Tintri – Get Thin for the Win!



At Tintri I talk with a lot of customers and prospects about their virtualization environments and how it relates to their storage configurations.  Virtual machine provisioning discussions come up quite a bit, so I thought I would write about some new features that Tintri just introduced.

The method in which we deploy virtual machines over the past many years has certainly changed on the storage side of the house.  Thin Provisioned, Eager Zero Thick, Lazy Zero Thick; there has always been a long menu of choices when deciding how to deploy your virtual machine’s that support your applications.  This has also created some confusion for people around “which choice is right for me when I deploy my virtual machine?”  I have also noticed recently that many customers thought they had deployed thin provisioned vmdk’s but in fact they were running thick due to default values being selected.

Thin Provisioning

First let me start off by saying Tintri is “pro virtual machine thin provisioning”.  You might be saying, wait a second, you’re NFS on vSphere, you are thin provisioned by default!  This is true, but with our VAAI implementation we can observe any of the other types of provisioning methods from VMware as well.  Let’s say you do a storage vMotion and move an inefficient thick provisioned virtual machine from an existing block storage environment over to a Tintri VMstore.  If VAAI is installed, we will observe the specifications of the existing format and retain this .vmdk format and punch zero’s.  (unless you decide to change the option when migrating).

Let me make note, there is no need to use older “Thick” provisioning methods when deploying workloads on Tintri.  Our VMstore operating system is designed to understand the workloads of every virtual machine down to an 8KB block.  Tintri has QoS built into our datastore to adapt as your VM’s change from a performance perspective.



It’s all about Efficiency

With our new T800 platform, we have upped the bar on giving you more value from your Tintri VMstore investment.  We have enabled compression at rest on all of the new models to help drive your storage costs down. This allows your organization to run as efficiently as possible from a capacity perspective.  With our current shipping version of Tintri OS ( we now add in some great capacity management features which I will highlight below.

Lab Environment

I deployed a few VM’s for illustration in the lab, they are empty, no operating system, you can see some are eager zero thick provisioned, one is lazy, and one is thin in the screenshot shown below:


Here is the overall capacity of the VMstore prior to making changes to the virtual machine formatting:


In the example above you can see our compression ratio numbers are a little low, so let’s examine why.  If a virtual machine is thick provisioned per VAAI, according to the specifications, you must “hard back” the zero’s, or reserve the space inside the virtual machine.  If you were to thin provision the .vmdk file, then compression would allow us to reclaim the white space.  This process typically involves doing storage VMotion so you can run the conversion process.  Not any more!

Convert to Thin!

Tintri has built in some great ways to help examine and fix how you can optimize your virtual infrastructure.  In the example below you can see the “Provisioned Type” field on the far right that I have exposed in our user interface to identify which VM’s are thick provisioned.


Let’s go ahead and right click and convert these VM’s within the Tintri user interface to thin disks!


Post conversion

This conversion process is instantaneous, and you can now see in the Tintri user interface we have converted our inefficient thick provisioned vm’s to thin without having to perform a storage VMotion.


You can see below the vSphere Web client now reflects an accurate savings on our capacity on each virtual machine:


Below you can now see the Tintri VMstore overall compression ratio is gone from 1.7x to 2.7x since we have migrated the virtual machines to thin provisioned vdisks!


Set it and forget it

Tintri has taken this one step further to help our customers (and thank you customers for your continuous feedback, this is a result!).  We now have a global option within the datastore settings to keep all virtual machines that get migrated to Tintri as a thin provisioned regardless!  No more going back to reclaim on accidental vm’s that were migrated over.


I hope you found this write up useful, let me know if you have any questions!


New Tintri Collateral – Backup Best Practices and Veeam Integration!




Hopefully you no longer have a tape changer on staff as the above image eludes to but, just a short post to let the Tintri community know that we have released a few new technical documents to the community.  Personally I love seeing Tintri continue to produce both innovative products as well as technical collateral to support those solutions for our customer base.



