Astute Pursues MSPs With Flash Storage Appliance

Astute Pursues MSPs With Flash Storage Appliance

Astute Networks Inc. will target MSPs as both a customer segment and distribution channel for its soon-to-ship storage appliance that aims to boost the performance of virtual machines and applications. The company this week is set to announce its ViSX G4 Flash VM storage appliance. The product line consists of three models, ranging from 2.4 TB to 9.6 TB in a 2U rack mount device. The appliances, which use flash storage instead of hard disk drives, are slated for availability in September. Pricing starts at $49,000.

Storage bottlenecks have been a problem in virtualized environments. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployments, for example, rarely get beyond 200 or 300 virtual desktops and storage constraints are often the culprit.

I/O bottlenecks also hinder the virtualization of core business applications, according to Astute. Len Rosenthal, Astute’s senior vice president of marketing, said the company’s appliance provides a performance lift that will encourage Tier 1 app virtualization, increase virtual machine density across server farms, and pave the way for a broader deployment of VDI.

Rosenthal said service providers are one of the key markets for Astute’s ViSX appliance. He said he believes the product will be particularly useful for smaller service providers moving to iSCSI storage. The appliance includes an application specific integrated circuit that accelerates TCP and iSCSI, he noted.

The Trouble with Fibre Channel

Large service providers, Rosenthal said, tend to use Fibre Channel storage, which he described as expensive, hard to maintain, and difficult to troubleshoot. Most service providers, however, are moving away from Fibre Channel to iSCSI or Network File System Ethernet networks, he said. The ViSX appliance’s acceleration will provide performance as good as or better than Fibre Channel without the cost and complexity, according to Rosenthal.

“MSPs are all looking to reduce cost,” he said.

Rosenthal said he believes the ViSX appliance will prove attractive to service providers working with HP LeftHand, Dell EqualLogic, and EMC VNX storage products. He added that ViSX may also appeal to service providers since it is designed to be managed by a virtual machine administrator rather than a storage manager.

Virtual machine administrators can provision a new virtual machine in a few minutes, Rosenthal said.  But if they have to go to a SAN admin to provision storage, the processes can take hours or, in some cases, days or weeks, he added.

Service providers, he said, “are looking for ... storage that can be provisioned quickly.”

Opportunities for Resellers, Too/

While Rosenthal envisions MSPs as a customer segment, he also believes that some will resell the product. MSPs, however, won’t be the sole channel for the new appliance. The company also plans to sell through VARs.

Rosenthal said the ViSX appliance is specifically designed for VMware administrators, with integration to VMware’s management tool provided via a vCenter plug in. The appliance, however, also works with virtualization technology from Citrix, Microsoft and Red Hat. Astute’s FlashWRX software is used to bridge those platforms.

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