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VENDOR PROFILE Tintri A New Approach to Storage for Virtualization

Gary Chen

Virtualization is the new normal in the datacenter, with virtual exceeding physical in new shipments and in the installed workload base. Virtualization has had a ripple effect on the datacenter, affecting every subsystem, especially storage. IDC finds: Customers want to virtualize a larger and larger percentage of their workloads, but challenges of scale and performance are obstacles. IDC data has shown that on the storage side, managing capacity growth and application performance in virtual environments are the top issues. Most customers are aware that storage is usually the most important subsystem that can determine the success or failure of a virtualization deployment. As most customers have already virtualized the easy workloads, the remaining workloads are increasingly mission critical and performance sensitive, demanding a greater level of storage support. The nature of how storage is deployed is also changing with the emergence of converged infrastructure and the role of VM admins, who hold increasingly greater influence in IT. Support, optimization, and integration with virtualization are already key for any storage vendor today as virtualization is ubiquitous and the storage industry continues to focus on solving the unique storage problems that virtualization creates.

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This IDC Vendor Profile analyzes Tintri, a company producing a storage appliance specifically designed for virtual environments, and reviews key success factors: market potential, technology/solution, and corporate strategy.

Company Overview
Tintri, based in Mountain View, California, produces a storage appliance that attaches to and is optimized specifically for virtualized environments. Founded in 2008, Tintri launched out of stealth mode in March 2011. Tintri is VC funded, having completed a Series C round, with a total of $35 million raised to date. The company employs around 55 people, with engineering being the largest group. It has a small marketing team and is growing the sales team rapidly, as

Filing Information: December 2011, IDC #232129, Volume: 1 Storage Solutions: Storage and Virtualized Environments: Vendor Profile

well as continuing to add engineers. Tintri has put together a team with backgrounds in storage as well as in virtualization.

Tintri VMstore
Tintri VMstore was built from the ground up to solve storage problems in virtual environments. Tintri looked at host-based solutions and software-only solutions but ultimately felt that a hardware solution built from scratch was needed. The primary secret sauce is in the file system developed for the device. Being built from scratch for virtualization, the device offers unique features for virtual environments: VMstore manages use of the constructs used in VMware vCenter (VMs, virtual disks) instead of storage constructs (LUNs, volumes, files, RAID groups). VM-aware storage allows easier troubleshooting and performance tuning due to the ability to easily pinpoint where in the stack, from the storage layer to the guest OS layer, the bottleneck or problem is. VMstore is able to determine what percentage of latency is generated from the hypervisor, network, guest OS, file system, or media. VMstore gauges give visibility into available performance and capacity left on the device. Snapshotting takes place at the VM level rather than at the LUN or volume level. VMstore automatically aligns virtual disks to optimize I/O efficiency. VMstore can "pin" individual VMs or virtual disks to flash for high-performance workloads. VMstore is easy to set up and manage. Since the appliance is built only for virtualization, it is already configured and optimized for that use case. Customers simply attach the storage to their VMware vCenter and begin working with VM and virtual disk objects. Users are never exposed to the underlying storage details. Each appliance is a single datastore, making it easy to map into vSphere and to add more devices to scale out. VMstore is offered in two configurations: an 8.5TB (useable capacity), 4U single controller model (model T445) and a 13.5TB (useable capacity), 3U dual controller model (model T540). VMstore is in its second generation, adding auto aligning of virtual disks and the new dual controller model for high availability. The storage array is a hybrid of both spinning disks and SSD in RAID 6 configuration that offers fast performance while keeping the cost down. VMstore has dual 1GbE ports for management and dual 10GbE ports for data for model T445 and quad ports for model T540; the T445 lists for $65,000, and the T540 lists for $95,000. It currently only supports VMware vSphere 4.x and 5.x via NFS, but the architecture is hypervisor agnostic, allowing Tintri to support other hypervisors in the future.


