VMware Snaps Up Virsto for Software Defined Storage

Posted on February 12, 2013 By Pedro Hernandez

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VMware, already synonymous with virtualization and making big strides in the cloud arena, is now eyeing the storage piece of the software defined data center puzzle. The company, an EMC subsidiary, announced that it is acquiring Sunnyvale, Calif.-based virtual storage specialist Virsto. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Virsto's value -- and the reason why VMware is interested -- becomes obvious with a quick survey of the data center landscape. IT infrastructures are increasingly being categorized as virtualized and software defined, oftentimes both.

These attributes are inherent to Virsto's software defined storage and optimization platform, according to VMware. In a press announcement, the VMware noted that in heavily virtualized IT setups, Virsto's Storage Hypervisor technology "provides breakthrough storage optimization technologies that improve storage performance and utilization in these environments."

By Virsto's estimates, its software can provide up to a 10x improvement in capacity utilization from existing storage hardware and 10x boost in virtual machine (VM) performance. It currently supports both VMware ESX/ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V environments.

The cost savings can be significant, particularly with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments. "When implemented within a VDI, Virsto can reduce the cost of storage per desktop by as much as 70 percent," said VMware. Virsto reports an up to 10x reduction in associated operating expenditures and the ability to provision VMs in seconds rather than 20 minutes.

According to VMware's vice president of Storage and Availability, John Gilmartin, Virsto's tech addresses some major pain points for IT managers.

"Our customers have told us that managing performance and data services for virtual machines can be challenging, especially in I/O-intensive environments like virtual desktops. Virsto has developed a VM-centric storage management model that accelerates I/O performance for any block-based storage system while providing efficient data services like VM snapshots and clones," stated Gilmartin in a blog post.

Gilmartin also revealed what VMware has in store for Virsto's innovations. In the short term, the company isn't planning any drastic changes.

"First, we'll continue to offer Virsto's standalone virtual appliance to help accelerate storage performance and improve efficiency in VMware vSphere environments. This means we'll continue to support existing Virsto customers while also introducing Virsto's capabilities to new users," informed Gilmartin.

Inevitably, Virsto's technology will spread to VMware's other offerings. "Second, we're planning to integrate Virsto's architecture and data management services into future VMware products," added Gilmartin.

The buy fits VMware's strategy of seeking opportunities beyond its bread-and-butter server virtualization business, according to ISI analysts Brian Marshall and Stephen Patel. "We view this acquisition as helping VMW [VMware] move towards its vision of the software-defined datacenter, starting with core server virtualization and increasingly providing solutions for storage and network virtualization as well," they wrote in a research note.

Gilmartin echoed the sentiment. "As the datacenter undergoes a fundamental transformation, new opportunities and innovation are emerging across every technology category. Defining a new approach to storage will be a foundational element of the software-defined datacenter, and VMware is excited to help drive this transformation in partnership with our storage ecosystem," he stated.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.


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