Interview with John Gentry, Vice President of Marketing and Alliances at Virtual Instruments
Virtual Instruments is leading the development of the infrastructure performance management (IPM) category. How did the company first develop its solution?
JG:A number of the members of our founding team worked together at Finisar, a company that builds optical communications products and subsystems. Our team worked with the diagnostic tools for Finisar’s original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that monitored device performance and integrations. We then spun the performance technology off in 2008 to create Virtual Instruments. Since then, what started as basic performance monitoring for Finisar clients’ devices and storage layers has expanded into performance optimization for the entire IT infrastructure that supports an enterprise. We saw the potential in expanding our technology to go both broader and deeper, offering global enterprises a level of insight into their infrastructure operations that has never before been fully developed.
What market trends and drivers are compelling the need for the IPM?
JG: There are so many developing technologies right now that enterprises initially hoped would make their IT challenges go away, but are instead just proving to be fresh headaches. Virtualization, cloud platforms, and – the latest and greatest – converged infrastructures are addressing the demand for greater automation and unification throughout IT systems, but enterprises every day are finding these options just lead to greater complexity, especially if a business doesn’t incorporate the right performance management technology to support these initiatives. Building on top of legacy infrastructures ultimately just leads to too many diverse technologies battling for bandwidth and, more importantly, the attention of IT departments. Businesses are coming to this key realization: they can’t depend on a fictional cure-all technology to eliminate complexities when even their existing heterogeneous systems aren’t optimized for peak efficiency. It’s this wake-up call that’s increasing the need for IPM.
What sets Virtual Instruments apart from alternative performance monitoring solutions or your other competitors?
JG: The concept of performance monitoring isn’t new, but there are three areas that set us apart. First is the level of monitoring our VirtualWisdom platform offers. While some other companies in the space provide excellent monitoring solutions for certain individual layers, such as application performance management platforms, there aren’t any companies that provide the same in-depth level of end-to-end visibility for an enterprise’s full system that we offer. Another key component is the granularity of the data we capture and analyze – VirtualWisdom is collecting data in a continuous, real-time manner with sub-second granularity. Finally, and perhaps the biggest differentiator, is our correlation engine and the application of context-relevant analytics, which means we are able to provide the key insights, not just present the data.
Can you expand on the recent partnership announcements with EMC and Panduit, and Citrix?
JG: The expansion of our partnership with EMC and the addition of Panduit was a great milestone for us. By incorporating our IPM technology and Panduit’s tapped fibre cassettes, we can offer global EMC VSPEX customers the first converged platform that comes fully equipped with IPM capabilities, ensuring performance optimized systems and availability at all times. Our partnership with Citrix was the result of our customers requesting a deeper relationship with the application providers whose infrastructure we are monitoring. By verifying VirtualWisdom4 as Citrix Ready, we’re opening the door for an even wider audience of Citrix’s customer base to seamlessly incorporate our IPM technology with Citrix’s established solutions.
What kind of benefits have your customers seen regarding improved efficiency, lower risk and lower operational costs as a result of incorporating your solution?
JG: The first thing we do when a customer calls us is conduct an audit of the company’s current infrastructure performance. Overall, we see that in most cases companies are not driving the desired levels of utilization of the system-wide infrastructures, but are still suffering from specific hot-spots that are affecting overall performance and availability. However, once we get these businesses set up with VirtualWisdom, they are able to drive significantly higher levels of utilization, while also improving overall performance. In these cases we are seeing customers double both the utilization and the performance, which represents a significant return on those assets. What they also see is a massive reduction in overall incidents, the elimination of severity one events, and as a result, large gains in operational efficiency.
As more enterprises shift from physical data centers to the cloud, how do you foresee performance management requirements evolving?
JG: Seemingly beneficial advances can be surprisingly detrimental. This is not to say the cloud is all bad – far from it. It just means cloud environments are great for certain functions, and less valuable for others. We see the performance management requirements evolving alongside the cloud’s uses. For example, businesses will become increasingly workload-centric when it comes to what goes in the cloud and what stays on premise. Mission-critical workloads will remain more secure in on-premise environments, whereas user-facing applications are better suited to the cloud. As the cloud becomes more prevalent overall, businesses will start relying even more heavily on their IPM technology to identify which functions belong there versus which are best kept on the ground. In addition, as customers consider moving more critical workloads to the cloud, there will be a requirement for an ‘enterprise-class’ cloud, where customers will demand the performance based SLA’s that can only be achieved with IPM.
What predictions do you have for trends in the coming year? How will IPM become more crucial due to these anticipated developments?
JG: In 2015, there will be more conversations between big business and government about how to more strongly regulate infrastructure performance and availability in critical industries, such as healthcare and finance. There are too many IT outages happening in these fields, where even a second of downtime can have major ramifications. Discussions will pick up soon about how to mandate IPM technology in these facilities to really ensure guaranteed availability across the board. Second, there’s going to be more demand for consolidation in IT management. With so many different technologies in play now, IT complexity is increasing at a pace the IT staff can’t match. These teams will start to call for overarching technology that can help manage so many disparate components. Vendor-agnostic players will be in much higher demand.
What’s coming up for Virtual Instruments in 2015?
JG: We have a number of announcements on the horizon. There are a few partnerships with global vendors and customer wins we’ll be sharing, as well as some new features that will be coming with VirtualWisdom4.2.