Tintri adds new VM-aware features and VAAI Support

During VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, I had a chance to catch up once again with the team from Tintri. My first introduction to Tintri was at last year’s VMworld, where they received runner-up in the ‘Hardware for Virtualization’ category by TechTarget for best of VMworld 2011. Well this year they went one better, and won the Best of VMworld 2012 Gold award in Hardware for Virtualization. And for good reason. Let’s see the enhancements to the Tintri platform over the last 12 months have brought.

 Snapshot & Cloning Capabilities

Tintri were one of the first VM-Aware arrays. All the operations on the array were built around the VM. In fact, this is something that VMware is also embracing with the tech preview of virtual volumes that was given in this year’s VMworld keynote, so Tintri are ahead of the curve here. With a VM-aware array, snapshots and clones are done on a per-VM basis rather than on a per LUN or per volume basis. This approach gives customers greater operational granularity and space savings. The demo given to me by Ed Lee (Tintri Chief Architect) and Kieran Harty (Tintri CEO) at this years VMworld 2012 in San Francisco was very captivating. Ed showed me their ability to create many hundreds of VM snapshots/clones in the space of seconds. All of these snapshots and clones are thinly provisioned and already space efficient, so that any unused space can be reclaimed by the array. The space efficiency aspect is something that VMware are also embracing with the announcement of SE Sparse Disks in vSphere 5.1. Incorporated into the Tintri snapshot and clone mechanism are VSS callbacks for quiescing applications and filesystems within the Guest Operating System so that consistent snapshots can be taken. Tintri also have the ability to use existing VMware customization specifications to customize snapshot/clone copies of the VM from a Guest OS (sysprep) perspective.  These features, combined with support for VCAI (View Composer Array Integration) in View 5.1 lend themselves very nicely to VDI, and it comes as no surprise that Tintri have positioned themselves as an ‘array of choice’ for VMware View implementations, amongst other enterprise applications.

VAAI Integration

Tintri’s VM-aware datastore is in fact NFS, so it is nice to see that they have fully supported the VAAI-NAS primitives. VAAI is short for VMware’s vSphere Storage APIs for Array Integration. The first of the primitives implemented is the extended statistics feature. This is where details about the actual space consumed on the ‘storage pool’ on the array can be surfaced up into vSphere. This allows admins to more easily understand the storage consumption rate and plan in advance for additional storage, rather than ‘fire-fighting’ when disk space suddenly runs out. The second primitives related to the implementation of the Reserve Space primitive, which allows you to create thick provisioned VMs on NFS datastores so that you don’t need to worry about your VM running out of space as it writes to new areas of the virtual disk. The third and most impressive feature is the implementation of the File Cloning primitives, which allows you to create clones from the vSphere GUI on Tintri in just a couple of seconds, regardless of the size of the VM that you are cloning! You can learn more about VAAI and the different primitives from a post I did on the vSphere Storage blog here.

Futures

Ed also gave me a sneak-peak at their upcoming replication technology. Basically, again because this is VM-aware storage, replication can be done between arrays on a per VM basis. One of the stand out parts of their replication technology is the ability to make a clone copy of the replica at the destination and verify that it does indeed power-on and the application running in the Guest OS is in a consistent state. Tintri have plans to integrate this replication technology with VMware’s Site recovery Manager product, but no timeframes on that just yet. One of the things which I quite liked was the ability to observe the replication network bandwidth savings due to dedupe and compression within the UI. While many vendors claim dedupe and compression ratios, Tintri put it right out there for you to see for yourself. Very nice.

You can learn more about their new enhancements here. Tintri will also be making their second VMworld EMEA appearance in Barcelona this year. I’d urge you to go along and see them.

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