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Virsto upgrades storage management software for Microsoft Hyper-V

Dave Raffo, Senior News Director

Virsto Software, which targets its storage management software at Microsoft Hyper-V environments,

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today upgraded its Virsto One product with greater support for Microsoft applications.

Virsto One 1.2 supports Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 (Microsoft DPM 2010), Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 (SCVMM 2008) and Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). It also works with the Hyper-V Dynamic Memory feature in the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1.

Virsto launched Virsto One in February, claiming it could relieve storage bottlenecks caused by hypervisors feeding multiple I/O streams from guests to disk systems. Virsto CEO Mark Davis said Virsto One 1.2 can triple I/O performance, reduce virtual machine (VM) storage consumption by 90% and provision virtual hard disk (VHD) clones in less than a second.

Davis said Virsto eventually plans to support VMware and other hypervisor platforms, but for now is aimed solely at Hyper-V. "Our goal is to provide primary storage management for virtual server environments," he said. "Right now, Hyper-V is what we do and we've done some things to get closer to Microsoft."

Rob McShinsky, a Virsto One customer and senior systems engineer at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., said it's essential for Virsto to stay close to Microsoft and support its latest releases.

McShinsky said Virsto One helps him improve I/O performance and he's pleased to see broadened support for Microsoft features, particularly Microsoft DPM.

"Virsto didn't have support for DPM or VSS, and didn't have a lot of integration with VMs as far as the provisioning side," he said. "Adding DPM support was critical for them. At the very least, I need to insure that I can recover all of my data. I don't want to be losing patient data."

McShinsky has been using Hyper-V since 2007 (and Microsoft Virtual Server since 2005). He said he has been using Virsto One for around four months to improve provisioning and disk I/O utilization. He said Virsto One has enabled him to mitigate the performance hit when using Hyper-V's dynamic Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) feature.

"Dynamic disk is a way to keep disk storage utilization down, but you [give up] a lot of performance," he said. "If you want to get the most I/O out of your disks for production servers that hasn't been the way to go. But we haven't lost any performance when we use dynamic disk [with Virsto], so we're keeping disk utilization down and keeping disk I/O to the level we normally get with fixed disk."

Virsto bucks VMware bandwagon

Virsto Software is going against the grain in a virtual server world still dominated by Hyper-V's rival VMware. The firm's Davis said he's looking to get a foothold on the Microsoft Hyper-V market and hopes it takes off.

"Being the 76th vendor to announce a VMware product would make it harder for us to get started than to be the first vendor to work with Hyper-V," he said. "It's hard to get a lot of mindshare out of VMware when you're a small company."

Henry Baltazar, a senior analyst at The 451 Group, and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center's McShinsky agree that addressing the Hyper-V market early could pay off for Virsto Software.

"Hyper-V is still a developing market, but you can't count Microsoft out forever," Baltazar said.

"We've chosen Hyper-V for better or worse, and we're happy with it," McShinsky said. "Virsto was right down our alley as a way to support Hyper-V at low cost."

Baltazar said Virsto is more likely to find acceptance among smaller companies. That's where Hyper-V is often found, and those organizations will look to keep storage costs down when they virtualize servers.

"Virsto is trying to make commodity software faster through virtualization," he said. "A lot of Virsto's pitch is 'Don't buy expensive storage, use our stuff instead to boost commodity storage.' On the higher end of the market, people are still going to buy high-performance RAID systems and things like that because that's what they're used to."

Virsto One is priced at $1,250 per two-socket physical server and $2,500 per four-socket server.