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Company Strategy
The majority of the leadership team has extensive experience in the industry, specifically focusing on storage and virtualization: Kieran Harty: Cofounder and CEO; previously executive VP of R&D at VMware for seven years Mark Gritter: Cofounder and Architect; previously staff engineer at Sun Microsystems Pratik Wadher: VP of Engineering; previously VP of engineering at Data Domain Chris Bennett: VP of Marketing; previously VP of Product Management at NetApp for 10 years Tintri is differentiating itself with several key features unique to virtual environments and marketing its solution as one that takes away the barriers to virtualization, rather than focusing on pure price or performance, though certainly those are areas that must be addressed to some degree. Tintri is focusing on a specific user profile: Heavy virtualizers with over 100 VM admins who are experiencing pain with their virtualization deployments Using VMstore to address specific applications that are difficult to virtualize, such as database Targeting the large enterprise across all verticals Focusing on enabling the storage admin to offer the VM admin self-service Tintri has been using a sales model that has channel engagement in all its deals, led by a direct sales team. VMstore is a complementary subsystem for virtualization and thus generally gets included in larger virtualization deals led by partners that choose Tintri to address certain scenarios. Tintri currently has over 40 customers, which include TIBCO, Digital Chocolate, iPass, Northwestern University, Loyola Marymount University, North West Group, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), and SemmesMurphey Neurologic and Spine Institute. Tintri is primarily United States focused today but is expanding internationally, having recently formed an EMEA sales team. Tintri also has two current distribution partners, NOX in Japan and Zycko in the United Kingdom. Tintri has stated that it has grown more than 100% quarter over quarter since launch.

Tintri has a unique product that homes in on a very specific set of challenges around virtualization. As virtualization has already established itself as the new normal in the datacenter, this lends Tintri many opportunities in the market, especially as customers

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run into a wall regarding virtualization and look for specific solutions that allow them to virtualize more challenging workloads and achieve more scale. The biggest challenge Tintri faces is from large incumbent storage vendors that are able to address a wide variety of storage use cases and insert themselves into enterprises as a single storage source. Certainly, the long-term exit strategy is acquisition by one of these vendors that would look to bolster their virtualization capabilities. But in the short term, Tintri must focus on addressing workloads that others can't. The key will be inserting itself into the right deals. Building out the channel will be critical as VMstore can be folded into larger virtualization deployments as a specific problemsolving solution that the partner identifies. Also, Tintri needs to identify specific workloads that are suited to VMstore and partner with these ISVs and their channels to present VMstore as a solution to bring these workloads into the virtual world. There is a lot of focus in the market today on storage for virtual environments as storage has shown itself to be the most impacted subsystem and the most critical for virtualization success. With a new ground-up approach to storage in virtual environments, Tintri has a unique offering that can be compelling to many advanced virtualizers.

Advice for Tintri
Recruit specific virtualization partners that are in a position to identify scenarios that Tintri can address and bring them into deals. Target specific ISV applications and get inserted into those channels to help virtualize those workloads. Continue to develop best-of-breed VMware integration. VASA and VAAI will be important APIs to support as well as integration with VMware's Storage DRS and profile-driven storage features. Partnering with VMware may be challenging as a smaller vendor but important to stay ahead of the curve in supporting the latest storage APIs and features as virtualization-specific features and integration are Tintri's primary differentiators. Build out a complementary ecosystem that can address issues such as backup, replication, deduplication, and compliance management, and leverage Tintri's VM-specific features to do it better. Begin building support for other virtualization environments. While VMware dominates the market today, major new releases from Microsoft and Red Hat in the coming years are expected to gain share. As the market diversifies, it will be important for Tintri to be able to address the full virtualization market, especially as customers begin adopting multiple hypervisors and look for solutions that can work across heterogeneous environments.


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Virtualization and converged infrastructure have changed the conversation on who is involved with storage decisions. VM admins have been voracious consumers of shared storage and certainly have unique needs. While these admins are important and growing in influence, Tintri must realize that the enterprise IT structure will be slow to change and must not exclude targeting the traditional storage admins as well.

Related Research
Market Analysis Perspective: Worldwide Enterprise Virtualization Software, 2011 (IDC #232074, December 2011) Worldwide Storage and Virtualized x86 Environments 20112015 Forecast (IDC #231080, November 2011) Worldwide Virtual Machine Software 20112015 Forecast (IDC #229434, August 2011) Worldwide Virtual Machine Software 2010 Vendor Shares (IDC #229442, August 2011)

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