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Virsto Shrinks Virtual Storage

Any day now, storage managers should get happier - a lot happier. Virsto Software is due to ship Virsto One, the first hypervisor-based storage solution that aims at reducing the size of VMs while improving their performance. This implies a lot of things, one of which is that it will radically shrink the size of VMs by 80 or 90 percent. For an IT organization swamped in VMs, that can only be a good thing.

Most data storage technologies deployed with virtual servers today were not designed  specifically for server virtualization, but were based on assumptions true for physical servers. Today's virtualized environment exposes several critical challenges for IT. For one, virtual machine (VM) sprawl can consume 30 percent or more storage than physical servers. What's more, storage performance problems can reduce server I/O throughput by up to 80 percent. An increase in storage management complexity leads to increases in administrative headcount and application performance issues and ultimately to excessive storage capital and operating costs.

Virsto claims to tackle each of these problems. Virsto One drastically reduces the complexity of storage for virtual servers and delivers innovation and benefits by reducing storage sprawl by cutting VM image space consumption by up to 90 percent, according to the vendor, through unlimited high-performance, thin provisioned, VM-optimized snapshots and clones. It also simplifies storage management, enabling quick, simple automatic VM storage provisioning, instantaneous clone creation and off-host snapshot backup.

Virsto One also increases storage performance, providing VM-optimized flow control to eliminate the performance-sapping I/O blender, potentially more than doubling I/O rates and eliminates excessive storage costs and improving the economics of virtualization by reducing the number of terabytes and disk spindles required for VM application support. This enables the use of low-cost commodity storage hardware and reduces the operating expense of VM storage management.

Virsto's move is a smart one. Organizations are creating VMs faster than they know what to do with them, and any move to reduce the size of those VMs should be welcomed by storage managers. With that said, organizations will want to keep an eye on Virsto's performance claims, particularly as they deploy I/O heavy applications, such as Exchange. With Virsto One, I/O requests are ordered so that there are fewer disk reads. In theory, fewer disk reads should dramatically improve subsystem performance. Makes sense. Of course, introducing any layer in the I/O subsystem could have adverse effects if not properly designed. How the software works in practice remains to be seen. Virsto One is available now, and pricing is set for $1,250 per
physical server.