Startup hardware vendor V3 Systems is offering VDI-specific servers with claims of high performance and ease of use. But some people wonder whether they’re nothing more than just a fancy bezel on a Super Micro server with a Fusion-io card.
V3 came on the scene about a year ago promising to make VDI practical for the masses, with co-founder Peter Bookman bringing his experience at Fusion-io to the table. Their website claims reduced CapEx and OpEx, simplicity, and ease of use, all through a 1U plug and play box that can deploy 50-300 desktops in an hour. They have shown demonstrations of VDI desktops that are 2 to 8 times faster than physical desktops, using a solid state infrastructure from Fusion-io.
In marketing materials, V3 compares their solution to SAN-based VDI deployment, which is somewhat of a polarizing issue. More importantly, though, we also have to remember that VDI is not for everyone, but rather for limited use cases. Like Brian said, “Most people need VDI like [they] need a hole in their head.” Also, we know how suspect claims about anything to do with cost models can be. With that disclaimer, we have to look at V3 just within the context of other high IOPS VDI solutions.
It turns out that V3 is coming into a space that’s already pretty full. At first glance, it even seems like V3 is a bit late to the Fusion-io party, too. IBM was partnering with Fusion-io since Project Quicksilver was wowing people back in 2008, and is now even offering a discount on its products. Dell has had a relationship with Fusion-io since its early days, and HP also offers Fusion-io products.
So if you can buy a Fusion-io card bundled into a “real” server, why buy a Super Micro from V3? On one hand, this appliance could make a first-time VDI implementation easy and fast. On the other hand, if an IT department can’t figure out how to pick out a server from one of the big guys, then they have no business doing VDI anyway.
Beyond the offerings from the bigger companies—companies that IT departments already have relationships with—there are other solutions out there—Whiptail, XtremIO, STEC—that remind us that V3 is not alone. Whiptail markets their XLR8r (“accelerator”... get it? :) for VDI among other uses, not in the focused way of V3’s marketing. XtremIO seems to be going in a similar direction; while they don’t have any products yet, they did get $14m in Round B funding last month. Pivot3 is doing some interesting things area with its vBank, then there’s also Xiotech’s hybrid solution, the list just goes on and on.
With all of these competitors using similar or identical technology, why choose V3? True, it is really cool to see their demos of a slickly-packaged, VDI specific appliance out-performing the fastest traditional desktops. And their marketing seems to cut through the crowd, essentially saying, “Look, we can actually, finally do this VDI thing now, with a cool, sexy appliance built from scratch!” But it remains that there are many other products out there can do the exact same thing.
So will a small, highly-targeted company have the advantage in a crowded field? Or will more established companies or different technologies edge them out?