The first document that we released is a document that covers backup and recovery best practices while utilizing the Tintri VMstore.  This document covers topics on data protection in general built into the Tintri VMstore, i.e. snapshots and replication.  It also includes how to achieve image level backupsand supported transports, VADP, HotAdd, NBD etc.  The document also covers how to recover data, an even more important component to backups!



The second document is one that has been sought after by many of my customers personally, so I am glad to see Tintri has brought this to fruition.  A great technical deep dive that documents leveraging Veeam software for data protection, and how that integrates with the Tintri VMstore.  (Nice work Dominic!).

I hope you enjoy these two new tech documents, just wanted to make a quick mention!  Look for more great things coming right around the corner, very excited to be delivering on some wonderful technical roadmap items this year!


A Little Hidden Gem in the Tintri vSphere Web Client Plug-in


What’s new?

Last week (3/20/2014) Tintri announced our vSphere web client plugin that brings the familiar performance metrics that are found in our VMstore web user interface, to the vSphere web client.  This plugin is great for those customers that have begun to adopt and utilize the VMware vSphere web client (the non C# windows based client).  As a reminder, the vSphere web client is where all of the new VMware capabilities and management functionality will be integrated going forward.  As of today (3/24/2014) the Tintri vSphere Web Client plugin is now available in tech preview mode on our support portal.  This new plug-in is a no cost item for our customers, so please feel free to download and install at your convenience! 

A Hidden Gem

The Tintri integration is a nice win for all of our customers.  The rich data we provide back to the web client is really a game changer when it comes to performance troubleshooting, data protection (per VM) and capacity planning.  One of the coolest features that our development team included in the new plugin is the ability to apply our NFS best practices to your ESX hosts with the click of a button.

Below you can see I have selected a Tintri datastore in the web client and have right clicked the object to enable the Tintri menu option to appear:


After selecting the “Apply best practices” menu option, I am now presented with a list of ESXi hosts that have access to this particular datastore.  In my lab/demo environment, this happens to be one ESXi host but in a normal production environment, this would be the entire cluster where you could apply these settings to all of the ESXi hosts at the same time.


Notice where I have the arrows pointing in the first 3 columns compared to the following 3 columns.  There are no gray italicized “match” values present in the selections.  This indicates that the ESXi host we are looking at is not running in our best practices configuration.  As a side note, the Tintri vSphere Best Practices documentation can be found on our support portal.

Let’s set the correct best practices for this particular ESXi host:


Step 1, select the button “Set best practices values” at the lower left hand side of the screen.  Step 2, notice the values have now been corrected on the ESXi host in this particular example, and the italicized gray “match” value is displayed in the first three columns.  Step 3, select the “Save” button in the lower right hand corner of the menu to apply the values we have just set automatically to the above host.  The ESXi hosts will need to be rebooted in order to re-read the new values that have been set.


This little hidden gem is a nice added feature for many customers because it can quickly validate your cluster settings, to ensure you are getting the best performance possible when running VMware vSphere in combination with Tintri.  VMware vSphere Host Profiles would be another great place where you could apply the Tintri NFS best practices and automatically apply them to your hosts/clusters.  Many customers are not running vSphere Enterprise Plus licensing and do not have access to the Host Profiles functionality.  The Tintri plugin now provides an alternative method to accomplishing a simple approach to applying our best practices to your environment.


Tintri VMstore upgrade process made simple

Customers asked for it and we delivered it.  You can now upgrade your Tintri datastore via the management UI.  I created a video to show how easy this upgrade process is for our customers.  I recall being a customer not that long ago and having to engage my storage vendor to have a technical resource dispatched to perform this same task because the process was too “complicated for customers”.  We believe at Tintri that storage should be easy to install, configure, and manage thus our “Zero Management Storage” messaging that you have probably noticed.


