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Atlantis ILIO moves into hyper-converged storage

Atlantis ILIO USX takes the startup beyond VDI and into hyper-converged storage with the ability to use inline memory to pool data center resources.

Atlantis Computing Inc. aims to move beyond optimizing virtual desktop infrastructure storage with its latest software, which uses inline memory to deliver the startup's version of software-defined storage.

The new Atlantis ILIO USX software pools capacity from storage area network (SAN), network-attached storage (NAS), direct-attached storage (DAS), RAM or server flash. It creates hyper-converged, hybrid or all-flash storage from these existing resources by using in-memory computing power for applications.

Until now, Atlantis' core product has been the Atlantis ILIO Diskless Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) software appliance, which reduces desktop images and offloads I/O-intensive Windows operations from VDI.

"VDI is 5% to 10% of the virtual infrastructure," said Gregg Holzrichter, Atlantis' vice president of marketing. "Now, we're looking to support the other 90% of the market."

Holzrichter said ILIO USX can support up to five times more virtual machines (VMs) on existing storage and can reduce storage costs by turning DAS into enterprise storage.

Jeff Boles, a senior analyst at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group, said customers were reluctant to use RAM as a storage accelerator because it was expensive. However, the industry has reached an inflection point because the memory bus has become bigger and the price of RAM has declined.

"RAM is low-latency and high-performance, and the Atlantis technology makes use of memory in the server to accelerate storage," Boles said. "One handicap is RAM is not persistent, but Atlantis is using it for cache and it's more protected so it can be used for persistent storage. Because a distributed cluster is using RAM, your cache is still online if one node fails."

Atlantis ILIO is deployed on each physical server, sitting on the hypervisor, and delivers storage data services to each VM. A virtualization platform is required to run ILIO USX, but applications installed on a physical server can use its storage volumes through CIFS, NFS or iSCSI. It will support object storage in the future, the firm's Holzrichter said.

Customers can use USX to create a software-based hybrid array combining RAM and a SAN or NAS to boost performance and increase the number of VMs supported; they can create an all-flash array by combining shared and local flash to enhance flash storage capacity; or they can deploy it as a hyper-converged system using each server's RAM, flash, and SAS or SATA drives to create an integrated storage and compute platform.

USX works similarly to VMware's Virtual SAN (vSAN), which is scheduled to come out of beta next month. Atlantis positions USX as complementary to vSAN because it can pool vSANs to boost performance and decrease the storage used by vSAN. USX can also deliver storage services to vSAN, such as inline dedupe, thin provisioning and fast cloning.

ILIO USX resides above the control and data planes, and connects via REST application programming interfaces to software-defined data center orchestration systems, such as CloudStack, OpenStack, vCAC, IBM SmartCloud and BMC Cloud Lifecycle Management.

"We're using server memory to power the data services," Holzrichter said. "We intercept all the I/O coming from the VM, and then we use the server memory to power the data services. It extends your existing storage by using in-memory computing for any application."

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