Dataram's XcelaSAN Appliance Accelerates Storage Performance


The new XcelaSAN storage optimization appliance from Princeton, N.J.-based Dataram increases the performance of existing storage systems with intelligent caching algorithms and a 128-GB, high-speed cache memory to serve the most active block-level data from high-speed, solid-state storage.

The XcelaSAN is not a solid-state drive, said Jason Caulkins, Dataram's CTO. Instead, it includes software that accelerates the performance of an entire storage array, and not just the data stored on a single drive, letting customers reduce the number of storage arrays and storage devices.

There are several methods that can be used to increase storage performance, including tuning the storage infrastructure for performance, adding more storage arrays, adding more drives and cutting the capacity of each drive, and adding SSDs, Caulkins said. However, each method is expensive and time-consuming, and many feature diminishing returns over time.

"Our solid-state infrastructure lets customers get more done with a smaller infrastructure," he said. "We help cut the number of arrays and servers. We help relegate storage systems to storing data, to just serving as capacity. XcelaSAN handles the performance side."

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For example, a midsize customer might normally require eight storage arrays with 200 SAS drives in order to get its required level of performance while wasting much of that capacity, Caulkins said. With XcelaSAN, such a company could get away with one array with 25 SAS disks. "That array is just for capacity," he said. "The performance comes from the XcelaSAN."

Melillo Consulting, a Somerset, N.J.-based solution provider and an EMC and Hewlett-Packard partner, has already been testing the XcelaSAN, and is liking what it has seen so far.

Scott Hansen, sales manager for enterprise solutions for the VAR, said it has been testing the appliance with EMC Clariion and HP EVA arrays, and has seen a huge performance improvement, especially with the EVA, which is an older architecture.

Melillo already has customers waiting for the general release of the XcelaSAN, Hansen said. "Financial firms can see big performance increases, and can use smaller arrays than before and actually save money," he said.

Melillo has also tested EMC Clariion arrays with SSDs, and found it a way to increase performance. "But you have to assign the application to the drive," he said. "With Dataram, you can run all traffic through the appliance, or filter specific applications."

Melillo has worked with Dataram's memory technology for a couple of years, and spent about one year beta testing the XcelaSAN, Hansen said.

"As a channel partner, Dataram is excellent," he said. "They help us in a lot of cases to help customers save money, even before the economic downturn. XcelaSAN is an extension of what they already do."

Dataram has traditionally sold its memory products through a mix of direct and indirect sales, Caulkins said. However, with the XcelaSAN, it plans to be 100-percent channel-focused.

"We recognize this is a storage play," he said. "So we're bringing on VARs with a storage practice. With XcelaSAN, they have the opportunity to go to existing customers and show them where their existing storage pains are and how they can help."

The XcelaSAN is currently being rolled out in North America. It lists for $65,000.