ROBO virtualization with StorMagic SvSAN

StorMagicToday at the VMware Partner Exchange, StorMagic and VMware announced their partnership in bringing high available, low cost server virtualization to the Remote Office Branch Office (ROBO) environments. The StorMagic solution is pretty unique in the fact that it can build a high available, software-defined, vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) with just two servers compared to the “normal” 3+ servers that other VSA products need. This saves you a lot of €€ or $$ in small locations like the ROBO environments, both in CAPEX  and OPEX.

I learned about StorMagic and their SvSAN product at Storage Field Day 6 last year; my write-up at that time can be found over here. So as a quick recap, what DO they do?

Companies that have lots of remote sites like for example retail branches usually don’t have IT staff at those remote locations. There’s a handful (7-8) of applications running at each location and those applications need to be online, high-available and are typically virtualized. Thus the infrastructure running those applications needs to be high available, resilient and most importantly: cheap.

VMware ROBO StorMagic slide

Instead of installing and maintaining two storage arrays (remember: one storage array is a single point of failure) for each location, why not use the local storage in the VMware server? SvSAN can build this software-only shared storage in a two-server configuration where other solutions like VMware’s own VSAN need at least three servers. This saves you up to 50% in CAPEX (1 less server to buy) and the same in OPEX (one less server to cool).

The resulting environment can be deployed quickly through scripted deployments (same for upgrades; script away!) and managed centrally from one or several vCenter instances. For example: one StorMagic customer has 2200 remote locations which are managed with 7 vCenter servers. Upgrading the SvSAN VSAs can be done via scripts which took that particular organization roughly 3-4 days.


As of today VMware will actively recommend SvSAN as the recommended ROBO VSA solution, combining this with their ROBO vSphere editions announced during VMworld 2014. In fact the VMware channel partners will be pushing the majority of these solutions. VMware VSAN won’t go away but it will focus on the small data centers with 3+ servers.


So how much will this cost? A vSphere ROBO pack for 25 VMs costs $3000 list for the standard edition and $4500 list for the advanced edition (which has a 4vCPUs max for fault tolerance instead of the standard 2vCPU limit, plus host profiles, auto deploy and a distributed vSwitch).

StorMagic indicated that the majority of their ROBO deployments fit in the 2TB – 4TB range, which costs respectively $2000 and $3000 list. Keep in mind your ROBO pack license can be spread across multiple sites and your 7 app, 2TB ROBO environment will cost less than $3000 list price in licensing. Add two low cost, entry level servers and you have a tiny, high available virtual infrastructure that you can manage from your central vCenter server at ACME© HQ.

My thoughts on vSphere ROBO + SvSAN

As I wrote last year I was mightily impressed by the SvSAN product and the company StorMagic. It’s refreshing to see a company that knows what it’s good at and which part of the market it wants to conquer and which other part it’s not interested in (like the small DCs). I think the collective opinion of the Storage Field Day 6 delegates was that StorMagic could grab a lot more market share than it was initially (and publicly 🙂 ) aiming for at that time. No doubt this partnership with VMware will be a big push in the right direction! I can’t wait to play with it in a lab and have no doubt I will be seeing it in the field soon…