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VMware Buys Virsto. Is it About Storage Hypervisors?

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Yesterday VMware announced that it is acquiring the IO performance optimization and acceleration software vendor Virsto for an undisclosed amount.

Some may know Virsto due to their latching and jumping onto the Storage Hypervisor bandwagon as part of storage virtualization and virtual storage. On the other hand, some may know Virsto for their software that plugs into server virtualization Hypervisor such as VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V. Then there are all of those who either did not or still don’t know of Virsto or their solutions yet they need to learn about it.

Unlike virtual storage arrays (VSAa), or virtual storage appliances, or storage virtualization software that aggregates storage, the Virsto software address the IO performance aggravation caused by aggregation.

Keep in mind that the best IO is the IO that you do not have to do. The second best IO is the one that has the least impact and that is cost effective. A common approach, or preached best practice by some vendors server virtualization and virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) that result in IO bottlenecks is to throw more SSD or HDD hardware at the problem.

VMware Buys Virsto. Is it About Storage Hypervisors? image LocalityOfReference

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Turns out that the problem with virtual machines (VMs) is not just aggregation (consolidation) causing aggravation, its also the mess of mixed applications and IO profiles. That is where IO optimization and acceleration tools come into play that are plugged into applications, file systems, operating systems, hypervisors or storage appliances.

In the case of Virsto (read more about their solution here), their technology plugs into the hypervisor (e.g. VMware vSphere/ESX or Hyper-V) to group and optimize IO operations.

By using SSD as a persistent cache, tools such as Virsto can help make better use of underlying storage systems including HDD and SSD, while also removing the aggravation as a result of aggregation.

What will be interesting to watch is to see if VMware continues to support other hypervisors such as Microsoft Hyper-V or close the technology to VMware only.

It will also be interesting to see how VMware and their parent EMC can leverage Virsto technology to complement virtual SANs as well as VSAs and underlying hardware from VFcache to storage arrays with SSD and SSD appliances as opposed to compete with them.

With the Virsto technology now part of VMware, hopefully there will be less time on talking about storage hypervisors and more around server IO optimization and enablement to create broader awareness for the technology.

Congratulations to VMware (and EMC) along with Virsto.

Comments on this Article: 2

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  1. CW says:

    This article isn’t even remotely close to accurate. Virsto is basically a cache. It’s yet another layer of indirection that sits between the file system and the virtual disk. This sounds like a fairly terrible idea. Debugging performance issues should be more difficult and this sounds like another random move by VMware which doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing anymore.

  2. @CW thanks for the comments and perspectives, would like to hear more.

    Please articulate why “This article isn’t even remotely close to accurate”.

    Is there something factually wrong in the main post, or is it something in one of the links and if so which one?

    You mention that “Debugging performance issues should be more difficult”, what do you mean by this?

    Shouldn’t debugging of performance be easier and tools or plugins to help address or mitigate performance woes be a good thing that is unless they add more complexity or problems themselves?

    As a former performance and capacity planning analyst (still dabble in it), I am interested in hearing your perspectives on this.

    You mention seeing virsto as a cache or layer between file system and virtual disk; I concur which should be in the post above along in the links (other than the VMware and Virsto links that I point to for background and their perspectives).

    I’m interested to hear what is not accurate, as well as hearing more about why you think it (doing what virsto is doing is bad) or why VMware doesn’t seem to know what they are doing.

    Cheers gs @storageio
    Greg Schulz

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