Testing Tintri’s Lightning Lab and Pizza

Disclaimer: I was offered a pizza to write this post.  I haven’t taken up the offer yet, but I will be.

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I had the opportunity to test drive Tintri’s “Lightning Lab” about six months ago and the nice folks at Tintri thought I might like to post about my experiences. They’ve offered me a pizza for my troubles which, coincidentally, ties in nicely with their current promotion “The Tintri Pizza Challenge“. If you’re in the US or Canada it’s worth checking it out.

In any case, the Lightning Lab is Tintri’s internet accessible lab that showcases a number of its arrays and provides you with an opportunity to take their gear for a spin. From a hardware perspective it’s pretty well provisioned, with T5060, T880, T620 & T540 arrays, along with a Dell R720 host with 128GB of RAM and 2 Dell R610 servers with 48GB of RAM. From a software perspective, the version of the lab I used had VMware vSphere 5.5U2b installed, but I believe this has been since updated. There’s also a functional version of Tintri Global Center, and both the Web Client Plug-in and the vROps plugin configured. Networking wise, management runs overs a 1GbE Dell switch, with Data travelling via a 10GbE Arista switch.

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Global Center has a pretty neat login screen. Like all good admins, I use many dots in my password too.

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There’s a bunch of stuff I could show from the interface, but one of my favourite bits is the ability to see an aggregated view of your deployed VMstores.

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The interface is simple to operate and painfully colourful too. It’s also simple to navigate and makes it really easy to get a quick view of what’s going on in your environment without having to do a lot of digging.

 

Conclusion

There’s a lot more I could write about Tintri. If you’re aligned with their use case (NFS-only), they have a compelling offering that’s worth checking out. The Lightning Lab is an excellent tool to take their platform for a spin and gain a good understanding of just what you can do with the VMstore and Global Center. I think these kind of offerings are great, and not just because there’s pizza involved. If more storage vendors read this and think that they should be doing something like this, then that’s a great thing. I’ve barely scratched the surface, so you should head over to Andrea Mauro’s blog and check out his thorough write-up of his Lightning Lab experience.

Tintri Announces New Scale-Out Storage Platform

I’ve had a few briefings with Tintri now, and talked about Tintri’s T5040 here. Today they announced a few enhancements to their product line, including:

  • Nine new Tintri VMstore T5000 all flash models with capacity expansion capabilities;
  • VM Scale-out software;
  • Tintri Analytics for predictive capacity and performance planning; and
  • Two new Tintri Cloud offerings.

 

Scale-out Storage Platform

You might be familiar with the T5040, T5060 and T5080 models, with the Tintri VMstore T5000 all-flash series being introduced in August 2015. All three models have been updated with new capacity options ranging from 17 TB to 308 TB. These systems use the latest in 3D NAND technology and high density drives to offer organizations both higher capacity and lower $/GB.

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The new models have the following characteristics:

  • Federated pool of storage. You can now treat multiple Tintri VMstores—both all-flash and hybrid-flash nodes—as a pool of storage. This makes management, planning and resource allocation a lot simpler. You can have up to 32 VMstores in a pool.
  • Scalability and performance. The storage platform is designed to scale to more than one million VMs. Tintri tell me that the  “[s]eparation of control flow from data flow ensures low latency and scalability to a very large number of storage nodes”.
  • This allows you to scale from small to very large with new and existing, all flash and hybrid, partially or fully populated systems.
  • The VM Scale-out software works across any standard high performance Ethernet network, eliminating the need for proprietary interconnects. The VM Scale-out software automatically provides best placement recommendation for VMs.
  • Scale compute and storage independently. Loose coupling of storage and compute provides customers with maximum flexibility to scale these elements independently. I think this is Tintri’s way of saying they’re not (yet) heading down the hyperconverged path.

 

VM Scale-out Software

Tintri’s new VM Scale-out Software (*included with Tintri Global Center Advanced license) provides the following capabilities:

  • Predictive analytics derived from one million statistics collected every 10 minutes from 30 days of history, accounting for peak loads instead of average loads, providing (according to Tintri) for the most accurate predictions. Deep workload analysis identifies VMs that are growing rapidly and applies sophisticated algorithms to model the growth ahead and avoid resource constraints.
  • Least-cost optimization based on multi-dimensional modelling. Control algorithm constantly optimizes across the thousands of VMs in each pool of VMstores, taking into account space savings, resources required by each VM, and the cost in time and data to move VMs, and makes the least-cost recommendation for VM migration that optimizes the pool.
  • Retain VM policy settings and stats. When a VM is moved, not only are the snapshots moved with the VM, the stastistics,  protection and QoS policies migrate as well using efficient compressed and deduplicated replication protocol.
  • Supports all major hypervisors.

