Virtual Instruments, a spinoff of Finisar, makes SAN and virtual infrastructure optimization software called SANInsight and VirtualWisdom. These data storage products provide deep monitoring and analysis of how virtualized IT infrastructures and SANs affect business-critical application performance.
Three months after taking over leadership of storage optimization startup Virtual Instruments,
CEO John Thompson-for 9 years CEO of Symantec-has mapped out the path his company is going to be taking for the next few years.
As virtualization continues to become more prominent in IT production
systems, Thompson also knows he's charting a passage through some very
Most of the major IT systems providers already have some kind of
virtualized-storage capacity monitoring feature, and a flock of newbies like VI
are also coming into the battle-many with impressive products.
VI, a spinoff of Finisar, makes SAN (storage
area network) and virtual infrastructure optimization software called
SANInsight and VirtualWisdom. These products provide deep monitoring and
analysis of how virtualized IT infrastructures and SANs affect
business-critical application performance.
VI recently rolled out Version 2 of VirtualWisdom. Key new capabilities include
a widget-based dashboard for custom views; user-defined correlations for
"what if" modeling; ProbeVM for VMware optimization; enhanced
stability, performance and scalability; and license management.
The company's middleware for Fibre Channel SANs is designed to reduce application
response time, increase availability and improve resource utilization.
Despite being only two years old, VI has an impressive list of clients that
includes Kaiser Permanente, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Lloyd's Banking,
Verizon, U.S. Cellular, eBay, Hewlett-Packard and Qualcomm, to name a few.
"I am convinced there will be a [new market] category that will be spawned
from virtualization," Thompson told eWEEK. "Primarily because many of
the companies that are pushing the envelope on virtualization were doing so
because they had a new method [with which] to do capacity planning. Whereas, in
the past, they would capacity-plan to buy the server and buy the storage array.
Now all of a sudden they can do capacity planning overnight."
This will spawn some new problems for virtualized systems, Thompson said,
involving performance management, availability management and optimization of
"That's where our company comes into play," Thompson said. "We
started [out of Finisar] with a strong focus on the SAN,
to make sure it is performing well. The reality is that in a virtual
environment, the blind spot for almost every systems management
vendor-including the management technologies of VMware-is what's happening in
the I/O arena."
Instrumentation becoming more important
Most companies do not have the right instrumentation to give them adequate
insight into storage data movement, Thompson said. Bottlenecks are common,
especially at the disk array level.
"Therein lies the opportunity for Virtual Instruments. We provide the
instrumentation to give you much, much better visibility, such that you can
optimize performance, availability, capacity-and improve the economics of
running that virtual infrastructure," Thompson said.
Thompson on May 6 replaced Mark Urdahl, who was VI's founding CEO
in 2008. Urdahl, a major stockholder, stayed on as a member of the company's
board of directors.
Thompson joined Virtual Instruments as an investor and board member in 2009.
During his tenure as CEO of Symantec,
revenues grew from $600 million to more than $6 billion per year. Prior to that
time, Thompson spent 25 years at IBM in a
number of senior sales and marketing management positions. He was serving as
general manager of IBM Americas when he
moved to Symantec in 1998.
Thompson is known for more than being a company executive. Immediately after
announcing his retirement as Symantec's CEO
in November 2008, he became widely regarded as a leading candidate to be
President Obama's first secretary of labor, a job that ultimately went to
then-Rep. Hilda Solis.
In September 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Thompson to the National
Infrastructure Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations regarding the
security of the critical infrastructure of the United
In addition, Thompson has served as the chair of the Silicon Valley Blue Ribbon
Task Force on Aviation Security and Technology to identify and evaluate
technology-driven solutions to improve the security and efficiency of national
and local aviation.