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StorMagic debuts HCI, hypervisor as VMware alternative

StorMagic looks to court customers with smaller data centers for SMBs and the edge with SvHCI, a new VMware alternative with a KVM-based hypervisor and HCI capabilities.

StorMagic can now replace the entire virtual machine stack, not just the storage layer, with a new product that includes a hypervisor, networking and storage.

StorMagic's SvHCI offering aims to provide an alternative to VMware's ESXi hypervisor and associated networking and storage for SMBs and edge customers. The product will be available as a beta in the coming months with full general availability to follow before September.

After Broadcom completed its acquisition of VMware last year, the parent company reconfigured several popular services and products into collected subscriptions at set prices regardless of the customer's specific needs, according to Marc Staimer, founder and president of Dragon Slayer Consulting.

Broadcom's move might cause smaller buyers to reconsider their options, which include open source offerings and other hyperconverged infrastructure competitors such as Nutanix, he said. But it's also surfacing a new market of customers that storage vendors could try to reach.

"Every storage company in the world is looking at this and saying, 'How do we take advantage of this trend?'" Staimer said.

Virtualization populi

SvHCI provides a Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machine hypervisor, Open vSwitch for networking and StorMagic's own SvSAN virtualized storage.

The KVM hypervisor is the core virtualization software installed on either the computing hardware or operating system. It enables a server to house and run multiple operating systems and associated applications simultaneously.

Although built using open source software, StorMagic has added features and capabilities to create a closed source version of all three components for security purposes, according to Bruce Kornfeld, chief marketing and product officer at StorMagic.

"It's a new product, but the components aren't new," Kornfeld said. "We don't try to be for the data center, and we don't try to be for the cloud. We focus on SMB and small site demands."

SvHCI is priced per node, a server using the software suite, with a one node-one year contract starting at $2,049 for 2 TB.

The company had been working on the software for several years, but shelved the idea due to a lack of market interest, Kornfeld said. Broadcom's acquisition of VMware and subsequent pricing changes kickstarted the project again, he said.

The SvHCI product lacks enterprise-focused capabilities such as Aria cloud management services offered by VMware or the scale afforded by Nutanix, Kornfeld said. The vendor aims to offer a software suite that's faster to set up and maintain compared with open source offerings.

Additional capabilities are planned following the launch, Kornfeld said, including a migration and installation wizard within a few months of general availability.

Focusing on VMware's vulnerabilities

SMBs are most likely to experience a significant price hike following changes to VMware's pricing and catalog, according to Ray Lucchesi, president and founder of Silverton Consulting.

"[StorMagic is] going after the vulnerable portion of VMware's market base," Lucchesi said. "[They] are feeling the pinch from what VMware has done."

Broadcom wants roughly 80% of the VMware user base to go away.
Marc StaimerFounder and president, Dragon Slayer Consulting

The capabilities of SvHCI aren't much compared with the breadth and depth of VMware or Nutanix, he said. These more advanced features might not matter for smaller businesses that want basic virtualization, but customers should ask what the long-term roadmap is for any vendor's offering, he added.

"Is it priced more reasonably? Probably. Is it more limited? No doubt," Lucchesi said. "They're not the only software storage solution out there doing this."

Broadcom's catalog changes to VMware could eliminate what the tech giant might see as less valuable customers compared with major enterprises, Staimer said. StorMagic's target buyers for SvHCI are not large organizations, but those that would likely cost VMware in the long run in technical support, he said.

"Broadcom wants roughly 80% of the VMware user base to go away," Staimer said. "They won't make you leave, but they will raise prices until you do."

Tim McCarthy is a news writer for TechTarget Editorial covering cloud and data storage.

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