Virtual Instruments taps into Load DynamiX, storage analytics

Storage performance monitoring vendor Virtual Instruments combines forces with load simulation vendor Load DynamiX in a merger that broadens their storage analytics platforms.

Storage monitoring vendor Virtual Instruments and performance analytics firm Load DynamiX today completed a merger, combining complementary but distinct product platforms.

Although the combined company will operate as Virtual Instruments, Load DynamiX CEO Philippe Vincent will serve as CEO. Vincent said Virtual Instruments will initially keep both companies' products and eventually integrate their technologies across both platforms.

Putting the two sets of products together can help give customers a more complete picture of their current and future storage performance. The merger also helps two vendors who may not have had broad enough product platforms to both survive. Vincent said Load DynamiX probably would have had to develop some of the same technologies Virtual Instruments has if it remained independent.

"By combining the two products, we end up several years ahead [in development work]," he said. "We can load rich data from Virtual Instrument probes into the Load DynamiX console. You don't have to make this a science project every time you do testing."

Virtual Instruments CEO John Thompson, who is chairman of Microsoft and former Symantec CEO, will leave the merged company. Most of Virtual Instruments' employees will stay with the new company, although most of the executive team will come from Load DynamiX. Load DynamiX CFO Kevin O'Donnell, chief marketing officer Len Rosenthal, senior vice president of products Tim Van Ash and senior vice president of sales Warren Bell will hold those positions in the new Virtual Instruments. CTO John Gentry and senior vice president of services Bo Barker remain from the Virtual Instruments team.

The expanded company will have approximately180 employees, and the companies say they have nearly 500 customers between them. Approximately 350 of those customers are using Virtual Instruments products. Both companies have headquarters in San Jose, Calif., about a mile apart.

The deal came about after Virtual Instruments sought new funding. Several of Load DynamiX's investors, led by venture capitalist firm HighBar Partners, invested $20 million in Virtual Instruments and merged the vendors.

Both private companies were founded in 2008. Finisar spinout Virtual Instruments sells hardware probes that monitor SAN and NAS arrays via traffic access points (TAPs), software probes that monitor virtual machines, and VirtualWisdom analytics software.

Load DyanmiX was founded in 2008 as Swiftest, selling software to storage vendors who wanted to test and validate their products. The company changed its name to Load DynamiX in 2013 when it started to also sell to enterprise customers.

Load DyanmiX sells Workload Generation Appliances for Fibre Channel, Ethernet and unified storage to simulate block, file and object storage workloads that test a storage system. The appliances are 2U physical boxes or software virtual appliances that generate large traffic loads to test a storage array's performance and scalability. Load DynamiX Enterprise software analyzes production workloads, emulates the I/O profile of applications to creates workload models, and then runs simulations.

One overlap in the vendors' products is the Workload Sensors that Load DynamiX announced in December, 2015. The sensors capture network switch data for the workload generation appliance to use in its simulations. Now Load DyanmiX will get that information from Virtual Instruments' probes.

Better storage analytics by working together

Rosenthal said large joint customers of the vendors have requested them to merge the information gathered by their products. He said Load DynamiX could use data from Virtual Instruments' probes, but that data had to be entered manually.

"Now the entire process will be automated," he said. He said the next product release of Load DynamiX Enterprise software -- scheduled to ship this month -- will include a way to import Virtual Instrument data.

"We can take that data and feed it into the Load DynamiX Enterprise modeling and simulation product," Rosenthal said.

Arun Taneja, president of the Taneja Group consulting firm, said the combination of the two platforms should strengthen them.

"It makes sense," Taneja said. "Together they'll have a greater chance of making it into a more successful company. Virtual Instruments is about putting a probe in the wire and basically watching everything come in in real-time. They try to figure out what's gone wrong and why performance may have gone south. Load DynamiX came at it from a different perspective -- How do I know how my application is going to behave if I bring in something new? They model workloads. One will target the operations side and the other is more appealing to the applications guys."

Henry Baltazar, research director at 451 Research, agreed the two companies' products are complementary and pointed out they both sell mainly to large enterprises with heavy SAN investments.

"These vendors were already targeting similar organizations and stakeholders," he said. "While there is a move to cloud and other new architectures such as hyper-converged infrastructure, traditional storage systems such as Fibre Channel arrays are not going away anytime soon."

Few competitors have similar products that cover multiple storage platforms. Baltazar said Brocade and Cisco have SAN monitoring and management tools for their products, and large storage array vendors have management tools mainly for their own products.

Vincent said the move to flash storage is driving interest in performance modeling. For instance, customers can use these products to determine which workloads work better in flash, and which specific array is best for a workload.

"Flash is the bread and butter of our workloads," he said. "Many customers who were happy with what they had needed to start changing things when they added flash."

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