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Virtual Instruments teaches VirtualWisdom NAS expertise

Virtual Instruments taps into expertise gained through the Load DynamiX merger to teach its VirtualWisdom analytics products to monitor NAS, along with Fibre Channel SAN arrays.

After operating for the last seven years primarily in the Fibre Channel SAN market, Virtual Instruments is aiming its VirtualWisdom performance analytics product at NAS.

Virtual Instruments leveraged expertise it gained from its Load DynamiX acquisition to bring the new NAS probe to market, said Len Rosenthal, chief marketing officer at Virtual Instruments, based in San Jose, Calif. He said the vendor will extend the Ethernet expertise used for NAS to iSCSI block storage next.

"Candidly, this is something we wanted to bring out years ago, [but] it took the company a while to figure it out," Rosenthal said. "It's more complex than Fibre Channel. Plus, NAS is a much faster growth market. Fibre Channel, as a whole, is a flat business.

"We will be adding an iSCSI option early next year. It will be a 10 [gigabit per second] interface that will be used for NAS."

Virtual Instruments added limited NAS capabilities in 2014 through support of NAS analytics on NetApp FAS arrays. But the NetApp NAS probe software collected only about 30% of the type of metrics Virtual Instruments' SAN probe gathers, and the vendor failed to extend those capabilities to other NAS systems until picking up Load DynamiX technology.

Virtual Instruments' new capabilities will handle any NAS systems that support NFS or SMB protocols.

The Virtual Instruments VirtualWisdom monitoring product is sold either as hardware or as a virtual appliance. The probes in the VirtualWisdom product hook up via fiber optic connections to a Traffic Access Point device, which monitors production storage. The probe converts light into electronics, extracts the relevant data around a transaction, and then inputs it into the VirtualWisdom application for analytics, alerts and anomalies in the infrastructure that are causing performance problems.

The probe looks at the workload and response-time metrics for each transaction. It monitors the flow metrics, remote procedure calls, and hot file and volume metrics in a NAS environment.

What causes NAS problems are typically changes in workload and user patterns.
Len Rosenthalchief marketing officer, Virtual Instruments

"These are three areas that are unique in the NAS environment that are not relevant in a SAN environment," Rosenthal said. "What causes NAS problems are typically changes in workload and user patterns."

The 2U NAS probe has 16 ports at a 10 Gigabit Ethernet line rate that monitor NAS protocols, meaning it can monitor 16 devices or ports. It supports NFSv3 now, with support for SMB coming out in a couple of months and support for NFSv4 planned for 2017.

The storage monitoring vendor Virtual Instruments and performance analytics firm Load DynamiX completed their merger this past March, combining complementary but distinct product platforms.  

Rosenthal said Virtual Instruments reached profitability in the second quarter for the first time since it was founded seven years ago.

"We are expecting to be profitable for the calendar year," he said. "Obviously, nothing is a guarantee, but all the signs are pointing that way."

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