Tintri Syslog Configuration with VMware Log Insight


Tintri T600 series

Some of you might have missed the recent big announcement from Tintri, but we launched a new product line to expand our rock solid platform.  The T600 series (picture above) was launched shortly after VMworld this year.  Our customers love Tintri and how we help them manage their virtual environments and are screaming for more.  Our flash first file system gives them the feel of an all flash array but at a fraction of the cost.  This platform not only brings new hardware models to our customers so they can be very prescriptive on their storage requirements, but it also brings a few new exciting software features to the table as well.


Tintri OS 2.1

The new Tintri OS (where much of our intellectual property exists) continues to get better and better offering more features that our customers have been asking for.  The 2.1 version of code now offers several new features:

  • Snapshot enhancements
  • SNMP support (published MIB)
  • LACP support for advanced network configuration
  • Software upgrades from the UI
  • Syslog Integration

I thought I would dive into the syslog feature since I just had a customer ask about configuring this the other day.


Setting up Syslog configuration in Tintri

If you are an existing Tintri customer, you will notice that the menu list under settings now looks a bit different.  Notice the “more” tab in the image below on the left hand side.  This is where some of the new features such as LACP and upgrading from the UI now exist.




To configure the syslog integration, we will want to select the “Alerts” link about halfway down the menu options.  You will be presented with a screen that should look similar to what you see in the image below.  Most likely your email alerting will already be configured if you are an existing T540 customer and upgraded to 2.1.x.




The syslog configuration setting is the new field titled “Remote Server”.  This is where you will enter your syslog dns hostname or ip address so we can forward messages to your instance of VMware Log Insight.  Once you enter the correct values for your environment, select the option “Test forwarding” to ensure that communications are working correctly between the Tintri datastore and Log Insight.


Validate Log Insight is getting data

VMware Log Insight is designed to accept incoming syslog messages by default so there is no configuration that is needed to enable syslog support.  So, It’s time to check the Log insight server for our test data!  Login to your own instance of Log Insight and select the “Interactive Analytics” option at the top of the screen.  In the search column, insert the value “test” to search for our recently sent test message from the Tintri datastore.




You can see in the example above that we are getting the test messages from the selected datastores that I have configured for syslog monitoring.  You can now begin to create saved queries for events that you are interested in, such as cloning, system health metrics, as well as hardware related issues.

Currently there is no Tintri Content pack listed in Solution Exchange but this is something that I am planning on changing in the not so distant future!


Tintri @ VMworld 2013


Tintri is a platinum sponsor this year at VMworld 2013, so look forward to seeing a lot of great things while you are out at the conference from us!  You can even win a trip to Ireland where you get a chance to grab a pint with our CEO Kieran Harty!  Pretty cool stuff!

Most importantly, –> insert shameless self serving plug here:  Come see my session!



Come join Rob Girard and I in session STO6557 as we cover how Tintri helped MaplesFS transform their storage landscape into high performing predictable infrastructure that is purpose build for virtual machines.  Hear it first hand from Rob as he dives into what technical reasons drove him to chose Tintri over the competition and how he drove MaplesFS to 100% virtualized.  I can promise that you will not be bored!  Between the technical speaking content, Rob and I will be cramming two live demo’s into this session so, strap in and hold onto your armchairs!   (No they don’t actually have arm rests at the event).  I promise I will explain what Tintri really means during our session (Hint:  See picture above).

Make sure you also check out the following 2 sessions if you are interested in hearing more from the smart people over at Tintri!  Rex and Justin are two individuals that will make your socks go up and down when it comes to understanding Storage + VMware.  Their session abstracts along with the numbers are listed below:

STO6558: Flash Storage Deep Dive: It’s Not as Simple as Replacing Disks with SSDs
Monday, August 26, 5:00 – 6:00 PM

- Rex Walters, Vice President, Technology & Strategic Alliances, Tintri


STO6559: Increasing VM Density — Realizing the Promise of More with Less
Thursday, August 29, 10:30 – 11:30 AM

- Justin Lauer, Senior Systems Engineer and vExpert, Tintri


I will be helping man the Tintri booth (1705) everyday from 2-6 p.m.  If you can’t make my session make sure to at least swing by the booth and say hello!  Looking forward to a great event this year and catching up with a lot of you out in San Francisco!



