Data growth and other storage issues are too often handled on an ad hoc basis by IT managers, says Joel Norton, business development director of newly-established Orange Data Storage.
Because storage strategy is often done on a semi-planned basis, Norton says, hazy tender requests are a feature of the storage market: “The RFP says, ‘we’ve got this problem; how do you suggest fixing it?’”
Orange is the New Zealand agent for Xiotech storage products, which has recently set up a presence in Australia. Orange is offering up-front consultancy to help the customer formulate a storage strategy. It will produce a vendor-neutral report, Norton claims — “something the customer can take to any storage vendor” — though if the customer chooses an Orange/Xiotech solution, the consultancy comes free; otherwise it’s charged for.
Xiotech’s products are based on a concept of “virtual” storage units. While in a conventional storage area network it is usual for each storage unit to keep its own Raid subset of disks, Xiotech shares the whole pool of disks among units that can be resized according to need. Data can be striped across all the disks, says Xiotech’s Australia-NZ regional manager, Tom Ruelcke.
This means an end to “ordering another 18GB disk for a project and being told ‘we don’t do the 18s any more; you’ll have to have 36' ”, he says. In a Xiotech array the 36GB disk can be installed and the other 18GB passed over to another project that might need more.
With disk drives replaceable “on the fly” to increase capacity, the system does not have to be brought down for an upgrade; data on the old disk simply swaps to the single hot standby drive and is restored to the larger disk when it has been installed.
Backup is similarly automatic, says Ruelcke. “We’re giving the IT staff their lives back.”
Norton suggested that the unit is moving toward developing true network storage which may combine the virtues of SAN and NAS.
Not many of New Zealand’s relatively small IT shops can afford to keep a storage specialist on staff, Norton says, so he expects the simple upgrade and management to be a significant selling point here.
Xiotech is a subsidiary of disk manufacturer Seagate, and the Xiotech boxes are built entirely on Seagate disks.
Norton has held senior roles in this country at Sun Microsystems and Hitachi.