Tintri – VMs without LUNs are happier?

I had to stay away from technology after being overwhelmed at VMworld last week. Now that I am back to senses, I had to point out the coolest tool that I saw at VMworld. Tintri blew me away from the get go. They were very professional all along the process. They contacted me before the conference to setup an appointment and scheduled  demo for me while I was there. This one was important as Duncan himself spoke very highly of the product. I was in for a surprise. Not really being a storage guy myself, I thought stuff will simply fly over my head.

Once the demo began, I could feel my eyeball growing in size almost to a size of a golfball. I had so many ahh haa moments during the demo. I will not try to explain everything that it does as there website does a pretty decent job in explaining what it has to offer. But in a nutshell, Tintri offers a NFS solution that is a mix of SATA and SSD. So whats really awesome about that? What makes Tintri really great is its manageability and the fact that its VM aware and would pretty much be useless for anything else. Yes, each I/O request maps directly to the virtual disk. Whats even better is that management of storage. It has a very simple user interface that enables you to see exactly whats happening on your storage side. You can look at capacity, latency all that good stuff without being a conventional storage admin.

From the performance side, one thing I liked was the mix of SATA and SSD which means only active data is kept in flash. Think swap! Now I know cache to host or swap to SSD in vSphere 5 will enable you to swap on SSD and what not. But that setup is based on having your swap files on a SSD and preferably locally on the host, you could also have an SSD LUN. But thats another aspect that has to be managed. With Tintri, you will just format your datastore, create your VMs and the appliance will decide when to use flash on its own. It is fool proof indeed. You can also pin files to flash if you always want certain files to run on flash, but I would think the algorithm in the appliance will probably make a smarter decision unless you have a very specific need. Perhaps, you are trying to please your CTO and want to make sure his/her VM is always lightening fast.

As much as I loved the product there are a few things that I think its missing. As of today, it does not have replication, however, that will happen very shortly from what I was told. Also, you can’t expand your datastore to span across multiple Tintri appliances, but maybe I am still thinking in the traditional way. Perhaps if your goal is to have multiple SLAs, there are possible plans for having Tintri appliances with different configurations to support that. All in all, I think its definitely a product worth looking at. It, has all the redundancies built in like one would expect and I can only expect it to get better with time. The user interface and simple manageability was the big thing for me. If you are looking for an NFS solution for a virtual environment, Tintri is not a product that should be ignored. Sooner or later you will end up playing with it. Start looking at it sooner to stay ahead. :)

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