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Software maker Atlantis updates its ILIO solution

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March 11, 2013

Earlier this morning, software maker Atlantis confirmed that it has updated its ILIO solution, which manages the storage of virtual desktops in data centres, in a manner that virtualized servers run entirely in memory.

Atlantis' ILIO Persistent VDI 4.0 lets Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View customers run virtual desktops in-memory using RAM as primary storage, making the virtual desktops cost less and actually run faster than physical PCs.

The company claims that it delivers a better-than-PC user experience at an infrastructure cost of less than $300 per desktop, and the deployment is fully automated.

However, its technology isn't totally disk-free-- it still benefits from the performance of local server RAM, but at the same time it maintains a real-time optimized backup system using a small amount of shared SAN/NAS storage to ensure data protection and availability.

Atlantis Computing is a privately-held company founded by CEO Chetan Venkatesh almost ten years ago. He ran the company until December 2009 when Bernard Harguindeguy was brought in as the new CEO. Venkatesh became CTO.

ILIO Persistent VDI 4.0 has these features, according to the company:

  • In-memory storage provides 12-second boot time, near-instant application launches and desktop search results.
  • Because all desktops run on RAM, the amount of storage traffic sent on the network is drastically reduced.
  • Push-button automated installation, configuration, sizing and datastore creation for thousands of virtual desktops across multiple racks of servers.
  • Virtual machines are automatically created and registered as NFS data stores that are ready to use by Citrix XenDesktop or VMware View provisioning tools, or by ILIO Fast Clone, to complete the desktop provisioning process.
  • ILIO Fast Clone can create new full clones of persistent virtual desktops in as little as 5 seconds per desktop and with no storage traffic.
  • The technology involves context-aware processing of IO operations in real-time at the NTFS file system and block levels to reduce the amount of traffic sent to storage.

    On the wire inline deduplication in real-time, eliminating up to 95 percent of the blocks before reaching storage is also another feature, as is compressing the optimized blocks before writing them to memory.

    Atlantis claims it has more than 200 clients who have bought a quarter of a million licenses, more than 100,000 in 2012 alone. It said it tripled the number of customers in 2012 and quadrupled its bookings over two years.

    Deployments range from 25 users to 100,000 users across all verticals, particularly hospitals, government agencies and investment banking.

    Customers include JP Morgan-Chase, Colt in Europe, Mid Coast Hospital, Washington Trust Bank, Hawaii Medical Services Association, AIG and Qualcomm.

    In other IT and server virtualisation news

    It's no secret anymore that PCIe flash card vendors are falling all over each other in an effort to grab as much market share as they possibly can. But there's simply too many of them for a commoditizing hardware business, and they might even be shooting themselves in the foot while they are fighting with each other.

    At last count, there are no less than fifteen suppliers of PCIe flash cards-- small hardware devices that tightly couple a whole slew of non-volatile NAND storage to a server's backbone: EMC, Fusion-io, IBM-TMS, Intel, LSI, Micron, OCZ, OWC, Samsung, SanDisk, Seagate-Virident, STEC, SuperTalent, Toshiba, Violin Memory and Virident.

    This can't last for much longer. As with the development of the disk drive industry, the winners will be those with flash foundry connections, good software and a strong distribution channel.

    And additional software that is specialized is also needed to make full utilization of that close coupling of flash and of RAM cache.

    Once the server retrofitting marketplace settles down from its initial rush, PCIe flash will surely become a standard part of every server and the suppliers' distribution channels. That means the market power will lie with the flash foundry operators as they lock up the system manufacturers' channels.

    A software angle could be the link between server PCIe flash and backend arrays, be they all-flash or hybrid flash-and-disk. This will surely become an absolute necessity for standalone storage suppliers such as EMC and NetApp.

    Here is a quick-and-dirty rundown of PCIe flash card suppliers and their alliances:

  • EMC - a potential powerhouse but it must link its software to backend arrays as soon as possible or server makers could freeze it out.
  • Fusion-io - software is the key and Fusion-io already knows this.
  • IBM-TMS - we're still waiting for IBM to add TMS flash to its servers and get busy on software driver front.
  • Intel-Micron - it owns foundries, has distribution channels and it's getting software.
  • LSI - no foundry link-up but potentially has a good distribution channel although it needs software.
  • OCZ - no foundry link-up and in crisis.
  • Samsung - can sell PCIe flash on the back of memory and flash chips to system manufacturers so it's potentially strong - but it needs software.
  • Seagate-Virident - needs a flash foundry tie-up and that could be Samsung.
  • STEC - its high-flying SSD business stalled, although it's now recovering, but it has no foundry tie-up so question marks remain.
  • Toshiba-SanDisk-Violin - a potential powerhouse.
  • There are five companies in the list above that seem better placed than the others, and the others better get big, find a niche or get out while they still can.

    In other IT and server news

    EMC says it has lost about $500 million dollars on its VCE joint venture, the converged server-storage-networking business it founded with Cisco, VMware and Intel four years ago.

    VCE makes vBlocks, bundled Cisco servers and network switches, EMC storage and VMware's hypervisor, which are packaged as single systems instead of four separate components, thus being much easier to buy, install and operate than equivalent systems built from separate components.

    Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers has been looking at an EMC 10-K SEC filing for 2012 and writes: "EMC has invested a cumulative $676.1 million in the VCE joint venture since its inception in 2009, as well as $13.9 million in stock-based compensation, totalling about $690 million. EMC continues to own 58 percent of VCE’s outstanding equity. EMC’s consolidated share of losses was approximately 63.2 percent in 2012 (vs. ~63.2 percent 2011 and 58 percent in 2011). EMC’s accumulated net losses from VCE have totalled $498.2 million."

    That's near enough $500 million dollars. As for VCE as a whole, Rakers writes: "This would imply total VCE losses at approximately $387.5 million in 2012, up from $331 million implied total VCE losses in 2011."

    He added that EMC recognized about $285.8 million in total sales from products and services to VCE in 2012 (vs. $133.9M in 2011). EMC and Cisco recently announced that the VCE partnership has reached $1 billion in annualized demand.

    Source: Atlantis Computing.

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