Tintri Storage is Virtualization Aware

Tintri Storage is Virtualization Aware

January 25, 2018 0

Simply put, this is the inherent ability of a storage system to understand which data corresponds to which VM. Leading virtualization software platforms VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V support NAS protocols: NFSv3 and SMB, respectively. When operating with NAS-based storage, a VM’s virtual disks correspond to individual files on the NAS server. Most VMs are made up of a small number of metadata files, and a small number of large files corresponding to virtual disk images.

Leveraging APIs presented by the virtualization software, such as VMware vCenter Server, the storage can interrogate the virtualization infrastructure to learn the mapping of VMs to files. When processing a given IO operation associated with a given virtual disk file, the storage system can map the file back to the actual VM it belongs to and apply appropriate VM-specific policies. In addition, due to the fact that any given IO in a NAS environment must always identify which file is being operated upon, the storage system also knows which VM is being operated upon.

Thus, every sort of VM-specific policy can be applied, such as:

  • QoS to the processing of individual IOs
  • Space reservations on a per-VM basis
  • The ability to perform data management on the basis of small groupings of files
    • That is, of course, if the storage system is designed with this granular functionality of VM management in mind (as in the case of Tintri VMstore)

A Modern Approach to Shared Storage

Purpose-built for VMs and focused specifically on the problems of VM storage, Tintri VMstore provides management at the same level as the rest of the virtual infrastructure.

Tintri VMstore is managed in terms of VMs and virtual disks, not LUNs or volumes. The Tintri OS is built from scratch to meet the demands of a VM environment, and to provide features relevant to VMs. It is designed to use flash efficiently and reliably while leveraging key technologies like deduplication, compression and automatic data placement to deliver 99% of IO from flash.

These innovations shift the focus from managing storage as a separately configured component to managing VMs as a whole. This overcomes the performance, management, and cost obstacles that prevent more of the computing infrastructure  from being virtualized. Our sharp focus on creating a better storage system for VMs enables us to build a fundamentally new type of product.

Building a VM-focused management interface relies on far more than just an attractive GUI. The underlying storage system natively understands and supports storage management operations such as performance and capacity monitoring, snapshots, QoS management, and replication at the VM level.

Focusing exclusively on VMs enables Tintri to eliminate unnecessary levels of mapping and complexity required by general purpose storage systems. Decision-making is delegated to lower levels of the system and achieves much higher levels of automation and optimization than is possible for general-purpose storage systems. The result is an agile architecture with much simpler abstractions and interfaces, which in turn facilitates further automation and optimization.

The way Tintri focuses on VMs is most apparent in the VMstore management interface, which presents VMs as the basic units of management, rather than LUNs, volumes, or files. Every object in the interface is familiar to VM administrators. The interface is straightforward enough for VM administrators to manage storage directly, yet sophisticated enough for storage administrators to leverage their expertise in managing storage for large numbers of VMs. Titntri VMstore stores and analyzes virtual machine files in a way that can best be describe as “VM Awareness.”

Block vs. File

Legacy block storage vendors often argue that block storage protocols are somehow more efficient than file storage protocols, but that’s wrong. If this was indeed ever the case, it has certainly not been the case for the last decade, or perhaps even longer. VMware’s own data demonstrates that ESXi’s performance doesn’t suffer in any way using file storage protocols vs. block protocols. In other words, there is no benefit to using a block protocol for hosting VMs.

Simplifying network configurations and providing the ability to map per-VM operations directly to the files within underlying storage systems makes it clear that file-based protocols are a good match for virtualization storage, enabling VM-aware storage.