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Pivot3, GreenBytes launch VDI storage systems

Pivot3 and GreenBytes address unique requirements of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) storage with new iSCSI SANs.

Pivot3 and GreenBytes today extended their iSCSI SAN product lines with systems optimized for VDI storage.  

Pivot3 rolled out its vStac VDI appliance, which the vendor claims can handle as many as 115 virtual desktops per box. GreenBytes launched its HA-3000 iSCSI SAN appliance with inline deduplication. The appliance is designed primarily—although not solely—as storage for a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

John Webster, senior partner for the Evaluator Group analyst firm, said there is a demand for these types of systems because VDI storage requirements are often different from those of the mainstream.

“VDI can be tricky sometimes, especially when it comes to storage,” he said. “You need to understand that you are optimizing the storage for I/Os as opposed to bandwidth because it really is an I/O-intensive environment. If you don’t get it right, you have poor performance and the user experience is terrible.”

Pivot3 expands from surveillance market

Pivot3’s vStac VDI appliances use the same operating system as Pivot3’s vStac product that combines storage and compute and is used primarily for video surveillance. But while the surveillance system is optimized for bandwidth, the VDI system is optimized for high IOPS. Pivot3 sees the vStac VDI system as an alternative to using blade servers plus a SAN or NAS.

Each 2U vStac VDI appliance is built on a standard x86 server and contains 3 TB of SAS disk storage, 128 GB of RAM and 200 GB of solid-state drives (SSDs). At least 50 GB of the SSD capacity are used for write cache, while the other 150 GB are used to serve up the VDI golden image. Each appliance comes with dual six-core Westmere CPUs and 16 GB of SATA disk on memory (DOM). The appliances are preconfigured with VMware vSphere. Customers can cluster as many as eight vStac VDI devices.

To help customers get set up for VDI storage, the startup is offering a Pivot3 Production Pilot (P3) bundle, which includes a Pivot3 vStac for VDI appliance preconfigured with VMware View and vCenter, as well as Windows Server 2008 including Active Directory.

“It’s the seed appliance in an array,” Pivot3 Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Thierry said. “You are getting a VDI out of the box.”

Pricing for the vStac VDI appliances starts at $350 per desktop. The appliances will be available next month.

GreenBytes goes beyond SMBs

The GreenBytes HA-3000 is a dual-controller version of the GB-X series that the startup started shipping two years ago for the SMB market.

The HA-3000 scales from 26 TB to 78 TB of SAS drives and includes at least 200 GB of SSD cache and either eight Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) or four 10 GbE ports. The SSD is used as a cache to accelerate read and write IOPS for VDI deployments. Customers can add more SSDs in the 3U 16-bay system.

Norman St. Pierre, GreenBytes’ director of field technical services, said he expects the HA-3000 to have other use cases, such as for Microsoft Exchange and highly virtualized server environments, but he said there is a big need for storage designed for VDI projects.

“For a lot of customers, storage has been the missing piece of VDI,” St. Pierre said. “Customers want to dip their toes in the water and many have, only to realize the back-end storage performance was lacking.”

The HA-3000 uses the same software stack as the GB-X platform, including inline dedupe for primary and backup data. St. Pierre said the vendor uses single-level cell (SLC) SSDs instead of the cheaper multi-level cell (MLC) SSDs that are increasingly showing up in enterprise systems. He said the GreenBytes systems rely on SSDs for deduplication indexing and search algorithms, and MLC performance isn’t good enough yet.

“We selected SLC for the write characteristics of VDI,” he said. “I believe there will be order-of-magnitude changes in the MLC industry in the not-too-distant future that changes the write characteristics so MLC may be suitable for our systems. But we didn’t feel like that meets our needs for this product.”

St. Pierre said GreenBytes will continue its GB-X series as an entry-level system, and the two systems can talk to each other and can be managed from a single console.

The HA-3000 is expected to ship in January. No pricing has been set.

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