Tintri VMstore review: Fast as flash, cheap as disk

Tintri's hybrid array delivers superfast storage and supersimple storage management for virtual machines

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At a Glance
  • Tintri VMstore T800 Series

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The world of storage is in the throes of a significant upheaval, as the increasing affordability of flash and the ubiquity of virtualization spark new and innovative approaches to the back-end storage array. Among the new storage companies at the forefront of this revolution is Tintri, whose founders came out of companies such as VMware and Data Domain. Tintri's VMstore appliance combines flash, disk, inline deduplication, and other software magic to provide cost-effective, high-performance storage specifically for virtual machines.

I tested the Tintri VMstore in a VMware environment, but as of Tintri OS 3.0 and 3.1 (which arrived in August and November, respectively) the VMstore also supports Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Microsoft Windows Hyper-V. In addition, Version 3.1 brings new capabilities for disaster recovery through tight integration with VMware's Site Recovery Manager, encryption for data at rest, and support for PowerShell scripting.

ReplicateVM and CloneVM are two Tintri capabilities that implement features also found within the VMware domain. (ReplicateVM is not part of the base product and requires an additional license.) The difference is that these features take advantage of the Tintri architecture to perform the replication and cloning tasks with maximum efficiency. CloneVM has the ability to create clones from current or past snapshots, as well as on a remote site. Similarly, SnapVM adds a number of features to the snapshot process with the ability to scale up to 128 snapshots per VM and thousands per data store.

Tintri architecture

At the heart of the Tintri design is a focus on the virtual machine, rather than volumes or LUNs (logical unit numbers), as the object of storage management. Management tasks operate directly on virtual disks, while monitoring is done at the VM level. This makes the VMstore remarkably simple to install and manage. The other key piece of the Tintri architecture is the company's patented "flash first" design, which entails writing everything to flash and attempting to keep hot data there so that all reads come from the flash tier as well.

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