Startup Tintri Unveils Storage Appliance For Virtualized Environments

VMware's former head of R&D on Thursday unveiled his new startup, a company called Tintri, which is developing appliances aimed specifically at handling storage in virtualized environments.

Kieran Harty, co-founder and CEO of Tintri, said he founded the Mountain View, Calif.-based company in 2008 after seeing the cost of connecting storage to virtualized environments.

"I saw people getting all the benefits on the server side, but not on the storage side," Harty said. "I saw people spend more on storage than on virtualization. According to VMware's numbers, 60 percent of a virtualization project is spent on storage."

Tintri's response was to build an appliance which can handle hundreds of virtual machines and their storage in a single device while making that device seem like a simple direct-attached storage array.

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That appliance, the VMstore, includes about 1 TB of Flash memory and 16 1-TB SATA hard drives with built-in compression and deduplication technology and an administration console which hides the complexity of attaching virtual machines to storage.

That administration console looks different from traditional storage, Harty said. "With traditional storage, customers see LUNs, volumes, and RAID groups," he said. "With ours, you don't see that. It looks as simple as a direct-attached storage environments. But it can store hundreds of virtual machines on a single appliance."

Existing storage systems, on the other hand, are designed for generic storage use to handle hundreds of thousands or millions of files, Harty said.

It may look easy on the surface, but it's not, said Chris Bennett, vice president of marketing for Tintri. "Inside, there's a lot of engineering done to make it as simple as possible," Bennett said. "We recognized the different types of objects in virtualized environments and how to deal with particular workloads."

Because VMstore is designed specifically for virtualized environments, management of the storage can be handled by IT personnel with virtualization experience who may not have storage expertise, Harty said. "No storage experience is necessary," he said.

The initial version of VMstore supports VMware virtualized environments, and is expected to be available in early April, Harty said. Versions supporting other hypervisors are planned, with availability depending on market demand, he said.

The appliance lists for $65,000, and comes with only the one configuration.

Tintri's primary go-to-market venue is the indirect channel, and almost all its trial customer installations were done with channel partners, Harty said.

While Tintri is just now coming to market with its first appliance, the company has no lack of experience. Harty led all desktop and server R&D at VMware from 1999 to 2006. The company's vice president of engineering came from Data Domain, and its engineers include former VMware, Data Domain, and NetApp personnel.

The company has so far received $17 million in Series A and Series B venture funding.

The name "Tintri" comes from the Gallic word for lightning, which Harty said is appropriate given that the VMstore appliance uses Flash memory. "Also, it's an easy word to say," he said.