by Mark May

EMC XtremIO Version 2.4 Hits GA

EMC has announced the general availability of version 2.4 of its all flash array (AFA), XtremIO. XtremIO is an all-flash storage array which is purpose built to deliver on the full potential of flash with all the array-based capabilities required of a mature storage platform. Until now EMC has done a great job with the performance aspects of XtremIO but has lagged behind in some of the array-based capabilities. This new version looks to remedy that problem.

Version 2.4.0-25 now supports instantaneous point in time copy images, or snapshots, of XtremIO storage volumes. The snapshot captures data exactly as it exists upon creation in a space-efficient manner. This data can then be accessed in a read-write manner without impacting or altering the source volume. Changes made to the source do not change the data on the snapshot. When a snapshot is created the system generates a pointer based ancestor metadata. This allows for two things: space-efficiency and performance neutral snapshot creation. XtremIO leverages the Inline Data Reduction nature of the array to allow for a space-efficient redirect-on-write snapshot. This allows snapshot capacity to only be consumed when data is written which requires a new block. This snapshot feature has a huge range of use cases including data protection, backup and live secondary copies.

Also added is support for DARE or Data at Rest Encryption using Self Encrypting Drives if the hardware supports it. This can be enabled without data loss on an existing array. When enabled the SSD drive generates a key which never leaves the drive. The array creates a PIN which is used to lock or unlock the encryption. During system start this PIN is used to unlock the drive. In the event a drive is removed from the system it will be locked in order to protect data. This version has also brings changes the default passwords for new installation only in addition to support of public-keys for direct CLI access.

Several enhancements have been made to EMC XtremIO’s iSCSI support. It is now possible to configure iSCSI ports MTU up to 9216b. iSCSI initiators and targets now have the ability to prove identify using CHAP for added security. It’s also now possible to use a non-default TCP port for iSCSI interfaces. This must be done for the entire cluster and requires services to be stopped. The last iSCSI change is called Single Point Discovery. This allows an iSCSI initiator connected to a single target to discover the additional cluster iSCSI targets without a connection to them.

Version 2.4 adds some basic features I believe are required for any modern storage array. First is the online expansion of a volume. No longer do you have to un-map the volume from the host or perform a data migration effort. XtremIO now supports RESTful API for management operations allowing for better integration with management tools. This allows for array management via GUI, CLI, and API. Also support now is AIX using PowerPath 5.7 SP1.

The XtremIO platform still has its limitation of four X-Bricks per cluster and requires a single management station per cluster. Some vendors like to point out this limitation, but I’ve never seen this as a limiting factor for XtremIO adoption. Version 2.4 has a higher maximum number of initiators and increased volume count limitation. All in all this versions bring about some exciting changes and in the end the much anticipated arrival of snapshotting should be a huge win for XtremIO customers.

About the Author

Mark May is a storage engineer in Cincinnati, OH.  He has worked in Enterprise Storage and Backup for over 15 years. He is an EMC Elect, Cisco Champion, and avid technologist. In his free time he likes to help others understand the ins and outs of the ever changing storage industry. He can be found online in a variety of places, but the two most likely are his personal blog and twitter @cincystorage.

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