Being Purpose Built




Since I have been onboard with Tintri for a while now, and after spending time in the field with customers, I thought I would focus on one of the biggest advantages Tintri customers love.  The founders of our company wanted to solve a specific pain point.  Virtualization and traditional storage arrays do not work well together and VMware environments need visibility, simplicity and performance.  General purpose storage is difficult to manage when it comes to VMware environments because, well,  it’s not designed specifically for virtualization!  Many customers that I worked with at VMware and now with Tintri, strive for a ~100% virtualized environments.  The reason behind this is two fold.  Virtualization brings agility and simplicity to the data center engineers and drives CAPEX/OPEX costs down for the C level folks.  That’s hard to ignore when you can bring two camps together (aka a compelling event).  Being purpose built for virtualization will help drive your organizations efforts towards a denser, more optimized, virtualized datacenter.

Purpose Built

What is purpose built and why do I care?  I chose the image above to help illustrate this blog post.  Being purpose built has great advantages over something that is not purpose built.  Consider if the woman above had a general purpose, metal clunky row boat rather than a sleek, fast, transparent kayak that was specifically designed for her journey.  Yes the metal row boat can get her from point A to point B but it will be hard to navigate and she won’t be able to see what is coming.  With her transparent Kayak she can now see the dangerous coral below her boat, navigate faster and easier, and also take in the sites of the ocean life below her.  Tintri brings these same characteristics to your virtualized workloads by showing you the performance metrics across the VMware stack when dangerous conditions are occurring.

Top down vs Bottoms up

Most storage solutions take a top down approach towards management of the underlying infrastructure.  They manage constructs such as LUNS or volumes.  Some of you I have spoken with at local VMware user conferences have seen the Tintri “LUNS Suck” bumper sticker we have floating around.  It’s true, they do suck, and who wants to spend cycles managing a spreadsheet of logical unit numbers?


Tintri’s management construct is the virtual machine.  Makes sense when you are trying to virtualize your datacenter as aggressively as possible.  We take a bottom up approach since we start at the virtual machine itself.  In the image below you are looking at the Tintri user interface that shows a virtual machine not performing well.  You can quickly see across all of the infrastructure that touches this VM.  Notice the 4 metrics called out which are Host, Network, Disk and Storage.  You can see in this example that this virtual machine is having CPU contention on the physical ESX host that he happens to be living on.  This is powerful stuff!  This specific metric has nothing to do with storage at all, but is certainly important when troubleshooting performance issues in your VMware environment.  This granularity is something you can bring up in 3 mouse clicks rather than sifting through layers of irrelevant management constructs.  By the way, this visibility is not an additional license, it is included with the Tintri storage array.




Tintri solves VMware storage challenges

Virtual sever workloads are not the same as traditional physical workloads.  Performance needs to be addressed as you scale out and manage your VMware environment.  Visibility across the entire virtualized stack needs to be present so you can virtualize with confidence and success.  End users come to IT for services that they expect to be top notch so they can drive the organization forward and be successful.  You need the ability to satisfy these requests with a storage solution that is purpose built for your environment.  Tintri can help you be successful.


My next chapter…




Making career choices is never an easy thing to do as there is no manual or guide book that helps you along the way.  But like with most things in life, we take the millions of different pieces of information and form a conclusion that makes sense personally.  I have been with VMware for 3 years now, and words can’t describe how awesome the ride has been, and how great it has been to be a part of such an awesome company/technology.  I can’t speak highly enough of the great people and the personal friendships that I have had the opportunity to form while working here.  But opportunities do come along, and some you find a deep sense of magnetic allure that you just can’t shake.  Those are the opportunities that you have to go after.  I have decided to accept a position with Tintri as a senior systems engineer (pre-sales) covering my local patch.

