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Load DynamiX unveils new Virtual Series storage test tools

Newly updated Load DynamiX Virtual Series tools offer the same GUI, workflow, statistics and API as its physical storage performance validation appliance.

Load DynamiX Inc. today unveiled new editions of virtual tools designed to give vendors and IT organizations a lower-cost option than its physical appliances to test storage systems' performance.

The Load DynamiX Virtual (LDX-V) Series offers the same software GUI, workflow, statistics and API as the Load DynamiX storage performance validation appliance. But the LDX-V Standard and higher-end LDX-V Plus editions take aim at less performance-intensive file, block and object/cloud storage systems.

Len Rosenthal, vice president of marketing at Load DynamiX, said the virtual appliances would be more appropriate for hybrid systems than for all-flash arrays generating a million IOPS or more.

Load DynamiX appliances generate workloads and emulate real-world traffic to help storage professionals validate and test storage infrastructure, optimize product configurations, analyze performance and pinpoint trouble spots. Users can deploy multiple LDX-V instances on the same host or distribute them across servers.

The LDX-V Series runs on standard x86-based servers, supports VMware's ESXi and Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisors, and works with the Load DynamiX Enterprise 5.0 software application.

LDX-V Standard supports four 256 megabits per second virtual Ethernet ports, and LDX-V Plus can handle up to 4 gigabits per second (Gbps) of bandwidth per virtual appliance. The Load DynamiX products support all major Ethernet protocols, including iSCSI, NFS, SMB, OpenStack Swift and Cinder, CDMI and Amazon S3.

The latest LDX virtual appliances are designed to extend Load DynamiX's reach to mid-market customers. Rosenthal noted that the initial customers for Load DynamiX's products were primarily storage vendors, but late last year, sales to IT organizations cracked the 50% mark for the first time.

Pricing starts at $15,000 for LDX-V Standard and $25,000 for the LDX-V Plus. The average price of Load DynamiX physical appliances is more than $100,000, which limits them mostly to larger companies.

"This extension with virtual load generation capabilities broadens the reach and applicability of load testing into a much wider range of organizations," said Mike Matchett, a senior analyst and consultant at Taneja Group.

Load DynamiX introduced a limited version of the LDX Virtual Series in April 2014, but the company targeted vendors with the original product. Rosenthal said the software had a low-level interface that was difficult for anyone other than highly skilled software engineers to use. He said the new LDX Virtual Series is full featured.

"We've added the ability to use Load DynamiX Enterprise with it, with our Web-based GUI and all the slider bars," he said. "It's functionally equivalent to our hardware appliances as opposed to just a load generator. And we have quadrupled the performance."

"Our theory is that 90% of the customers are going to go for the LDX-V Plus," Rosenthal said. "We have the other [Standard] one primarily for the vendors when they do functional testing. But the IT organizations aren't going to do much of that. They'll need a higher performance version."

Rosenthal said customers could buy multiple appliances if they're generating more than 4 Gbps, but once they reach 16 Gbps, they hit the $100,000 starting price point of a hardware-based appliance, which they could use to generate a "massive amount of traffic."

"If you need to be able to test and sustain systems that are in the 500,000 IOPS range, you're still going to need the hardware appliance, and frankly, you should be able to cost-justify that," said George Crump, founder and president of Storage Switzerland LLC. "The virtual version won't be able to generate as high a level of performance, but many environments don't need that. That mid-tier data center can now bring in those mid-range boxes like Tegile, Pure Storage and Nimble and test them. If you need 100,000 IOPS, this gives you a new door to do real performance testing as opposed to running [free] Iometer, Vdbench or something like that."

Crump said those free tools "just throw bits at a bucket" and don't simulate real workloads.

Load DynamiX complemented the latest LDX-V Plus with enhancements to the Load DynamiX Enterprise 5.0 software and physical Workload Generation Appliance series. The company claimed to improve performance and ease provisioning of N_Port ID Virtualization to simulate large-scale virtualized environments, boost Fibre Channel discovery performance to accommodate greater numbers of virtual servers, and simplify iSCSI qualified name setup to reduce the time needed to set up iSCSI test situations.

In December, Load DynamiX added sensors, a data importer and a workload analyzer to give customers insight into real-time and historical application behavior. Prior versions focused on generating workloads and validating storage performance on systems prior to their production use.

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