Tintri VMstore is a storage appliance that's built for VMware. Its VM-aware file system brings some innovative features that set it apart from general purpose storage products. If you haven't seen my original deep dive, check it out.
In preparation for VMworld, Tintri will have some announcements about their product line. I had a meeting with Chris, Ed and David over at Tintri to discuss a few of the new things that will be available in the next generation VMstore appliance. At a high level, Tintri is introducing a few new features: dual controllers, VMDK auto alignment, and enhanced VM latency metrics presented in the user interface.
One of the things I mentioned in my deep dive post was that there was no dual control option available. While it's not mandatory to have dual controllers, it does bring a level of comfort to the risk-averse storage administrator in all of us. The controllers will be active/passive so the primary controller will process all I/O until a failure, failover, or offline event occurs; then the standby would take over. We all know even when you plan for the worst, things can happen and having that redundant controller could mean production never stops when unforeseen controller failures might occur. It's good to see Tintri is listening to customers and will offer a dual controller model.
Tintri may be the first to introduce a storage appliance with a VMDK auto-align feature. I may be wrong, but I have not seen or heard of another storage appliance that auto-aligns VMDKs. I could not get a detailed overview of how it's done but it's all based on the fact that the file system is VM-aware. Being a niche storage appliance gives certain advantages that others don't have. As Tintri’s Ed Lee explained it, the auto-alignment happens completely automatically with no copy, clone, or shutdown process.
It sounds too good to be true but I'm told all you have to do is move your VMs to the VMstore, and it automatically aligns VMDK files whether they’re for OS, data, etc. VMware reports that proper VMDK alignment can improve performance significantly. Throughput increases by an average of 12% and can increase by as much as 62%; latency decreases by up to 33% with an average 10% improvement. The hassles of aligning VMs manually will keep most customers from being 100% aligned on all VMs. Auto alignment in the VMstore is a great and welcome addition.
Lastly there's the UI change that visualizes end-to-end VM latency at a glance to help pinpoint performance issues. Tintri is measuring latency both in the VMstore appliance and across the network and host. The host metrics are collected from VMware vCenter.
Tintri shared some screenshots with me. The first one here is their dashboard that shows overall end-to-end latency stats.
The different colors in the screenshot below represent the amount of latency at each layer – the Host, Network, VMstore, and disk. If there’s more of a particular color in the chart, that layer is contributing more latency to the VM. This gives VM administrators a quick way to pinpoint problem areas within the environment as a whole or per VM. Hopefully this will alleviate some of the finger pointing that occurs when problems arise.
Antone Heyward is an IT Professional with years of experience working with Windows Server, Virtualization (VMware, HyperV and Citrix XenServer), shared storage environments and datacenter infrastructure. He is a bi-weekly guest contributor to the Tintri blog and also has his own virtualization-focused blog, theHyperadvisor.
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