A Simple Out-of-the-Box Experience

A Simple Out-of-the-Box Experience

January 25, 2018 0

Tintri provides a simple, out-of-the-box experience, simple configuration, and easy upgrades. In fact, it’s so easy to use that it redefines time to productivity.

Traditional storage vendors emphasize time from box to rack, or time to command prompt, or time to format the first RAID. But this doesn’t encompass all the choices the customer has to make. The decisions include:

  • Which RAID configuration to use
  • Optimizing for random or sequential IO
  • The number of LUNS or volumes needed to break up a multi-terabyte array
  • Whether to use NFS, iSCI or some other topology
  • The real time it takes to set up an array from unboxing until deployment, including moving existing VMs to the new array

Tintri understands those concerns, which is why it was built with the goal of minimizing time to productivity. It starts with zero low-level storage configuration. Simply rack the unit, plug it into the network, give it an IP address, connect it to the hypervisors and start migrating or deploying VMs. It takes place in less than 1 hour; usually less than 30 minutes, in fact.

How is this possible? It starts with the fact that the RAID is installed to “best practice” standards — RAID 6, hot spares, parity disks — at the factory, ready to go. None of this is exposed to the user for customization. The result is zero configuration.

In addition, the Tintri file system can be highly-optimized for a single standard configuration. This is preferable compared to a less-optimized solution that needs to be flexible enough for an almost infinite number of possible storage configurations, including:

  • Different RAID types
  • Different RAID sizes
  • Caching options
  • Block types
  • NAS types

Also, note that Tintri is Ethernet-only. This is purposeful, as supporting both Fibre Channel and Ethernet requires optimizing two very different physical protocols.

The Tintri file system is a single RAID group, making it effectively a single LUN/Volume. This means dedupe and compression happens across all VMs, containers and objects in the file system.

In addition, the Tintri file system is separate from the data transport protocol, which means it can support multiple concurrent hypervisors without partitioning the file system; the underlying file system is one unit.

Currently, Tintri supports NFS for most hypervisors and SMB3 for Hyper-V to move the data between Tintri system and hypervisors. But creating separate SMB3 and NFS volumes for each hypervisor does not have be done, avoiding the problems of guessing wrong about the sizes needed. More transport protocols can be added without affecting the file system.

Each Tintri array shows up as a single “datastore” object in each hypervisor, regardless of how large it is, anywhere from 10TB to 640TB. This greatly reduces the number of storage objects needed to manage by a factor of 20 times or more compared to traditional storage. In traditional storage scenarios, a single array is often broken up into 20 or more LUNS or volumes, each of which needs to be managed.

Configuration Issues

As mentioned before, Tintri’s configuration for storage constructs is zero. Configuration is concentrated instead on storage services: snapshots, replication, copy data management, cloning, etc.

When you consider that network configuration is still not plug and play, the value becomes clear. Complexity is reduced by only having to configure networking for 1 LUN or volume, vs. multiple ones.

Since all Tintri configuration is per-VM or per-VM group, policies take effect instantly and change instantly, in place, without having to move objects from a LUN with one policy to another LUN with another policy. That is an inefficiency which has to be scheduled to reduce delays in production. The type of in-place policy management offered by Tintri reduces the friction of managing these policies.

Tintri’s advanced technology also helps smooth the rough edges of typical storage. Things like array offloading for storage live migration for VMware (using VAAI and lots of Tintri software) and Hyper-V (using SMB3 ODX) reduces the non-application-centric considerations for making changes to storage by greatly reducing or eliminating the storage impact of balancing a storage pool, by live migrating VMS from one storage to another.


Individual Tintri systems are balanced between CPU/Memory and storage capacity to deliver predictable, high-performance computing. Here are just two examples of some of the available upgrades to make it even better:

  • The All-Flash Series EC6000 allows drive-by-drive capacity upgrades for up to 7,500 virtualized applications in just two rack units.
  • Dual controllers in active-standby HA configuration allows you to upgrade the controller software during production, with no loss of performance.

Tintri also makes it easy to upgrade to the latest codebase, so they can take advantage of the latest features.

VM Awareness Makes Management Simpler

The goal is manage the apps and VMs, and not the storage. Tintri makes that happen. To start with, there are very few settings at the low storage level. Everything comes preinstalled with best practices.

That means management occurs at the VM level. Contrast that with traditional storage, which manages QoS, replication, snapshots, etc. at the LUN or volume level. In that setting, it’s necessary to be aware of which storage LUN your VM is in. If you move it, you lose a lot of things: snapshots, policies, historical info, and more. There may need to be a full storage live migration to move it.

Not so with Tintri. Policies can be changed on a VM without moving it; it takes place instantly, and does not affect other VMs. You never need to know which LUN or volume a VM is in to know what its policies are, since it’s a function of the VM, not its storage location.

This VM awareness also comes into play in the area of translation between VM and storage. Translation is one major reason it is difficult to do automation with traditional storage. Translation is not simple, and either requires very custom logic that turns into brittle, inflexible code, or a manual handoff which takes time.

Again, the advantage is with Tintri. With everything at the VM level, management and automation is much easier, since there’s no translating between VM and storage.

Finally, don’t forget about simplification. One array equals one datastore. That means just one thing to manage, from the storage point of view. Compare that to traditional storage, for Tintri’s largest 640TB array. It would not be unusual for the array to be split into 20-50 LUNs or volumes, each of which has to be managed as a storage object in the hypervisor. If you have 10 hypervisor servers, that’s 500 connections to be defined and maintained, vs. 10 connections with Tintri. It’s a no-brainer.