Server virtualization technologies such as VMware vSphere help lower costs and drive efficiencies in the compute layer, but the operational benefits often come at the expense of increased complexity and reduced performance in other parts of the data center. Peter Smith, the head of product development for Infinio, appeared on the latest episode of SiliconANGLE’s CubeConversations series to share how his firm enables organizations to avoid this trade-off, speaking with Wikibon senior analyst Stu Miniman.
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts near the Wikibon headquarters, the three-year-old Infinio offers a server-side caching solution that allows customers to reduce the burden on their storage systems for improved performance. According to Smith, the tool can be used to provide additional capacity without purchasing more hardware or making any significant changes to the existing environment, a combination that can go a long way towards simplifying life for CIOs. Infinio aims for ease of use across the board, starting at the installation process.
“Our software fully automates the installation process, there are no plugins in the hypervisor, no plugins in the operating system, you don’t even have to reboot a host, you don’t even need to put a host into maintenance mode,” Smith says. “You just download our software, hit Go and six Next bottoms later, we slip ourselves into the I/O stream. The only thing your workload knows happened is it got faster.”
Beyond general-purpose solutions
The firm pegs its product as a general-purpose solution that can complement a broad range of workloads, but there are certain use case scenarios in which it can prove especially useful. Databases, for instance, stand to benefit quite a bit from the latency reduction and the I/O capacity increase Infinio’s software can provide, and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) even more so.
Historically, high cost and complexity have made it difficult for organizations to realize the promise of desktop virtualization, but that is beginning to change as vendors like VMware adapt their offerings to better meet customer requirements. Together with the growing need to centralize end-point security and a number of other industry trends, the maturation of the market is creating a perfect storm for adoption that is pushing more and more companies to embrace the technology, creating a massive growth opportunity for Infinio in the process.
Managing virtual desktop images introduces a new set of challenges, chief of which is the need to provide the responsiveness and overall quality of experience end-users expect. That necessitates addressing the virtual machine noisy neighbor problem, which Smith says his firm solves by removing redundant data using deduplication and enforcing a consistent I/O profile across images.
Infinio is making a splash in the marketplace. Just over a quarter after launching its offering into general availability, the startup already boasts 15 paying customers in eight distinct segments, growth that Smith credits in part to the accessibility of the solution. The software is available in a 30-day free trial version that can be set up within half an hour, he details, which usually means a prospective customer already has it deployed by the time they receive a call from a sales representative.
“The expectation is that during the first call, they’re going to go through the installation process. And what we find is in most cases, the customer has already installed our software on their own, because it’s literally just that simple,” Smith details. “So our first call actually turns into a ‘results call’ where they’ve actually had our software running in their environment, they’ve collected some meaningful statistics over that period, and were going through and evaluating how much I/O improvements they realized.”
Customers can access these ‘meaningful statistics’ via the Infinio console, which according to Smith runs on a built-in analytics engine that provides visibility into how the software impacts specific workloads. This transparency allows virtualization admins to handle installation on their own without having to make any configuration changes that would require involving the storage or network administrator.
“We spend considerable time on an analytics platform that can really look at this data and can raise to you the very specific benefits that you’re getting,” Smith says. “To do that in a plug-in in vCenter would undermine some of the value we offer in the console.”
Infinio’s simplified approach to delivering storage performance has landed it a total of $24 million in funding to date from high-profile investors including Lightspeed and Highlight. The 40-strong firm plans to grow its momentum through channel partnership and an aggressive go-to-market strategy that Smith says will soon be revamped.