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GreenBytes launches virtual appliance to reduce storage for VDI

Todd Erickson

GreenBytes is rolling out a virtual appliance version of its IO Offload Engine

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hardware device built to store virtual desktop images more efficiently and transmit them faster.

VIO is software that runs inside VMware Inc.'s ESXi hypervisor. It offloads virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) swap disk and operating system I/O to flash storage, such as PCI Express cards, local solid-state storage disk, or networked storage solid-state storage controllers.

Like the IO Offload Engine, vIO reduces the total amount of storage necessary for VDI deployments with inline deduplication and compression. "We've taken the functionality of the IO Offload Engine and virtualized it," GreenBytes CEO Steve O'Donnell said. "You use the storage that you already have. We deduplicate it and compress it, and offer it out as a mean of managing your fully persistent desktops."

VIO also supports nonpersistent or stateless VDI desktops, but has less impact because those desktops have less duplicated data.

The IO Offload Engine that GreenBytes rolled out in August 2012 supports up to 5,000 virtual desktops per appliance by diverting swap and boot traffic away from primary storage.

One vIO instance supports as many as 500 virtual desktops. Administrators add support for additional virtual desktops by adding more vIO instances. Each instance requires 16 GB of RAM, which can be shared by clustered ESXi servers. VIO uses 1 GB of solid-state storage for each persistent or stateless virtual desktop. "VIO has allowed us to go after small and medium enterprises, departments in larger enterprises, and trials and tests of virtual desktops from 100 seats upwards," O'Donnell said.

GreenBytes first entered the enterprise storage market in 2009 with an inline deduplication system based on Sun Microsystems' ZFS file system. In February 2012, the company released Solidarity, its first all-flash array with inline dedupe and compression for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), but discontinued that product to concentrate on the VDI offload product.

Karin Kelley, an infrastructure software analyst at 451 Research, said the virtual appliance was a logical follow-up to the IO Offload Engine because the original product was priced out of SMB shops. The IO Offload Engine pricing starts at $100,000 for up to 5,000 desktops.

"So, they came out with the software appliance to address that, and I think it puts them in a great place competitively," Kelley said.

VIO's entry-level price is $75 per user for 100 or more users. The cost per desktop decreases as administrators scale up the number of users, O'Donnell said.

GreenBytes is working with approximately 20 beta customers, leading to the product's general availability on March 1, O'Donnell said.

Kelley said that VDI adoption is gaining speed at a modest pace and the market is wide-open. "[GreenBytes] has a huge opportunity right now," she said. "It's fair game for everyone in the market right now." She cited Atlantis Computing as GreenBytes' major competitor. The company's other competition, Virsto Software, entered into an agreement to be acquired by VMware this month.


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