Newcomer Virsto Unveils New Hypervisor-Based Storage Optimization

Virsto (the name comes from "virtual storage") wants to do for virtualized storage systems what the hypervisor did for servers: Make them more efficient, so they handle workloads faster and in a less-costly fashion.

SUNNYVALE, Calif.-Startup Virsto on Feb. 16 introduced both itself and a new brand of storage virtualization software, a product that the company promises will put much-needed law and order into willy-nilly data flow inside virtualized systems.
Data gets scrambled as if in a blender when it travels from servers through pipelines to a hypervisor and then into storage containers. Reassembling increasing amounts of data wears heavily on a conventional system because it takes extra time-and ultimately more cost-for unoptimized systems to straighten all the bits out and get them put back together so they can be used.
Virsto (the name comes from "virtual storage") wants to do for virtualized storage systems what the hypervisor did for servers: Make them more efficient, so they handle workloads faster and in a less-costly fashion.
The new company, founded by former Veritas and Sun Microsystems storage developers, claims to have the antidote for the blenderlike I/O ills that plague virtualized systems.
Delivered as a simple plug-in to a hypervisor, Virsto One, the company's first product, claims to do the following, according to CEO Mark Davis:

  • Reduces storage sprawl by cutting virtual machine (VM) image space consumption by up to 90 percent through unlimited high-performance, thin-provisioned, VM-optimized snapshots and clones.
  • Simplifies storage management by enabling quick, simple automatic VM storage provisioning, instantaneous clone creation and off-host snapshot backup.
  • Increases storage performance by providing VM-optimized flow control to eliminate the performance-sapping I/O blender, potentially more than doubling I/O rates.
  • Eliminates excessive storage costs by improving the economics of virtualization by reducing the number of terabytes and disk spindles required for VM application support, enabling use of low-cost commodity storage hardware, and reducing the operating expense of VM storage management.

Virsto One is delivered as a simple plug-in to Hyper-V, and offers a seamless user interface with PowerShell integration and standard Windows interfaces, Davis told eWEEK. It uses a 10MB agent in each node to tie the deployment together.
"The major IT vendors can offer you software and hardware to do this, for sure, but it's complicated. You need to round up all the right pieces, put them all together, test them-it can be time-consuming and expensive," Davis said. "Virsto can deliver the goods in one package and do it much less expensively."
Microsoft Hyper-V Is the First Deployment
Virsto One, the company's flagship software, will work with any major data center operating system-Windows, most flavors of Linux, Unix and Solaris, Davis said. It will eventually run on all major hypervisors, but for starters, Davis and his company decided to move first with Microsoft's Hyper-V. Virsto One for market leader VMware and XenServer will come next.
"We figured that no matter what, Hyper-V is going to end up with probably 30 percent of the market at some point, and we just decided to move with it first," Davis said. "Microsoft is very excited about this, and they've been very supportive."
Mark Bowker, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said that most enterprises are well past the "try it" stage of virtualization but that the technology still isn't truly mainstream yet.
"One of the biggest remaining obstacles is the imbalance between what server virtualization technologies enable and their associated I/O requirements," Bowker said. "Virsto was built to take on these challenges directly at the hypervisor-where the issues are created. This combination creates a much more complete and effective solution for the data center."
Virsto One will be generally available by the end of February, Davis said. Pricing is handled on a per-server socket basis. Hyper-V users may download a free 30-day evaluation at this site.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...