News: Virsto introduces new virtual storage options for VMware and Hyper-V

The virtual storage market is hotting up with Virsto Stoftware’s announcement of two new products for release Tuesday, January 17th.

Following on from its June 2011 acquisition of EvoStor and building on its existing Virsto for VDI platform, Silicon Valley-based Virsto Software has made good on its investment by announcing the release of Virsto for vSphere.

Virsto for vSphere

Hypervisor hosted workloads can create significant I/O challenges for storage system vendors. As the number of guest operating systems per hypervisor increases random I/O requests to create storage resource contention which degrades overall system performance. At the same time, operational changes brought about by the introduction of virtualization mean that operating system instances are created many times more frequently than physical servers might be deployed, which in turn leads to an increase in storage infrastructure workloads. Hypervisor hosted workloads can create significant I/O challenges for storage system vendors. As the number of guest operating systems per hypervisor increases simultaneous  I/O requests create storage resource contention this degrades storage system performance which in turn impacts the overall performance of the enitre virtual infrastructure. At the same time, operational changes brought about by the introduction of virtualization tends to result in a much more frequent provisioning process than in a purely physical server environment, which further increases storage infrastructure workloads.

VDI deployments are especially resource intensive with many, in some cases hundreds of virtual desktops per physical server, and with resource intensive virtual machine startup and shutdown activities being performed both frequently and simultaneously especially at the start of the working day creating particularly demanding storage characteristics. Under these circumstances meeting VDI’s IOPS demand becomes the single highest capital cost component of a VDI implementation. Virsto and others believe that the right place to optimize storage for virtual infrastructure is not on the SAN but locally on the server. By de-duplicating and sequencing IO requests locally, SAN IOPS loading is significantly reduced directly addressing the high cost of storage associated with VDI. Unsurprisingly many VDI customers have been early adopters of this technology recognizing its ability to reduce VDI IOPS loading and so bring costs down to acceptable levels.

Virsto for vSphere is a Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA), what Virsto call a Storage Hypervisor. Individual VSAs are deployed on each hypervisor as a dedicated virtual machine, where it presents external block-level storage to the hypervisor as an NFS datastore.

Preliminary testing of Virsto for vSphere using IOmeter and shows that it it can increase IOPS performance and throughput approximately 9 times, creating the opportunity for a similar reduction in storage requirements. In testing with 4K blocks, 50% Reads, 100% Random, 64 threads, the baseline environments showed total IOPS of 340 with a throughput of 1.33 Mb per second. With Virsto for vSphere enabled, that jumped to 3300 IOPS and 13 Mb per second. At the same time average I/O response time dropped from 25 ms to 19 milliseconds and server CPU utilization fell from 56% to 7%.

Virsto for vSphere delivered an almost 10x IOPS gain and at the same time reduced the CPU overhead due to the optimization algorithms that Virsto deploys for mapping each virtual machine’s I/O. The Virtual Storage Appliance architecture is immensely scalable and predictable, as each physical host that is added to the environment with additional desktop images relies on the host CPU for processing and data placement, maintaining the same high performance regardless of the size of the VDI environment.

Virsto for vSphere includes:

  • Native support for vSphere 4.1
  • Seamless integration into existing VM management and provisioning workflows through VMware vCenter and View Manager
  • Virsto RapidSnaps: the industry’s most scalable, highest-performance snapshots and writable clones, delivering unprecedented rapid provisioning and granular backup and recovery
  • Integrated Rapid Provisioning Wizards for VMware View (support for Citrix XenDesktop will be delivered in a later release)
  • Support for all block-based and SSD storage
  • Software based tiering with support for up to four storage tiers from high-performance SSD to cloud storage
  • Advanced yet easy-to-use storage management features including VM storage self-provisioning, automated storage space reclamation and thin provisioning

 Virsto for Hyper-V 2.0

Almost 2 years after releasing Virsto One its first Storage Hypervisor product for Microsoft Windows Hyper-V which was subsequently extended to include a new product line called Virsto for VDI launched in April of 2011, Virsto has returned to its roots with Virsto for Hyper-V 2.0. Following Virsto’s standard practice, Virsto for Hyper-V 2.0 is an all software solution that installs in the Hyper-V Parent partition and supports storage optimization with any existing block-level storage.

  • Native support for Hyper-V and Microsoft Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • Seamless integration with Microsoft DPM and VSS for backup and recovery
  • Virsto Global Image Snapshot: complete Virsto Environment Snapshot for offsite backup
  • Software based tiering: support for up to four storage tiers from SSD to cloud
  • Bulk virtual machine provisioning wizards for test and development, database and private cloud virtualization use cases

Testing data for Virsto for Hyper-V 2.0, is not currently available.

Although not specifically targeted at the SMB market, Virsto for Hyper-V 2.0 is likely to be viewed favorably here, where its simple nondisruptive installation and ease of use will mask potential storage complexities from that experienced IT support staff who may struggle with some more complex aspects of managing a virtual storage infrastructure and may otherwise find themselves unable to fully realize the benefits of any either server, storage, or desktop virtualization.

Simon Bramfitt (118 Posts)

Simon is an independent industry analyst covering enterprise desktop, mobile and application virtualization, delivery and management technologies. He is an experienced solutions architect with unmatched insight into the challenges of designing large (200,000 seat plus) high availability presentation and desktop virtualization systems. Simon was invited to join the Citrix Technology Professionals (CTP) group in May 2010 and joined the Virtualization Practice in September 2010

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