Tintri was founded in 2008 and produces disk arrays for WMware
virtualisation. The company’s VMstore appliance has been designed to deliver optimised storage for VMware vSphere. The VMstore OS and file system taps into vSphere to ensure storage bottle necks are minimised. The VMstore IP is further based on exploiting SSD flash for improved overall workload performance.

While VMware radically improved server virtualisation, customers often found their efforts to control storage workloads to be laborious and they negatively impacted the overall performance of IT workloads. Tintri is run by a number of executives with a background in VMware or storage ventures with a goal to develop innovation in order to bridge the gap between virtual machines and storage.

VMware grew into a dominant position in x86 server hypervisors by adopting a partner model which is friendly to any hardware or software vendors, despite being majority owned by EMC. This was so successful that an ecosystem has developed around the VMware product family. VMware has to balance that it promotes (1) its core hypervisor revenues, (2) its add-on module revenues, (3) its eco-system innovators and (4) APIs for its eco-system. This balancing act is challenging because although the overall goal is to maximise VMware revenues, 3rd parties may develop IP which VMware could have developed itself. It could be argued that because VMware is facilitating such a large set of parallel initiatives and complex partner networks, VMware’s overall impetus is slowed down as a result.

Tintri believes it has plenty of head start with its appliance model, despite VMware openly declaring that it has a large amount engineers dedicated to improve the performance of storage on its hypervisors. Tintri is targeting IT data centres with a large base of VMs running and upwards of 6 ESXs. With an entry price of $90K, Tintri states that competitive array offerings are charged at $500K. The company currently cites 50 customers and 70 employees both of which are growing. Recently growth is pursued through regional expansion in EMEA and APAC. In June 2011, the company completed series C funding of $18M. The company is not articulating a desire for a fast route to IPO.

Customers should explore how their current workloads are bound by their current storage infrastructure and proactively how server and storage hypervisors are developing.

The IT industry need to realise that storage in hypervisor environments are undergoing change and customers are likely to make significant changes to their storage setup.

Image credit: Diamond Hoo Ha Man

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