Proximal Data - tackling the virtual server I/O problem

Proximal Data believes that inserting intelligent caching directly into the virtual machine software is a better answer than adding general purpose caching or solid state storage devices to the storage servers.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Proximal Data's CEO, Rory Bolt, and VP of sales and business development, Rich Pappas stopped by to introduce the company, discuss the company's product, AutoCache and discuss how optiizing physical system storage I/O can improve virtual machine performance dramatically.

Proximal Data

Proximal Data was founded to address three trends:

  • Server virtualization (e.g. the use of virtual machine software to create virtual servers) is becoming pervasive. Its use is likely to increase as organizations need to increase their levels of efficiency and reduce their overall costs.
  • Flash storage is a fundimental change to enterprise storage architectures and will see increasing use.
  • IT budgets are constrained and it is unlikely that will change any time in the near future.

The company has addressed itself to these trends.

Proximal Data's AutoCache

Proximal Data's first product, AutoCache, is software designed to use flash PCIe cards or solid state drives (SSDs) to optimize storage performance for virtual servers. This software technology is designed to integrate into a VMware vSphere/vCenter environment and allow physical systems to support two to three times the number of virtual servers.

The tight integration with VMware's software makes it possible for organizations to experience better performance without having to change applications, install agents inside of each virtual machine or have staff trained to use a new technology.

The software is installed as a standard VMware ESXi installation bundle (VIB) and is easy to deploy and maintain.

Snapshot analysis

I've spoken with well over 20 suppliers of storage virtualization technology over the past year. Each of them is offering flash or SSD-based products designed to improve the performance of storage. Some are focused on improving overall performance of storage housed in a SAN. Others are focused on improving transactional performance by improving the number of I/O operations a second and the throughput offered by storage systems. A few are addressing the same issue that Proximal Data is focused upon.

This means that Proximal Data must find a way to get through a noisy environment to make a case that the problem they solve is one the customer has. Then the company must help customers understand the differences between what, say Dell, EMC, HDS, HP, IBM, NetApp or a host of smaller companies are doing. Finally, Proximal Data must show them why their approach is better. After speaking with Rory and Rich, I believe that the company has the capability to do those very things.

Although this was not discussed, I expect that Proximal Data is likely to offer versions of their technology for Hyper-V, XenServer and KVM environments in the future.

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