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Tintri virtual machine storage appliance supports VAAI

Tintri’s virtual machine storage platform gets VAAI support and improved virtual machine cloning capabilities.

Startup Tintri Inc. today said its VMstore flash virtual machine storage appliances support vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI) for VMware vSphere and it has added the ability to clone virtual machines faster through a software upgrade.

Tintri’s VMstore T445 (which has 8.5 TB of usable capacity) and T540 (13.5 TB usable) were designed specifically for virtual machines. The systems use solid-state and SATA hard drives, but the vendor claims 99% of the I/O performance comes from the faster solid-state drives (SSDs). Tintri also maps each I/O request to the virtual disk on which it occurs, so there is no need to use LUNs to configure storage.

Tintri CEO Kieran Harty said the VAAI support, which lets the array handle much of the management functionality, helps VMstore provision virtual machine storage more efficiently. Tintri customers can initiate cloning from VMware vCenter and VCloud Director.

“We built our file system around the notion of using flash to make our virtual machine support a lot faster,” he said.

Harty said customers can now create hundreds of clones in minutes, a claim backed up by one customer.

“It’s a remarkable change with the VAAI plug-in,” Ryan Makamson, systems administrator for Washington State University’s WSU College of Engineering and Architecture, said of Tintri’s new cloning capabilities. “Cloning takes seconds now for what used to take 10 or 20 minutes, depending on the size of the VM file.”

Makamson said he started using a VMstore T540 in late 2011 after hitting a wall with performance for his virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) storage using NetApp FAS3000 storage. He has since expanded from 60 virtual desktops to 150 and his average IOPS increased from about 1,400 to between 2,000 and 3,000 with no performance bottlenecks.

Makamson said his school moved to VDI to give students access to virtual desktops in labs and classrooms but wasn’t happy with the performance before adding the Tintri storage. He said he priced new storage systems from NetApp and EMC at the same time as he looked at Tintri, but Tintri cost a lot less for the same performance.

“VDI can be a pig when it comes to IOPS on storage devices,” he said. “We had been running a VDI deployment for about a year and a half, but we couldn’t scale up any more. What we had wasn’t the quality of experience we hoped to give our users.”

Harty said VDI and private cloud storage are the two biggest use cases among Tintri’s 70 customers.

The software upgrade also allows one VMstore appliance to support 16 VMware vCenter servers. Previously, each appliance could support only one vCenter server. Tintri supports only VMware virtual machines, but Harty said the vendor plans to add support for Citrix Xen, Red Hat KVM and Microsoft Hyper-V.

WSU’s Makamson said he will expand his use of Tintri beyond VDI. He also expects to add about 150 VMs for VDI over the next few months. “We’ll probably move higher-load servers -- from a storage IOPS sense -- to it as well,” he said.

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