Nutanix and Maxta.The USX software running on that virtual appliance is able to provide high end data services like dedup, inline compression, IO processing, write coalescing, fast clones, high availability and thin provisioning to any class of storage, delivered with in-memory speed.

ILIO USX is not a typical replacement of a current of even new storage solution (SAN/NAS). If an organization already invested in an all-flash array or hybrid array Atlantis ILIO USX can enhance that array. Those arrays provide great performance but not always optimal storage capacity. Because of the dedupe and compression technology at the compute level ILIO USX enables storing of up to 5 x more VMs per Terrabyte. Because of the smart way of writing data the lifetime of flash is extended.

One of the Atlantis customers uses EqualLogic arrays and pools them with their Nimble arrays to more than double the available storage capacity, while delivering 10x increase in the performance.

This is a Atlantis document explaining how VMware VSAN benefits from USX.

Hypervisor support
To be able to use ILIO USX a hypervisor is required. Currently support is limited to VMware ESX. Support for Hyper-V will be added later this year.

cloud support
Version 1.0 supports IBM SmartCloud integration. Not sure what that is.

In the 1.5 release expected in spring support is added for Amazon S3 and OpenStack Swift object storage.

Licensing & pricing 

ILIO USX has a capacity based licensing. Customers purchases licenses based on the total storage capacity presented by ILIO USX. Licenses are added incrementally in steps of 1 TB . Licensing does not depend on the characteristics of the underlying storage. So pricing is same for SSD, Flash, HDD etc. Also there is just one edition available.
Pricing has not been announced yet. Atlantis Computing partners which have done a training will be able to provide pricing.  USX is available starting now, through certified partners.

Evaluation versions which can be used for a limited time are expected to be available by the end of February.

More information

The press release of Atlantis Computing on ILIO USX.
Atlantis ILIO USX Techical FAQ
Atlantis ILIO USX information

The Register: Mystical VM-accelerating beast emerges from Atlantis

Blogs on ILIO USX

Atlantis launches USX. In-Memory storage for your VMware environment by Luca Dell’Oca of

Atlantis ILIO USX, In-Memory Performance for Servers by Marco Broeken of

Atlantis launches ILIO USX – pooled storage for virutalized serversby IT Candor

Atlantis ILIO USX – unified software-defined storage by Andrea Mauro of 

Atlantis Computing Releases ILIO USX – Deploy Up to 5x More VMs / Lowers Costs by up to 50% by

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