PernixData – transforming to a new arc…

arc1Nearing then end of their Virtualization Field Day 5 presentation, Satyam Vaghani, CTO and co-founder of PernixData touched on something dubbed “The arc of company life” – basically explaining how a companies journey involves an arc, moving from startup, through growth, till finally peaking and then beginning a decline.  Certainly all of these stages sound ideal for a company, minus the decline phase – but how does a company avoid this decline?

Transformation fuels growth

Satyam described this avoidance as transformation  By creating new arc, spawning off the original arc, companies can transform and endure the dreaded decline phase – essentially performing a pivot and focusing on something new, something useful, something different.


There has been a lot of talk in regards to disruption in the last 10 or so years – VMware has came and disrupted our data centers – which is a good thing, change is good – I think we can all agree on that – but Satyam says that in order for PernixData to cause disruption in our data centers they must first focus on technologies and solutions that will disrupt PernixData as a company – force themselves to look beyond server-side cache, beyond providing just performance to our VMs, force themselves to innovate and at the same time to transform and begin their journey on a new arc…

Disclaimer: As a Virtualization Field Day 5 delegate all of my flight, travel, accommodations, eats, and drinks are paid for. However I do not receive any compensation nor am I required to write anything in regards to the event or the sponsors. This is done at my own discretion.


A new hill to climb

So what is this new innovation, this pivot if you will that PernixData has decided to take?   Satyam took us on a journey explaining just how PernixData is trying to shift and gave us a few examples of some new products and solutions that PernixData is now focusing on, and how some enhancements to their core solution FVP is fuelling their transformation to grow…

PernixData Architect

Let’s start with PernixData Architect –  a new monitoring solution for your data center which as you can probably imagine focuses heavily on storage.  The interface for PernixData Architect looks smooth, implementing an SSO solution between FVP and other soon to be released applications from PernixData (announced below).  PernixData Architect goes deeper than simply reporting on those famous virtualization storage parameters such as DAVG, KAVG, and QAVG – think more in terms of statistics that we don’t see that often, but certainly do matter.  Sitting on top of the kernel PernixData Architect does indeed report on latency and IOP statistics, however it also presents us with metrics around commonly used block sizes, read/write ratios, active working sets, etc..  What can we do with all this data?  Well, aside from tuning and sizing our storage infrastructure it’s the perfect data for configuring and setting up FVP (Imagine that).


PernixData Cloud

So, PernixData is gathering all this data as it pertains to storage and giving us visibility into our own data centers but what if we wanted to take that data and compare it to others?  PernixData Cloud gives us the ability to do just that.  I like to think of PernixData Cloud as a graphing representation for the hallway talks that take place at conferences.  We’ve all had those experiences where we are standing around at a conference asking our peers questions like “What’s your max IOPs?”  “What type of latency are you seeing?”  “Oh, you’re running an EMC VNX, so am I, what type of maximum throughput do you see?”  PernixData takes these type of questions and places them (and the answers) into a familiar interface to that of Architect and FVP.  Imagine being able to see what the most common type of SSD drive being utilized is?  Or what type of storage array the industry is using behind FVP?  All the time comparing your environment to the average of similar environments in terms of latency, IOPs, etc.  PernixData Cloud Insights can certainly be used to help influence purchasing decisions, drive adoption, and gage how you stack up against the rest of the world.  Again, taking those hallway conversations and bringing them into your data center, with a more accurate and exact answer (basically, no lies Smile)


That said while data center comparison solutions such as PernixData Cloud Insights are extremely helpful, they aren’t much good until they have a vast, wide-range of data from all verticals – and getting this data can sometimes be a major challenge.  I mean, you can ask customers for data all day long but unless something is in it for them, you will usually come up short.

Enter PernixData FVP Freedom

fvp-freedom-gPernixData FVP Freedom solves the “What’s in it for me?” problem when providing data for Cloud Insights, but before we get into how it does that let’s take a quick look at a few of the benefits of FVP.   If you are looking for a great overview of PernixData FVP I’d definitely check out Peter Chang’s blog around FVP 2.0   For those looking for a quick description of what FVP is we can look no further than Satyam’s words; “Making previously impossible storage systems possible”.  They do this by accelerating read and write activities to your storage array by caching to either SSD storage or RAM locally on each host.  The cache to memory feature is interesting to say the least – with more and more vendors shipping servers with un-ghastly amounts of RAM it only  makes sense to take advantage of this and utilize it to it’s fullest potential.  FVP allows you to do by utilizing their Distributed Fault Tolerant Memory (DFTM) solution.  By aggregating RAM resources from all your hosts, and synchronously replicating to at the very least two hosts within your cluster you are left with the performance speeds of memory in a volatile manner, ensuring you get both efficiency and availability for all of your accelerated workloads.

Now let’s get back to the data seed issues within PernixData Cloud – If you haven’t already guessed by the newly announced product name (FVP Freedom), PernixData is creating a new version of their FVP software for the low low price of free!  Now there will be a few caveats with the release – technology limitations allow you to only use 1 DFTM cluster which is limited to 128GB of write-through cache only, but in essence, you can accelerate unlimited applications,VMs and hosts on what you have to work with.  Outside of the technology there is one more catch, any PernixData Freedom implementation will upload statistics into PernixData Cloud – this is how they solve the issues around seeding the PernixData Cloud environment.  A trade for your environmental data – which will of course be aggregated and anonymized.

Movin’ on up!

All in all I like the announcements coming from PernixData out of VFD5!  And I’m not alone with this feeling – there are a number of other posts from some great bloggers listed below, definitely check them out.

Offering up FVP in a freemium type model can only help adoption – getting the application into more data centers and in more potential customers hands is a good thing.  And it’s not like you are that limited with 128GB of memory either – the example PernixData gave us during the presentation revolved around LoginVSI testing.  They went from 181 VSImax users to 328 after implementing a 128GB DFTM cluster across 2 hosts – basically cutting their VDI per desktop storage costs in half.    Needless to say this is a pretty big benefit for budget constrained companies that might not mind sharing their environment data with PernixData Cloud users in exchange for free software.  If your interested you can sign up for FVP Freedom here.  The other new applications (Architect and Cloud Insights) were a surprise to me – it’s not like they are doing anything new here, there is tons of monitoring software out there, but they are reporting on and using the data differently than most the others.  Sometimes having a unique spin on the data that you report on is enough to raise eyebrows – and I have no doubt that PernixData is on to something here, if not a solid base for something more to come!  However it plays out, they certainly took another path on the arc and are on the up and up yet again!