The VDI market has been heating up again this year. And Pivot3, a provider of converged storage and compute appliances, have been having a busy October delivering technology in this VDI market. I recently had the chance to catch up with Lee Caswell, the company's founder and chief strategy officer, to find out more. Just in the month of October alone, Pivot3 has expanded efforts in the EMEA market, launched a new vSTAC VDI appliance, partnered with Samsung, and announced new support for VMware's new technology gained from the Wanova acquisition.
VMblog: Many questions have arisen
regarding the practicality of VDI given the upfront costs. What is Pivot3 doing
to lower the cost-of-entry for enterprises?
Lee Caswell: Customers often have the
expectation, usually based on their experience with server virtualization, that
VDI will save them money. Now there are a lot of great reasons to deploy VDI
but it's been pretty tough to find virtual desktop infrastructure that can match
the price of a cheap laptop. The news here is that the latest Pivot3 VDI R2
appliances have cracked the elusive $200 barrier to deliver virtual desktops at
cost-parity with their physical counterparts.
VMblog: What features will customers
find advantageous about the vSTAC VDI R2 appliance in addition to the attractive
Caswell: Customers gave us thoughtful
and direct feedback that we carefully engineered into the time-proven winning
formula in technology - give users more for less and make technology easier to
use. On performance, we adopted the latest Intel CPUs to increase the desktops
per appliance by 25%, we increased the max RAM in each appliance by up to 400%
to support new 64bit desktop OS requirements, and we redirected repetitive reads
to system-level RAM cache by leveraging the new VMware View Storage
Accelerator. For ease of use, we added full performance VDI support based on
scale-out 1GE connectivity so that customers could get started today with 1GE
and migrate over time. And lastly, we now let customers mix and match our VDI
appliances with our storage-only appliances to more easily manage the mix of
compute and storage in a converged array.
VMblog: The vSTAC VDI R2 is paired
with VMware technology. How will this enhance the application's
Caswell: We're an all-VMware solution at
this point and that's an advantage for end users and resellers alike. There's a
responsibility that a converged appliance manufacturer takes on for
understanding the entire application stack and we take this responsibility
seriously with a solution that is tested and certified up and down the VMware
product line. We're certified for the Rapid Desktop Program, for the Mobile
Secure Desktop User, for the Remote Branch Office User, and for the AlwaysOn
Point of Care Healthcare User. We don't stop at testing VDI storage and server
capabilities - we work through all of the software components a user is likely
to need. So we extend our testing to include partner solutions beyond VMware
such as Trend Micro for AV, Teradici for PCoIP acceleration and Samsung for thin
VMblog: When will the product be
available and what are the out-of-pocket costs?
Caswell: vSTAC VDI R2 appliances will be
available to order in November. List pricing starts at $29,999.
VMblog: How does Pivot3's ability to
support the latest VMware MirageTM
technology deliver an optimized solution for organizations that rely on
remote branch desktop deployments that are
centrally configured and managed, but have locally deployed
Caswell: VMware Mirage offers
some compelling layering technology that can be used for managing and protecting
both physical and virtual desktops. While the first implementations of Mirage
are focused on physical desktops, we'll be working closely with the Mirage team
to show how virtual desktops running on Pivot3 infrastructure can tap into this
new layering technology just as we support features such as vMotion and
management software like vCOPS and vCenter.
VMblog: What has stemmed from your
recent partnership with Samsung?
Caswell: We've worked closely with
Samsung to prove that the combination of Samsung Cloud Displays and Pivot3 vSTAC
VDI Appliances is a test-complete, cost-effective solution. While resellers
have always known that a tested solution reduces risk in the field, they are
just starting to realize that converged VDI appliances offer the best
opportunity to create a winning VDI bid. That's because traditional SAN
products and physical servers required for the same functionality cost up to 50%
more than a converged appliance. Time spent evaluating and promoting converged
appliances has a much higher return than trying to negotiate a better price on a
thin client. So we're seeing resellers leveraging the known Samsung brand at
the endpoint device and introducing the simplicity, cost, power and cooling
benefits of Pivot3 appliances to clinch the deal with either improved margins or
lower bid costs on deals ranging from 250 to 2500 desktops.
VMblog: You've also unveiled two new
"View-in-a-box" bundles for the ArrowECS partner network in EMEA. What will these bundles provide and who will
be your target customers?
Caswell: We have two bundles teed up for
ArrowECS partners: "View-in-a-box 250" and "View in a Box 500" which support 250
and 500 desktops respectively. These bundles are targeted for customers in
state and local government, education, healthcare and financial services where
enterprise reliability is valued, predictable performance is a must and
cost-effectiveness vis-à-vis physical desktops is critical. The View-in-a-box
250 includes 250 VMware View licenses and three Pivot3 vSTAC VDI R2 appliances;
the View-in-a-box 500 bundles 500 VMware View licenses with five Pivot3 vSTAC
VDI R2 appliances.
VMblog: You all seemed to have had a very active start to the month of October. How will Pivot3 keep this
momentum in the VDI market heading into the final months of the year?
Caswell: We're turning the customer
qualification process on its head and that has resellers paying attention.
Rather than trying to force-fit VDI on all customers, we're helping resellers
qualify new opportunities and we have a filter sales model that helps our
partners maximize the efficiency of their selling process. That sales process
help, combined with our seamless linear scaling message, is taking root in a
repeatable and profitable selling motion that is going to be exciting to
Thanks again to Lee Caswell, founder and chief strategy officer from Pivot3 for taking time out to speak with VMblog and answer a few questions.