Tintri Ships World’s First Production VM-aware Storage System

I thought this was interesting. Tintri’s co-founder and CEO happens to be Dr. Kieran Harty, who  led all desktop and server research and product development at VMware from 1999 through 2006.

Tintri VMstore for the first time allows enterprises to virtualize many different kinds of mission-critical applications such as Oracle Financials and Microsoft Exchange that previously could only run on standalone systems with legacy direct-attached or SAN storage. Tintri VMstore is already in production use helping enterprises manage and store virtual machines at a wide range of companies in global electronics, mobile games, geo-informatics, technology, higher education and more. In most enterprises today, less than 30 percent of their IT infrastructure is virtualized. While some companies have expanded beyond this, they continue to face significant challenges of cost, complexity and performance with existing storage solutions. By some estimates, storage now accounts for more than 20 percent of typical enterprise IT budgets and up to 60 percent of virtualization budgets. Tintri brought together a unique research and development team drawing on industry-leading experts from Citrix, EMC/Data Domain, Google, NetApp, Sun Microsystems and VMware and others to build the world’s first VM-aware storage system, VMstore. VMstore includes many significant features to optimize performance and to simplify the management of VM storage at scale, including:

  • VM-aware file system designed to service I/O workloads from VMs;
  • Seamless flash/disk integration with file system for smooth workload transitions and efficient use of flash capacity;
  • Monitoring, control and reporting features on a per-VM and per-virtual disk basis for greater transparency in managing storage for VMs;
  • Hybrid flash/disk appliances with inline deduplication and compression capabilities.

From operational/management perspective Tintri VMstore does change things. Tintri VMstore is VM aware, which of course is easier to accomplish when you develop your own filesystem and serve it up as NFS than when using block-based storage. Tintri leverages the VMware vSphere APIs and correlates information with what they have running on top their filesystem. Now why would you want to do that? Well for instance for simple things like Storage Level snapshots per VM, try doing that on the average FC/iSCSI array and you find yourself snapshotting a full LUN or assigning dedicated LUNs to VMs. In both case not an ideal situation.

What makes VMstore special is that on top of the integration with vSphere they also do inline deduplication and compression, meaning that although a 5u VMstore node (5u includes a UPS system) offers you 8.5 TB of usable harddisk capacity it could potentially serve multitudes of that. (Depending on the type of workload of course.) But when it is doing inline dedupe and compression what about performance? Tintri VMstore offers 16 SATA drives. No not just SATA as that probably wouldn’t meet all your performance requirements, no they also offer MLC Flash aka SSD and that is where the dedupe and compression is done. In other words, in order to enable inline dedupe and compression Tintri developed a hybrid filesystem that moves data between SSD and SATA. By the way, VMstore uses RAID-6 for the 1TB of SSD drives it contains and for the 16x1TB SATA drives. If data needs to move it decides that on a pretty granular level, 4kb. Of course VMstore is smart enough to batch these transfers to optimize bandwidth.

Price is about $65,000for 8tb of usable storage including 1tb of ssd and the mentioned features.


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