EMC's Avamar Virtual Edition for VMware is a different case. It is designed to be used in production and seems like a natural evolution of the product. Avamar has gained traction as a backup application for the virtual environment and moving the product to a virtual edition potentially makes sense for many customers. With the virtual edition loaded on the ESX server it becomes its own deduplication appliance, deduplicating all the data on that host prior to sending it across the network to a storage repository. While you do not get the cross server deduplication benefit of the traditional Avamar solution, if the target that the Avamar Virtual Edition is sending data to has deduplication capabilities then cross server deduplication does occur at that point.
Nexenta's NexentaStor is a NAS product built on ZFS. They recently have received the VMware ready certification and is a full working copy of the NexentaStor product. Essentially create a VM, assign storage to the VM and load the NexentaStor OS. Once running the product looks and acts like the NexentaStor standalone product. It can serve up NFS, CIFS, Fibre or iSCSI connectivity to other virtual machines and to connected standalone servers that need capacity. While many customers will migrate to a standalone system, Nexenta supports the product in production in its virtual appliance form and has many customers running in that mode. As is the case with the other virtual appliance products it comes down to how demanding are your performance needs and how much excess compute resources are available to drive the software.
That is just a taste of the virtual appliance products that are on the market. In the next entry we will look at what the future holds for virtual appliances and how that may change the way you buy storage in the future.
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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.