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VMblog's Expert Interviews: Tintri Talks Private, Public and Enterprise Clouds

interview tintri 

Still confused and searching for information about public vs. private cloud?  Is your organization considering the move to public cloud but still worried about the challenges of doing so?  You aren't alone.  I recently spoke with Chuck Dubuque, VP Product Marketing, at Tintri to get some answers. 

Tintri, if you aren't familiar with them, offers an enterprise cloud infrastructure that's built on a public cloud-like web services architecture and a set of RESTful APIs.  Organizations use Tintri all-flash storage with scale-out and automation as a foundation for their own clouds-to build agile development environments for cloud native applications and to run mission critical enterprise applications.  Dubuque told VMblog that Tintri is continuing to extend its enterprise cloud platform over the year ahead. 

I found this stuff to be really interesting and useful -- their cloud infrastructure is designed to deliver the same agility as the public cloud, but in the enterprise data center.  

VMblog:  What trends are you seeing with the adoption of public vs. private cloud?

Chuck Dubuque:  There's a myth that all workloads are moving to public cloud, but the trend is more subtle. Industry data shows that while traditional IT spending is declining and public cloud spending is increasing, private cloud is growing most rapidly. 

We have seen over just the last 12-18 months a real change in cloud strategy, and it is based on the real experience of enterprise customers. A few years ago when CIOs publicly declared that they were ‘all-in' on cloud, it was generally assumed that they were referring to public cloud. But organizations have encountered challenges with particular workloads, especially after trying wholesale "lift and shift" migration to public cloud. Now we are seeing a more informed "multi-cloud" strategy where going ‘all-in' on cloud means finding the right mix of public cloud, private cloud, and cloud service providers.

VMblog:  And what are some of the biggest challenges organizations are encountering as they move to public cloud?

Dubuque:  We recently convened our Customer Advisory Board-representing a broad range of organizations. We asked them directly what kind of challenges they had encountered with public cloud and each had a horror story of sorts. Those stories centered on predictability of performance and cost. For example, one customer talked about a workload that was much more network intensive than they had realized. This application's use of network resources inside their datacenter was a hidden cost-something they didn't have to pay for directly, but in public cloud the cost of that network bandwidth ran up a surprise $50,000 monthly charge above what they had budgeted based on compute and storage alone. Other customers talked about performance; select, mission-critical workloads that performed consistently in their data center struggled in public cloud because they weren't designed to run effectively on public cloud, which relies on applications to provide their own availability and resiliency.

VMblog:  When should an organization consider investing more in private cloud?

Dubuque:  Our position is that there are some workloads that can safely be deployed public cloud, including many newer "cloud native" applications. Others need to reside in an organization's data center, whether it is for compliance, cost control or predictable performance.

When an organization has a significant number of those workloads, they need to be investing in their private cloud-and we believe the workloads that reside there should benefit from the same agility of public cloud. That's the promise of Tintri enterprise cloud.

VMblog:  Can you talk about the defining characteristics of enterprise cloud?

Dubuque:  We look to the NIST definition of enterprise cloud. The pillars include resource pooling, elasticity, measurement and self-service. These are the same elements that define our product vision and roadmap. 

Tintri enterprise cloud works with compute and network resources to provide the infrastructure base of a private cloud. Tintri enterprise cloud provides a single, federated pool of storage. It can be elastically scaled by adding expanding capacity or adding nodes-and automatically recommends the optimal location of every virtual machine. Tintri analytics predict exact needs for capacity and performance while enabling what-if modeling. And self-service includes managing your Tintri estate through technologies like Slack and Amazon's Alexa agent. Our roadmap pushes things even further.

VMblog:  Explain if you would, how is Tintri enterprise cloud different from similar solutions touted by all-flash and/or hyperconverged vendors?

Dubuque:  Tintri enterprise cloud is distinguished by its web services architecture. That allows Tintri to work like a building block that can easily connect with compute and network. Tintri analytics span the entire infrastructure and can predict and control storage and non-storage resources like compute.

Other all-flash players are generally block storage, and they still use LUNs and volumes. That's impractical for enterprise cloud, because it's a different language than compute and network speak. You still require dedicated storage specialists while the rest of your datacenter staff are becoming generalists, and you still need manual intervention to complete storage tasks which impedes automation and scale.

And while hyperconverged brings together compute and storage, it also forces you to scale them both together; but the elasticity of enterprise cloud requires that they be scaled separately according to need. With Tintri, scaling is as simple as expanding capacity or adding nodes-then Tintri automatically recommends the optimal location for every virtual machine.

VMblog:  What are some of the differentiated capabilities of Tintri enterprise cloud?

Dubuque:  Tintri's architecture allows for autonomous operation-meaning that Tintri doesn't just automate-away problems, it avoids and eliminates complex tasks altogether. By using the virtualized or containerized application as the abstraction layer at which everything from IO isolation to performance and automation works, Tintri is able to manage almost all day-to-day operation without administrative intervention. Every virtual machine or container gets its own lane. There's never conflict over resources and never any need for manual intervention (for example, to shuffle VMs between LUNs or volumes). When the infrastructure is self-managing and self-healing, it is possible to very simply add automation to create value-added capabilities. Tintri's set of REST APIs allows the automation common tasks like replication, cloning, policy management and more, while Tintri autonomous operation provides predictable high performance. 

The level of abstraction at which Tintri operates also means we can do some pretty cool stuff that's not possible with other products. For example, you can manage your Tintri enterprise cloud through Slack or Amazon's Alexa agent. Why does that matter? It means you can enable self-service beyond admins, empowering non-experts to take ownership of their footprint. You wouldn't want a Developer to be carving up LUNs or tuning low-level storage settings, but they could absolutely provision the applications they need through Slack and Tintri.

VMblog:  Finally, how are Tintri customers deploying enterprise cloud today?

Dubuque:  My favorite customer example is a technology company that is a long time Tintri customer. They currently have 57 Tintri VMstores in operation-a footprint that spans 4 petabytes of storage across 8 global data centers. But the truly impressive part is that they use Tintri as an enterprise cloud to spin up and tear down more than 120,000 virtual machines every month while running nearly 200,000 in steady-state. And they do it ALL with a single IT generalist who spends only four hours a week thinking about storage management and growth, not fixing issues and managing storage. Tintri's autonomous operation and powerful, scalable automation free the rest of the organization from managing storage, so they can concentrate on developing new ideas and products.

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Thank you again to Chuck Dubuque, VP Product Marketing at Tintri, for taking time out to answer questions for VMblog readers. 

Published Monday, February 20, 2017 7:58 AM by David Marshall
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