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Pivot3 expands vStac VDI appliance for storage

Pivot3 releases second version of its vStac VDI appliance, using VMware's View Storage Accelerator for read caching to lower flash requirement.

Pivot3 Inc. today released the second version of its virtual desktop infrastructure appliance, which takes advantage of VMware's View Storage Accelerator for read caching and includes more capacity and RAM than the vendor's first-generation vStac appliance, released last year.

The vStac VDI R2 appliance is a parallel-architecture, scale-out appliance solution built specifically as storage for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments. The appliance contains all of the software -- including VMware View -- and hardware needed to implement up to 125 virtual desktops per box. The vStac operating system (OS) load balances and protects data across all of the VDI appliances.

Customers can stack as many as eight appliances. A fully loaded eight-appliance vStac array makes a 288 terabyte (TB) iSCSI SAN with eight parallel RAID controllers.

"As you add appliances, you're adding more spinning disks, more solid-state, and all of those resources are aggregated together as a big pool so that any individual desktop can have access to that total pool at once," said Lee Caswell, founder and chief strategy officer of the Austin, Texas-based company.

The VDI appliance is available with 12 TB, 24 TB or 36 TB of capacity on 7,200 rpm SATA drives. The appliance also is available with 128 GB, 256 GB or 384 GB of RAM. The View Storage Accelerator content-based read caching enables the appliance to use RAM for read requests and caches the read blocks for use with any other virtual machine (VM). This allows Pivot3 to use only 50 GB single-level cell (SLC) solid-state drives (SSDs) in each appliance for write caching. View Storage Accelerator also removes the need for expensive flash caching hardware. Pivot3 claims the enhancements lower the price per desktop by 45% over the previous version of the appliance.

"I think it's a really good trade-off," said Jim Bagley, a senior analyst with Storage Strategies Now, about using RAM instead of flash for read caches. "Instead of having a whole pile of flash on the motherboard, they've gone to a 50 GB [SSD] cache using single-level cell flash and RAM, and everything else is SATA. So between the processor, memory and the amount of DRAM they can configure in the machine, they can easily scale in the 125 to 150 desktops per appliance."

The vStac VDI R2 includes four Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) network ports and two 10 GbE ports to connect storage nodes for failover. Customers can start with a pre-packaged and configured P Cubed starter appliance for as many as 100 virtual desktops.

The Pivot3 VDI appliance will be available in November starting at $29,999.

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