Tintri FlexDrive: Drive-by-drive expansion | Tintri

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Tintri FlexDrive: Drive-by-drive expansion

Going beyond the typical hype associated with new feature announcements, the Tintri Technical Marketing team decided to take a look at a new capability specific to the Tintri EC6000 storage platform. You may have seen recent communications from Tintri which touted the name “FlexDrive”—the ability to non-disruptively increase storage capacity with flexible options in relation to the number of drives you can add. As this flexibility offers the ability to add drives with a granularity of one, you can understand why the Tech Marketing team here still tend to use the term “drive-by-drive expansion” when discussing this capability.

Half-populated Tintri EC6000 systems are available to order with as few as 13 solid-state drives. These partially populated EC6000 systems can then be field upgraded to increase effective file system capacity, as required. Support for drive-by-drive expansion begins with Tintri OS version 4.4.1, with planned general availability in late Q4 of this year.

Adding storage capacity isn’t new earth shattering technology. So what makes this feature different? On the surface we started with questions, skeptical of how the feature could assist users in addressing common business challenges:

  • How to gain visibility into not only current capacity utilization but the ability to view historical utilization and forward trending utilization?
  • With a RAID6 configuration that includes 2 parity drives and a hot spare, what capacity increase would be realized by adding 1, 2, 3, or more SSDs?
  • Compression and deduplication also play a role in capacity planning, how do we take these factors into account?
  • What maintenance window is going to be required for a capacity upgrade; how will this impact production workloads?
  • The additional SSDs, who will install them and what other planning is required?
  • How long will I have to wait for my new capacity to be available?

We decided to investigate further. We went into the lab, performed a number of capacity upgrades, and in the process, uncovered a number of data points we found significant. Here’s what we found:

  • Free analytic tools that provide insight into current, historical, and forward trending capacity utilization. (We like free.)
  • A new expansion estimator to handle the calculations with RAID6, compression, and deduplication and any other overhead to simplify planning. (We like simple.)
  • No maintenance window is required, but you can schedule one if you’d like to. (We like evenings and weekends, not maintenance windows.)
  • SSD installation is self-service, so you can do it yourself. (We like self service.)
  • New capacity is available instantly, as soon as we click “Expand.” (We like instant!)

Expansion estimator for the Tintri EC6050 All-Flash Array for FlexDrive drive-by-drive expansion

And (if you are still wanting more) here’s the marketing hype …

This on-demand Tintri Tech 20/20 webinar will feature a look at Tintri analytics, the expansion estimator, and a live-without-a-net capacity upgrade.

Watch On-Demand



Bill Roth / Nov 30, 2017

Bill Roth is a Sr. Technical Marketing Engineer at Tintri, Inc. where he is responsible for data protection and security.  He has been a frequent speaker at industry events such as VeeamOn, EMC Wo...more