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Virtualization: Article

Has the Famed Andy Bechtolsheim Divining Rod Struck Pay Dirt Again?

A shiny new 17-month-old stealth start-up named IO Turbine just broke cover

A shiny new 17-month-old stealth start-up named IO Turbine just broke cover propelled by an angel investment from Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim and Andy’s co-angel Stanford professor David Cheriton, boys who have made a few billion on early investments in items like Google and VMware.

IO Turbine subsequently attracted venture money from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Merus Capital. Altogether the four of them have bet $7.75 million that its Accelio software can solve the I/O bottleneck problem in VMware environments by directing I/O requests away from overburdened primary storage to Flash memory for the most frequently accessed and critical data.

Basically the start-up’s got a new memory-to-storage architecture that delivers a more efficient I/O path for virtualizing I/O-intensive applications and increasing VM density.

The big problem in virtualized computing is supposed to be performance and those pesky I/O bottlenecks cause the application latency that increases cost and complexity. Adding more storage, either spindles or solid state, is expensive and increases management complexity and then – poof! – there goes any savings from virtualizing or consolidation.

Accelio on the compute VMware servers is supposed to attack the problem at its source, which means each virtual machine.

The widgetry is supposed to identify the highest-priority data and offload IOPS from primary storage to Flash, upping the performance of the right virtual machines. Depending on the app, figure 4x more work.

The company says Accelio “eliminates the constraints of hardware caching solutions like SAN, NAS and caching appliances that are downstream from the host and have no visibility into the source of the data they’re caching.”

Accelio is supposed to learn what’s most important to cache by being right in the guest OS/virtual machine that’s making the requests and redirecting them to the Flash/SSD located in the host. Requests accelerate because they aren’t sent to external storage or caching appliances and use the Flash or PCI-based devices to deliver I/O responses at near memory speeds.

IO Turbine says users get to wring the real benefits out of VMware vMotion, moving VMs between physical machines at will.

Accelio reportedly offers granular performance acceleration at the file, volume and disk levels and can be tuned for specific VM requirements.

The company describes Accelio as application-transparent, hypervisor- agnostic, Flash-agnostic and storage system-agnostic and says it supports non-virtualized environments. Primary storage is still used for data management. Apps, the hypervisor and storage infrastructure don’t have to be reconfigured.

IO Turbine’s made the widgetry available for beta testing here

The 25-man company was started by CEO Rich Boberg out of NetApp and CTO Vikram Joshi, who created the key technology that underlies Oracle’s Exadata appliance.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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