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Virsto Virtualizes Storage I/O For Virtual Machines

Back in February of this year, Virsto launched their "Virsto One"
storage virtualization software product. Much was written about Virsto
at that time, and they were covered here on Network Computing.
I had the unique opportunity to sit down and talk with Mark Davis, CEO
of Virsto, in San Francisco this week while we were both in town for
VMworld. Virsto is virtualizing storage in Microsoft Hyper-V based
environments. A key question for Mark was why release storage
virtualization in the Hyper-V space first before addressing the VMware

Virsto was founded in 2007 by a group of virtualization and storage savvy folks.  They understand storage and they understand the I/O blender effect caused by a number of virtual machines running on a physical server and the application performance down-side effects of increasing storage I/O latency as virtual machines scale up.  The company has developed a pure software approach to storage virtualization and actually improves storage I/O performance after installation of their product.

Initially, I was skeptical of the company's claim of increased I/O performance, and so I asked Mark to explain to me how another layer of software in the stack was actually going to enable better storage I/O performance. "Our unique methodology for intelligently assembling data that must be written out to disk actually results in much faster write performance vs. a tremendous number of random writes which suffer from disk delays and cumulatively result in application performance problems," he explained. It makes sense: Virsto's software intelligently gathers write I/Os and sends them off to be logged sequentially on disk, and this happens much faster then the time it takes for the equivalent data to be written randomly.

The approach is sound and "beta customers and our customers installed since general availability in February have proven the software and the performance increases," Mark said. In fact, Roger Johnson, enterprise team leader from Crutchfield confirms performance benefits by stating, "One of the biggest benefits is the increase in performance."

Performance isn't the only attribute that Virsto One brings to the table.  Virsto claims to be able to reduce storage sprawl, simplify storage management, and greatly reduce excessive storage costs. Via thin provisioning and virtual machine optimized snapshots and clones, the Virsto One software reduces storage space consumption by around 90 percent.  Storage management is made easier by enabling rapid and thinly provisioned VMs and simple creations of snapshots and clones.  

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