This week I got to talk with Ed Lee – Architect and Chris Bennet – VP Marketing both over at Tintri about the new VMstore storage array for VMware virtualize environments. They walked me through the product and gave sort of a deep dive into what the product does and what sets this storage array apart from what’s available today. I’ll point out some of the features that sets them apart from other vendors and then some future things they’re looking at improving with the product.
- NFS Only – So the product support NFS only. While this is not inherently bad some customers might not give it a fair shake. It seems that NFS is getting more attention though. This can be attributed to 10gig ethernet, flash/ssd drives, and optimizations in protocol. There are some benefits to using NFS over iSCSI or Fibre Channel (FC) like for one there is no defined maximum for lun or volume size. There is a define number of supported mounts per host but if your not bound to that 2T limit per lun or volume (in vSphere 4.x) it’s not a big issue as long as you can provide the performance, capacity, and/or IOPS required. NFS is also easier in my opinion to implement since you don’t have to worry about creating raid sets, raid groups, luns, etc. Their even saying that you can get 200 – 300 VM guests running on a single datastore.
- VM-aware – The system knows VMware file types so it can really dig deeper into what’s really going on with storage at the VM level. The management software breaks the VM guest down to VMDK and even VM Swap files, giving you granular monitoring and control.
- Performance Pinning – You can pin or give more performance to a single VM guest data file if need be. So you can guarantee performance without dedicating an entire datastore.
- Flash SSD – The system is optimized with SSD to reduce latency for reads as well as writes making the none flash drives run as if they were.
- Inline Compression & De-duplication – I have seen this cause noticeable slowness in other arrays that did not include flash SSD so it would be nice to see first hand what the performance would be with the Tintri appliance. Update: To improve performance with inline compression and de-duplication the VMstore only uses flash for these operations.
- 8.5 Terabytes – Currently there is only an 8.5 terabyte model for customers to purchase. There is dedup and compression so you should get better storage utilization. Note: 8.5 terabytes is all usable space.
So there are some things that you could are missing. Arguably one could say that some of these missing factors could be a deal breaker but either way here’s what I noticed was not there.
- Multi-node management – For environment that will deploy more than one of these devices are left to management each node as one. Note: I was told that there are plans for centralized management of multiple nodes in the future.
- SNMP support – This may not be that important to some and there is an email alerting built in. For environments that already have monitoring systems in place it would be beneficial to have SNMP on the appliance.
- Dual Controllers – Added redundancy is always welcome especially when you packing so much more into this storage appliance. Note: I was told that their working on this and have plans for dual controllers in the future.
- iSCSI Option – NFS rides the network so some customers might not like the fact that they don’t get an option. In the past NFS was always last to get feature support when compared to block protocols like iSCSI and FC. Since VMware is the only hypervisor supported at this time one could be left waiting to use something they paid for with VMware.
- Multi Hypervisor Support – This may not be a problem if you’ve standardized on VMware. But if you don’t like vendor lock in, you may pass until other vendors are supported.
All in all it seem to be a great product from what I have seen so far. Sorry to say I have not had the chance to have first hand experience with the appliance but hopefully I’ll get to see and touch at VMworld this year.