Virsto is relevant to our discussion on the development of storage hypervisors and how they can make you a rainmaker. Its software-only approach goes beyond merely allowing the attachment of multi-vendor arrays, as in IBM’s SVC.

Offerings cover specific server virtualisation and VDI environments

Virsto produces software tuned in two dimensions – it has split its offerings into server virtualisation and VDI versions, as well as addressing each server hypervisor environment separately. Users therefore need to think of its offerings as enhancements to their virtualised server or desktop environment, rather than a new separated layer in their IT infrastructure.

Through associating variable (rather than static) amounts of storage with each Virtual Machine (VM) it increases utilisation, reducing costs in addition to those from being able to attach arrays from multiple vendors.

Although the close association with specific server hypervisor environments gives storage hypervising a subservient role in Virsto’s approach, we need to remember that server hypervisors themselves are impossible to separate from their host operating systems and irrelevant without their associated guest ones. Virtualisation is by its very nature an integration of many components.

Many users tried and failed to introduce VDI in the past (as many as 5k in the UK alone) due to technical difficulties in handling things such as Microsoft Active Directory, and/or pst files. In addition while successful VDI deployments improved security, patch management and access control, they didn’t save you money.

Virsto’s has a handful of good reference customer such as Houghton Mifflin and Flextronics today. It has good prospects if it can demonstrate easy integration and substatial cost savings. However as a small vendor it needs to invest in getting its message across – a more challenging position than its larger competitors.

Evaluating Virsto as a Storage Hypervisor vendor

  • Heterogeneous array attachment – its software allows arrays from any vendor to be used in its virtualised environment
  • Common server hypervisor attachment* – it has server virtualisation and VDI products for Hyper-V, VMware ESX today and plans to include Citrix XenServer in 2012
  • Hardware/software market approach – this is a pure software-only approach
  • Supplier power/breadth – it is a small vendor with just 40 employees and $25 million investment; however its messaged will be amplified by word of mouth if it can demonstrate ease of implementation and strong cost savings

Notes: *it may be confusing, however it looks likely that all storage hypervisors will need to be fitted into the management software associated with specific server hypervisors and their virtual environments

Storage hypervisors have relevance to our virtualisation, data intelligence, resource efficiency and go-to-market themes. The suppliers pursuing the concept are undoubtedly rainmakers if they succeed in bringing the kinds of advantages VMware has delivered in the server market.

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