Virsto offers storage virtualization for Hyper-V and vSphere

Virsto is using the confusing name "storage hypervisor" for its storage virtualization technology. Although the messages are confusing, the technology appears very useful and worthy of consideration.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Gregg Holzrichter, Virsto’s VP of marketing, came by to introduce his company's storage virtualization software that was designed to improve the overall performance, flexibility and agility of Microsoft's Hyper-V and VMware's vSphere environments. While Virsto is offering some interesting and quite useful technology, once again, we ended up in a debate over the catch phrase "storage hypervisor."

Here's what Virsto says about the features of Virsto for vSphere and Virsto for Hyper-V

Virsto for vSphere Delivers:

  • A non-disruptive, 100 percent software solution that installs as a virtual storage appliance (VSA), enabling storage optimization with any existing block-level storage
  • Seamless integration into existing VM management and provisioning workflows through VMware vCenter and View Manager
  • Virsto RapidSnaps: the industry’s most scalable, highest-performance snapshots and writable clones, delivering unprecedented rapid provisioning and granular backup and recovery
  • Native support for vSphere 4.1
  • Integrated Rapid Provisioning Wizards for VMware View 4.5
  • Support for all block-based and SSD storage
  • Storage quality of service (QoS) tiering for ultimate flexibility and cost management
  • Advanced yet easy-to-use storage management features including VM storage self-provisioning, automated storage space reclamation and thin provisioning

Virsto for Virtual Servers, Hyper-v Edition, 2.0 Delivers:

  • A non-disruptive, 100 percent software solution that installs in the Hyper-V Parent Partition, enabling storage optimization with any block-level storage
  • Native support for Hyper-V and Microsoft Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • Seamless integration with Microsoft DPM and VSS for backup and recovery
  • Virsto Global Image Snapshot: complete Virsto environment snapshot for offsite backup
  • Storage QoS tiering for ultimate flexibility and cost management
  • Bulk virtual machine provisioning wizards for test and development, database and private cloud virtualization use cases

Snapshot analysis

One of my constant reminders to Kusnetzky Group clients is that virtual processing solutions, such as the use of virtual machine software to create virtual client or virtual server systems, can offer quite a number of benefits, but that technology is best utilized in a comprehensive virtualization platform that includes the use of access virtualization, application virtualization, storage virtualization, network virtualization and a comprehensive management and security environment. Deploying only one of these technologies may directly address a single point problem. Creating a complete virtualization platform means the organization is getting the maximum in agility and optimization of its IT resources.

Virsto is one of a number of suppliers that is offering storage virtualization technology that is designed to make the organization's storage as agile and manageable as its virtual clients and virtual servers. Virsto's products work closely with two of the industry's most popular virtual machine software platforms. At this point, the company is not offering support for either Citrix's XenServer or Red Hat's KVM platforms. It makes sense, however that Virsto had to start somewhere and the two platforms they did select, VMwares vSphere and Microsoft's Hyper-V, are popular in Virsto's target audience.

Putting Virsto's technology aside for a moment, I object to the company's insistence on a marketing catch phrase that appears designed to confuse potential customers.

Nearly every definition I've seen of a hypervisor or virtual machine manager defines it as a layer of software that allows multiple independent workloads, each supported by its own operating system, to execute on a single physical host. What Virsto is offering is storage virtualization technology that creates a much more flexible and agile storage environment. While helpful, it is not creating independent workloads each supported by its own operating system.

That being said, Virtso's products do make it much easier to make the storage resources as agile as the virtual machines making use of that storage. The products make the storage much easier to allocate and manage. Those embarking on a journey to a more virtualized industry standard system environment would be well advised to learn more about what Virsto is doing even if the company is using confusing marketing messages.

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