Atlantis Computing USX: software-defined storage for VMs

Organizations are seeking ways to reduce their storage costs while also improving performance, reliability and manageability. Atlantis Computing believes that its USX addresses these requirements for virtual applications.

Atlantis Computing's Gregg Holzrichter introduced me to the company's newest version of USX. USX is Atlantis' software solution to deliver the benefits of software-defined storage. This includes policy-based management of storage resources, storage pooling and automation of storage functions. The company also provides a representational state transfer (REST) API allowing organizations to automate storage functions. Holzrichter made a point to say that this product was awarded  "Best of VMworld" in the storage category this year.

What does USX do? 

Read this...

Storage in 2014: An overview

As data usage continues to grow exponentially, IT managers will need to orchestrate multiple kinds of storage — including flash, hard disk and tape — in a way that optimises capacity, performance, cost and power consumption.

Read More

Atlantis USX creates a software-defined storage environment that offers flash-like performance using an organization’s current storage infrastructure. This includes SANs, NAS or DAS infrastructure. Resources are pooled to make it easier to manage resources and extend the lifecycle of storage devices.

The company claims that storage performance can be accelerated by as much as 10 times.

USX's deduplication and compression features make it possible, Atlantis points out, for enterprises to avoid purchasing additional storage for more than five years.

USX's data mobility features, the company says, makes it possible to easily transition storage from shared storage systems to lower cost hyper-converged systems and public cloud storage.

How does it work?

USX is installed on each of the physical systems in a network as a virtual machine. Once installed, USX takes an inventory of all local available server resources, including disk, flash storage and memory. It also learns about the available network capacity.

USX then sets up a highly available cluster to provide N-way data replication for both performance and data reliability. This requires three physical hosts for product installation. More hosts can be added as needed.

Once USX is installed, it optimizes the use of available storage for other virtual machines executing on the hosts by abstracting all storage (SAN, NAS, Flash, RAM, DAS, Hybrid Arrays, and Public Cloud) to deliver virtual storage volumes to applications.

Storage is treated like a pool of storage. Deduplication, what Atlantis calls "HyperDup™", is used to reduce the size of storage required, accelerate I/O, simplify provisioning of storage for applications, making it easier to move data and to increase levels of availability and security.

Atlantis USX 2.0 currently supports VMware's virtual infrastructure, with additional hypervisor support planned for early next year. Atlantis ILIO, our VDI only product, supports Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix's XENserver as well as VMware's vSphere.

Snapshot analysis

A number of suppliers, including Atlantis Computing, Cisco, Data Core, NetApp, Sanbolic and others, have been waving the software-defined storage banner recently. Typically, SDS products focus on improving the performance, reliability and managability of the vendor's own storage products. A few, including Atlantis Computing, Data Core and Sanbolic, offer products that support storage products that are currently installed in an organization's data center.

Most of these suppliers boast of the performance improvements their products offer and how their products make it possible to separate management and storage functions to reduce administration costs.

Atlantis Computing USX is focused on VMware-based virtual environments today and the company plans to offer versions of its product to support other virtual machine software environments in the future. While this is an interesting feature, others are touting their ability to offer a software-defined storage environment to all applications, physical, virtual or cloud-based, executing in an industry standard computing environment.

Will Atlantis Computing's USX be the best product for your company? I'd suggest seeing a demonstration and then comparing what the product will do for your company with what products from other suppliers will do. I've spoken with customers of Data Core, Sanbolic and a few others. For the most part, they are very pleased with the performance and cost reductions for both management and storage hardware these products have provided.