Tintri has piqued my interest for quite some time now, and the more I dug into the technology I was literally blown away by the innovation that they are bringing to the table.  There is a lot of disruption in the storage industry recently, and Tintri is one of the newer players that is bringing a big change in the way that we look at VMware and storage.  Tintri has taken a step back from the normal methods and constructs in which we manage storage, and completely re-defined the approach on how we should be treating virtual machine workloads when they interface with the storage subsystem.  You are no longer are bound to conventional storage management mechanisms such as LUN’s and volumes, but actually now manage the virtual machines directly on the storage array, which simplifies a lot of the complexities in the storage stack.  Combine this new approach with a hybrid SSD/HDD array and does both de-dup and compression on the fly, and you have something that is quite remarkable.

The Tintri VMstore visualization is a very powerful tool for VMware administrators.  One can quickly gain insight into the top performance issues with the click of a button (in the VIC client).  See screenshot below.  Combine all of these things together (along with some other roadmap items that are coming) and you have a very powerful solution that will solve a big pain point that most of my customers deal with on a daily basis.



I am all in with Tintri.


Download the VMware vCAC Icon Pack




VMware vCloud Automation Center is a very powerful tool that many of my customers are starting to deploy within their organizations. What is vCloud Automation Center you say?  Directly from our vCAC website: “Rapidly deploy and provision cloud services across private and public clouds, physical infrastructures, hypervisors and public cloud providers with VMware vCloud Automation Center. vCloud Automation Center allows authorized users access to standardized IT services through a secure self-service portal, acting as a service governor and helping enforce business and IT policies throughout the service lifecycle.”



As I mentioned in my previous blog post after VMware first acquired DynamicOps, vCAC is a self-service interface that begins to hand off some of the manual provisioning tasks that many organizations deal with.  This allows your organization to become much more agile, spinning up physical/virtual/cloud resources on the fly.  Having a nice visual representation of your service catalog is important for your end users as we begin to make this shift to a self-service model.  You want your customers to have a nice experience as they begin to consume your services, to entice them to adopt and return back in the future.  Customizing this portal for your environment is critical.  vCAC ships with a few icons that represent your infrastructure and services, but they are very limited in nature.

I decided to pull together a lot of industry infrastructure icons that customers might find useful when they are building out their service catalog.  I have resized them to the correct format for vCAC 32×32, and saved them as .PNG files as supported by the product.


Why go with this?



When you can have this!


vCAC Icon Pack


To import the icon pack, simply login as your vCAC administrator that you have already defined.  1.  Goto the “vCAC Administrator” incon on the left side of the menu as shown.  2.  Select the menu option “Customization” within this menu category.



1.  Once you have selected the “Customization” menu option go to the upper right hand side of the screen.  2.  Select the “Icons” tab that is called out in the image above.  Extract the icon files from the zip file to a local folder on your machine.  3.  Select the browse button to import the icons that you find useful for your environment.


Ready for the vCAC Icon Pack?  Click the link below!

VMware vSphere and DynamicOps Overview




I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to spend some time with the DynamicOps team at one of my customer accounts recently.  DynamicOps (Cloud Automation Center aka DCAC) is a very robust tool that provides many of the attributes that we need to run “IaaS” or “Infrastructure as a Service”.  The self-service portal, approvals, automation, support for physical/virtual/cloud is something that DynamicOps has mastered in their solution set.   I now see why VMware made the decision to add DynamicOps to the strategic vision that we are executing against.

I thought I would pull a short video clip together that showed some of the base functionality of DynamicOps and how it integrates with VMware vSphere.  This demo environment is based off the VMworld labs that some of you may have experienced in San Francisco 2012.  The remainder of you better be at VMworld 2012 Barcelona to get some stick time with DynamicOps!  I will be there how about you?