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You can check out a YouTube video on Tintri VM Scale-out (covering optimal VM distribution) here.

 

Tintri Analytics
Tintri has always offered real-time, VM-level analytics as part of its Tintri Operating System and Tintri Global Center management system. This has now been expanded to include a SaaS offering of predictive analytics that provides organizations with the ability to model both capacity and performance requirements. Powered by big data engines such as Apache Spark and Elastic Search, Tintri Analytics is capable of analyzing stats from 500,000 VMs over several years in one second.  By mining the rich VM-level metadata, Tintri Analytics provides customers with information about their environment to help them make better decisions about applications’ behaviours and storage needs.

Tintri Analytics is a SaaS tool that allows you to model storage needs up to 6 months into the future based on up to 3 years of historical data.

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Here is a shot of the dashboard. You can see a few things here, including:

  • Your live resource usage for your entire footprint up to 32 VMstores;
  • Average consumption per VM (bottom left); and
  • The types of applications that are your largest consumers of Capacity, Performance and Working Set (bottom center).

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Here you can see exactly how your usage of capacity, performance and working set have been trending over time. You can see also when you can expect to run out of these resources (and which is on the critical path). It also provides the ability to change the timeframe to alter the projections, or drill into specific application types to understand their impact on your footprint.

There are a number of videos covering Tintri Analytics that I think are worth checking out:

 

Tintri Cloud Suites

Tintri have also come up with a new packaging model called “Tintri Cloud”. Aimed at folks still keen on private cloud deployments, Tintri Cloud combines the Tintri Scale-out platform and the all-flash VMstores.

Customers can start with a single Tintri VMstore T5040 with 17 TB of effective capacity and scale out to the Tintri Foundation Cloud with 1.2 PB in as few as 8 rack units. Or they can grow all the way to the Tintri Ultimate Cloud, which delivers a 10 PB cloud-ready storage infrastructure for up to 160,000 VMs, delivering over 6.4 million IOPS in 64 RU for less than $1/GB effective. Both the Foundation Cloud and Ultimate Cloud include Tintri’s complete set of software offerings for storage management, VM-level analytics, VM Scale-out, replication, QoS, and lifecycle management.

 

Further Reading and Thoughts

There’s another video covering setting policies on groups of VMs in Tintri Global Center here. You might also like to check out the Tintri Product Launch webinar.

Tintri have made quite a big deal about their “VM-aware” storage in the past, and haven’t been afraid to call out the bigger players on their approach to VM-centric storage. While I think they’ve missed the mark with some of their comments, I’ve enjoyed the approach they’ve taken with their own products. I’ve also certainly been impressed with the demonstrations I’ve been given on the capability built into the arrays and available via Global Center. Deploying workload to the public cloud isn’t for everyone, and Tintri are doing a bang-up job of going for those who still want to run their VM storage decoupled from their compute and in their own data centre. I love the analytics capability, and the UI looks to be fairly straightforward and informative. Trending still seems to be a thing that companies are struggling with, so if a dashboard can help them with further insight then it can’t be a bad thing.

Tintri Announces New VMstore T5040

If you’re a vExpert, you might know that Tintri have frequently (and very kindly) provided polo shirts to vExperts. You’re also probably aware that Tintri do a lot more than just free shirts for community vnerds. They also have a bit to do with VM-aware storage. To that end, Tintri recently announced the release of the Tintri VMstoreTM T5040, a new entry-level all-flash storage array.

The data sheet can be found here, but in a nutshell, the specs of the T5040 are as follows:

  • OS 4.1 or higher
  • 1,500 VMs (max)
  • 18TB effective capacity
  • 5.76TB RAW Flash capacity
  • 4 10GbE Network ports
  • 2RU (same as the T5080 and T5060)
  • 455W / 1550BTU (slightly less than the T5080 and T5060)

Additional software includes:

 

As well as this, Tintri will be hosting a webinar on December 10, 2015 previewing Tintri Analytics with predictive analytics capabilities. According to Tintri, “Tintri Analytics will build on this same native VM-level metadata to be the only solution in the market to leverage the VM Aware Storage insights to provide a realistic profile of your VMs and applications to model growth of applications and additional need for capacity and performance”.

 

The Tintri VMstore T5040 and Tintri OS 4.1 will be generally available in December 2015. The Tintri VMstore T5040 is available immediately for ordering worldwide. Tintri OS 4.1 will be available as a free upgrade to all Tintri VMstore customers with a current support contract. You can read more about it at The Register and at StorageReview.com.