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Tintri’s EMEAR Comeback

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

TECHunplugged analysts Arjan Timmerman & Max Mortillaro recently had the opportunity to travel to Munich, Germany to attend A3 Technology Live!, an event organized by A3 Communications Ltd. One of the presenting companies, Tintri, provides a data storage platform built for virtualized workloads that includes AI/ML capabilities.

Reconnecting with Tintri

Founded in 2008, Tintri has always been an UFO in the storage world, by being a storage solution that effectively did everything to abstract the complexities of storage systems. The company developed (and continues to develop) hardware appliances that were originally very VMware-centric: instead of creating volumes (whether block or file based) which would then be used as datastores, Tintri came up with the concept of virtual disks.

This storage abstraction hides the complexities of underlying file system or volume / LUN provisioning and configuration, while also providing QoS capabilities. Tintri can be seen as a precursor (if not the inventor) of the concept that would then evolve into VMware vVols. By the mid-2010’s, the solution was quite popular and received several VMworld awards, the author of this blog post even had a couple Tintri t-shirts, and both TECHunplugged analysts Arjan Timmerman and Max Mortillaro visited Tintri’s HQ in 2016 as a part of Storage Field Day 10.

Figure 1 – Tintri T5000 (likely) appliances in Tintri HQ’s data center, May 2016, Silicon Valley – Source: Max Mortillaro

Fast forward to 2017, after a few investment rounds, the company filed for an IPO but a year later the company ran out of cash and filed for bankrupcy, leading DataDirect Networks (DDN) to purchase all of Tintri’s assets. Instead of just going after intellectual property, DDN kept Tintri afloat and continued investing in the product range and extending its capabilities.

Tintri VMstore Today

Tintri has been steadily improving and growing under DDN’s tenure: the initial use case (data center virtualization) has been extended to other workloads such as VDI environments, SQL databases, and DevOps environments. The solution, currently available via NVMe-based Tintri VMstore T7000 appliances, is hypervisor-agnostic for a long time now, currently supporting not only VMware, but more importantly (notably following Broadcom’s acquisition) with Red Hat, Microsoft, but also partial or upcoming support for XenServer, XCP-ng, and Proxmox.

This broad virtualization ecosystem, augmented by container support capabilities, and the ability to run in the cloud with Tintri Cloud Engine (TCE), makes Tintri a future-proof investment for organizations that are looking for alternative options to VMware.

Figure 2 – A hybrid replication scenario between on-prem infrastructure and cloud-based Tintri Cloud Engine Instances, showing replication capabilities to multiple targets (public cloud – currently on AWS -, and remote T7000). – Source: Tintri presentation

The value of the solutions goes however beyond its ecosystem. In addition to advanced replication capabilities, Tintri also offers AQoS (Adaptative Quality of Service) capabilities, and it’s ML-based (or AI-based, depending on your taste) Tintri Analytics. Tintri Analytics is a cloud-based predictive analytics engine backed by machine learning that greatly simplifies the life of administrators: it can easily help pinpoint latency issues and bottlenecks, performs real-time auto tuning, allows resource forecasting, and provides up to three years of historical metrics.

Tintri Analytics improves and augments every concept at the core of what Tintri was initially designed for: abstracting storage complexities, providing performance and simplicity, ease of management, visibility into issues, and autonomous operations, thus making the solution very appealing to organizations of every size and vertical.

Figure 3 – Screen capture of a cost modeling sample presented by Tintri during the A3 Tech Live event in Munich – Tintri is on the right (where the pen is pointing to) – Source: Tintri

Worth noting, DDN’s IntelliFlash solution also provides primary storage capabilities (with a broader focus than Tintri) and comes with its own AI analytics engine. Although those products and AI solutions have their own dedicated stack, it was understood that the same engineering teams are behind both engines. Perhaps DDN can move to a future stage where both platform analytics are unified into a single product.

EMEAR Growth Plans

The company has long focused on the US market and has an unequal presence on our side of the world. The UK & Ireland market is well covered, the same goes for DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), and South Africa / Middle East, but it is fair to say that its presence and marketing efforts have been quite confidential in the past years.

Being focused on channel sales, the company is now focusing on rebooting its channel partner efforts as our colleagues from Blocks & Files report. Focus areas include the Nordics (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland), the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg), as well as Spain & Portugal.

Surprisingly, there are no plans yet for France and Italy, two heavyweights in the EU and EMEA market. Similarly, CEE countries (some of which are industrial heavyweights such as Poland and the Czech Republic) and the Balkans are not listed. There was unfortunately no time to get fully acquainted with the comprehensive list of countries and markets, but Tintri has quite a choice of markets when it comes to potential expansion plans and go-to-market strategy.

TECHunplugged’s Opinion

Tintri is alive and well, although TECHunplugged analysts barely had a chance to engage with the company in the past three years during their enterprise storage market research endeavors. Reconnecting with Tintri was not only welcome, but also much needed.

Despite its relatively niche focus (compared to all-purpose enterprise storage systems), Tintri offers a turnkey approach that provides great outcomes with simplicity in mind. AI-based analytics capabilities are not only very good, but also make Tintri part of a small group of vendors that provide such features to their customers.

Finally, the hypervisor-agnostic approach and built-in support for XCP-ng and Proxmox make Tintri a solution of choice for medium-sized enterprises seeking to escape the Broadcom tax. TECHunplugged enjoyed the discussion with Tintri and looks forward to see how the company will expand in the EMEAR region.