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Why We Founded Tintri

It’s a privilege to officially launch Tintri today. We’ve been in stealth mode for two-and-a-half years, making this a very exciting day for the entire Tintri team. We are focused intently on solving one of the key obstacles that causes VM stall —costly, complex traditional storage that pre-dates the mainstream adoption of virtualization.

I observed this trend develop first-hand. Before founding Tintri, I served as EVP of Engineering at VMware for seven years. My time there was invaluable; in 1999, we were still a modest Silicon Valley start-up, but by the time I left we were a global enterprise on the verge of transforming the industry.

Storage remained a laggard. The most advanced storage available to customers was designed in the 1990s—before server virtualization — and was intended for general-purpose workloads. Even with the significant technology innovations the market leaders introduced, traditional networked storage remained a poor fit for large-scale virtualization projects. In remarks at VMworld last year, several speakers commented that storage now accounts for up to 60% of the cost for a virtualization deployment.

After I left VMware, I focused on investigating the problem and brought together a team of people from both the storage and virtualization worlds. We founded Tintri to extend the benefits customers experience with server virtualization to storage, and help accelerate virtualization adoption.

We believe that the vast majority of enterprise applications should be virtualized. Virtualization has delivered unprecedented benefits, and customers would like to extend this to a broader set of applications. Yet, many enterprises stall out at 20 or 30% virtualization. Customers enjoy the benefits of virtualization on the server side - consolidation, flexibility, high availability - but not on the storage side.

While we do produce a storage appliance, we’re by no means a traditional storage vendor; our exclusive focus is providing storage for VMs. Tintri is the first company to build a specialized storage system for VMs—what we describe as “VM-aware storage.” Tintri VMstore uses virtual machine abstractions—VMs and virtual disks—in place of conventional storage abstractions such as volumes, LUNs, or files. Tintri VMstore operates directly at the virtual machine and disk level; this is dramatically different than any other storage solution we’ve seen.

VM-aware storage vastly simplifies the task of provisioning storage for VMs. At a Southern California university, one of our early customers, the VM administrator installed and set up the Tintri product himself in about 15 minutes; he upgraded the system software without the help of the storage team; and he tells us he can now deploy VMs in minutes, a process that used to take hours of back-and-forth with his counterpart in storage.

Our aim is to help enterprises to take virtualization from 20 or 30% to 80% or more of their commercial applications. We’re well positioned to do this because our VM-centric approach to storage is markedly different from traditional vendors. Tintri VMstore is architected specifically to meet the storage challenge posed by virtualization. To do this, we needed the right mix of people. We recruited a team with a unique set of expertise on both the virtualization side and the storage side. Our lead executive and engineering team comes from, among others, VMware, NetApp, Data Domain, Citrix, Sun and Google. Our team has been truly instrumental in building the company.

The demand for VM-aware storage promises to increase significantly over the next few years. On behalf of our team at Tintri, I’d like to thank our early customers, partners and advisors who helped us validate our ideas and provided invaluable feedback. We’re looking forward to learning even more as we bring Tintri VMstore to market.

Kieran Harty / Mar 24, 2011

Kieran is the Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Tintri.  Prior to becoming CTO, Kieran served as CEO and Chairman of Tintri. Before founding Tintri, he was Executive Vice President of ...more

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