I met StorMagic a few weeks ago at Storage Field Day 6. We are talking about a company born in 2006 that is proposing a sole product called SvSAN. A VSA for VMware (and Hyper-V) environments which is very good for large distributed and remote deployments.
SvSAN is a VSA that exposes iSCSI (there is a solid iSCSI knowledge in StorMagic) and it is compatible with VMware and Hyper-V. Contrary to what is usually seen on other VSAs, this one can start with very small high availability configurations (2 nodes). In fact, it manages the quorum device (which can also be remote),in a brilliant way. This, coupled with the licensing model, allows the end user to deploy cost effective two node clusters in remote offices… really effective for managing a bunch of machines in a remote location. This doesn’t mean that SvSAN doesn’t scale, but the sweet spot for this product is when the customer wants to avoid complexity and save money in remote, sometimes unattended, deployments.
The product is also very easy to manage through a vCenter plugin and it provides a feature to rebuild the system very quickly in case of a node failure. That said, some StorMagic customers use SvSAN on top of the free version of ESXi (which makes the whole solution very inexpensive but less manageable).
Customers, (I know one of them in Italy), seem very happy about this solution just because:
1) it works;
2) Both TCA and TCO are very low.
Two reasons which make the product very appealing to all those customers who have a large distributed infrastructure (like, for example, retail chains)
From my point of view, to reach perfection, the product needs a couple of important improvements:
A snapshot feature, with the ability to schedule snapshots for local backups, and remote replication of these snapshots to a central site. This would solve two major pain points (and costs) for most of their customers, while further improving the TCO of the infrastructure, IMHO.
Closing the circle
The product is already the best in its category when it comes to TCO and TCA in small remote deployments, especially when small infrastructures are left unattended.
On the other hand the improvements that I have described above would make the product even more compelling (and I’m sure customers would pay extra to have backup and replication features).
One last thing (just wishful thinking), SvSAN is based on Linux and exposes iSCSI protocol. It wouldn’t be difficult for StorMagic to think about a bare metal installation of the VSA and leverage KVM to provide the virtualization service (we are talking about a bunch of machines in remote offices, with no particular needs).
It would be a kind of hyper converged system with basic virtualization features but, if well designed, it could take full advantage of central management features inherited by SvSAN. This would make the product even more appealing for all those customers that are deploying it on the free version of ESXi (more manageable)… and for customers using a payed version of ESXi (the hyper converged version of SvSAN could cost a fraction of ESXi, with support coming from a single vendor).