Road to VMworld 2013

Storage For the Modern Data Center

Kieran Harty, CEO of Tintri, recently took time to speak with Virtualization Review magazine about industry trends and how his company's products address customers' needs.

Kieran Harty, CEO of Tintri, recently took time to speak with Virtualization Review magazine about industry trends and how his company's products address customers' needs.

Virtualization Review: What are some of the trends you've spotted in the virtualization market recently?

Kieran Harty: What we've seen has been a huge push toward increased virtualization on both the enterprise side and on the cloud service provider side, especially for tier one applications and virtual desktops. As a result, a lot of the infrastructure needs to change in order to support virtualization more explicitly.

Quite a few years ago, Intel introduced technology that made it easier to virtualize server workloads. Cisco created switches that were aware of virtual machines, and then came companies doing software-defined networking, which is really building on the concept of making virtual machines the core element of the data center.

The area that's really been a laggard is storage, and we feel like that's the area where we can bring real innovation and lead the market. The trend over time will be not to build storage in the same way you built it 20 years ago but instead build storage specifically for the modern data center and the modern service provider, which are essentially all virtualized.

VRM: How is Tintri addressing the need for virtualized storage?

Harty: What we set out to do, from the time we founded the company in 2008, was take advantage of the fact that, over time, most workloads would be virtualized. People were moving toward the cloud, either public or private or a hybrid, which is a virtual environment. In many companies now, virtualization has become the de facto standard for how applications are deployed in their enterprise data centers.

We saw this new fully-virtualized world coming four to five years out from when we started, and that it actually made sense for us to build storage specifically for virtualized environments. So, rather than being built like the traditional general-purpose SAN or NAS products, which were basically designed and architected 20 years ago, were able to build something explicitly intended for virtual machines instead of physical machines.

Our flagship product, Tintri VMstore, is a storage appliance purpose-built for virtual environments. The primary benefit you get from this kind of storage is essentially offering zero-management storage for VMs. The big advantage that our customers see is that it's much simpler than traditional enterprise storage and can be managed by the virtualization people in a data center. That can be very cost effective, and it has the enterprise features people expect from traditional arrays. It's essentially purpose-built storage for virtualized environments. The net effect is that data center administrators can turn their focus to managing their VM data rather than having to constantly configure, tune and troubleshoot their storage system. We've essentially completely removed the burden of storage management for these environments.

VRM: What kinds of benefits are your customers experiencing with your technology?

Harty: The consistent theme that comes up is simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. At the same time, it does come back to economics, and in terms of economics it's really about the storage cost per virtual machine. One of our appliances can support 1,000 desktops or 300 to 500 server VMs, so it becomes extremely economical relative to what other vendors have on the market.

Last quarter, we became the first storage array to support replication at a VM-level granularity. In a traditional storage array, you replicate an entire volume, which may include tens or potentially even hundreds of virtual machines. We've changed that so that you can replicate right down to individual VMs. The benefit of that is fundamentally around being at least a factor of 10 more efficient in terms of how we use network bandwidth, which can often be very, very significant for customers.

VRM: Who is your target customer?

Harty: The market that we're going after is mid-size enterprise and above. Companies that actually value some of the features that we have but also still care about simplicity in their environments. We're not cheap storage, but we're economic for customers that would traditionally be with other vendors.

We brought our first product to market in 2011 and we now have over 200 customers, including Kawasaki, NEC BIGLOBE, a division of Mitsubishi, quite a few players in the entertainment space, as well as companies in the financial, legal and medical professions including a number of large banks, financial services companies, hospitals and international law firms. Technology companies also represent a strong customer segment including companies like F5, TIBCO and AMD. We have seen a huge amount of customer enthusiasm in bringing this product to market. The benefits of Tintri storage for VMs are not just ease of management, but also the ability to support extremely high virtual machine density from a single storage device.

For more on Tintri, go to http://www.tintri.com.


About the Author

Lee Pender is the executive features editor of Redmond magazine. You can reach him at lpender@redmondmag.com or follow him on Twitter.

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