Pancetera Reduces I/O for VM Backups

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Storage virtualization startup Pancetera is out to optimize I/O for backup, replication, security scanning, and WAN mobility in virtual machine (VM) environments.

The company today unveiled Pancetera Unite, a virtual appliance that makes it possible to integrate standard file system tools, such as backup, replication, and migration software, with a VMware virtual infrastructure.

Pancetera’s Unite virtual appliance resides on a single host and aggregates all VMs into a unified view that can serve as a mount point for backup and restore applications.

Unite looks and behaves like a NAS product. Bart Bartlett, Pancetera’s vice president of marketing, said the Unite file system can be mounted as a CIFS share or NFS mount, and supports all standard operations, such as copying files, as you would with any other file system.

The difference, however, is that data is not written to the Pancetera Unite file system. Instead, the file system is populated with the VM files from vSphere ESX or ESXi servers. Hosts and VMs appear in browseable directories, regardless of back-end storage type.

Bartlett said deploying Unite eliminates the need for a consolidated backup; reduces the I/O and bandwidth requirements associated with backups; and improves the overall management of VMs.

The Pancetera Unite virtual appliance requires 640MB of RAM and generates almost no disk or network activity unless a client of the Unite file system invokes a file operation.

Pancetera’s virtual appliance consists of two technologies – SmartRead and SmartView. SmartRead determines which parts of a virtual machine disk file are in use and avoids copying unallocated or unused blocks. The software also uses progressive optimization to determine which blocks have changed and copies only the deltas. SmartRead also avoids reading duplicate blocks that exist within multiple VMs.

SmartView is the dashboard that provides a complete view of all VMs in a given environment and, in the process, offloads agent-based workloads from host machines. SmartView can also export VMs via CIFS and NFS.

Bartlett said Unite also accelerates VM mobility when deployed with WAN optimization technology. Pancetera exports VMDK via CIFS or NFS, and WAN optimization, protocols commonly used by WAN optimization appliances. Bartlett said the combined solution can reduce the overall cost of moving VMs.

Pancetera has partnered with WAN acceleration and optimization vendor Riverbed Technology and supports Riverbed’s Steelhead appliances and software.

The Unite appliance supports VMware ESX 3.5 and 4.x. Pancetera plans to support a range of hypervisors, including Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer.

Pancetera recently secured $5 million in its first round of funding from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and ONSET Ventures, and announced that Henrik Rosendahl has been appointed as CEO. Previously CEO of Thinstall, which was sold to VMware, Rosendahl now heads a team of storage industry veterans from companies such as Data Domain and Legato Systems.

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Kevin Komiega
Kevin Komiega
Kevin Komiega is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor.
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