Some thoughts on NetApp’s acquisition of Solidfire

Yesterday, NetApp announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Solidfire for $875M in an all cash transition. Having spent more than 7 years at NetApp, I thought, I would provide my perspective on the deal .

As we all know, NetApp had a 3-way strategy around Flash. First, All-Flash FAS for customers looking to get the benefits of data-management feature rich ONTAP but with better performance and at a lower latency. Second, E-Series for customers looking to use applications side features with a platform that delivered raw performance and third FlashRay for customers looking for something designed from the grounds up for flash that can utilize the denser, cheaper flash media to deliver lower cost alternative with inline space efficiency and data management features.

The Solidfire acquisition is the replacement for the FlashRay portion of the strategy. The FlashRay team took forever to get a product out of the door and then surprisingly couldn’t even deliver on HA. The failure to deliver on FlashRay is definitely alarming as NetApp had some quality engineers working on it. Solidfire gives NetApp faster time (?) to market (relatively speaking). Here is why I think Solidfire made the most sense for NetApp –

  • Solidfire gives NetApp arguably a highly scalable block based product (at least on paper). Solidfire’s Fiber Channel approach is a little funky but let’s ignore it for now.
  • Solidfire is one of the vendors out there that has native integration with cloud which plays well with NetApp’s Data Fabric vision.
  • Solidfire is only the second flash product out there designed from the grounds-up that can do QoS. I am not a fan as you can read here but they are better than the pack. (You know which is the other one – Tintri hybrid and all-flash VMstores with a more granular per-VM QoS of course)
  • Altavault gives NetApp a unified strategy to backup all NetApp products. So the All-Flash no longer has to work with SnapVault or ONTAP functionalities. Although the field teams would like to see tighter integration with SnapManager etc. Since most of the modern products make good use of APIs, it should not be difficult. (One of the key reasons why NetApp wanted to develop an all-flash product internally was that they wanted it to work with ONTAP – You are not surprised. Are you?)
  • Solidfire has a better story than some of the other traditional all-flash vendors out there around Service Providers which is a big focus within NetApp.
  • Solidfire’s openness around using Element OS with any HW and not just Dell and Cisco (that they can use today). I want to add here that from what I have gathered, Solidfire has more control over what type of HW one can use and its not as open as some of the other solutions out there.
  • And yes, Solidfire would have been much cheaper than other more established alternatives out there making the deal sweeter.

I would not go into where Solidfire as a product misses the mark. You can find those details around the internet. Look here and here.

Keeping technology aside, one of the big challenges for NetApp would be execution at the field level. The NetApp field sales team always leads with ONTAP and optimization of ONTAP for all-flash would make it difficult for the Solidfire product to gain mindshare unless there is a specific strategy put in place by leadership to change this behavior. Solidfire would be going from having sales team that woke up everyday to sell and create opportunity for the product to a team that historically hasn’t sold anything other than ONTAP. Hopefully, NetApp can get around this and execute on the field. At least that’s what Solidfire employees would be hoping for.

What’s next for NetApp? I can’t remember but I think someone on twitter or a blog or podcast mentioned that NetApp may go private in the coming year(s). Although it sounds crazy but I think its the only way for companies like NetApp/EMC to restructure and remove the pressure of delivering on the top line growth especially with falling storage costs, improvement in compute hardware, move towards more software centric sales, utility based pricing model and cloud.

From a Tintri standpoint, the acquisition doesn’t change anything. We believe that flash is just a medium and products like Solidfire, Pure Storage, XtremeIO or any product that uses LUNs and Volumes as the abstraction layer have failed to grab an opportunity to bring a change of approach for handling modern workloads in the datacenter. LUNs and Volumes were designed specifically for physical workloads and we have made them to work with virtual workloads through overprovisioning and constant baby-sitting. Flash just throws a lot of performance at the problem and contributes to overprovisioning. Whether customers deploy a Solidfire or a Pure Storage or a XtremeIO, there will be no change. It would just delay the inevitable. So pick your widget based on the incumbent in your datacenter or based on price.

If you want to fix the problem, remove the pain of constantly managing & reshuffling storage resources and make storage invisible then talk to Tintri.

Contact us and we will prove that we will drive down CAPEX (up to 5x), OPEX (up to 52x) and save you time with the VM-aware storage.

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While you are at it don’t forget to check out our Simplest Storage Guarantee here .

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Cheers..

@storarch

 

 

Choosing analytics: built-in, on-premises, or cloud-based

With the announcement of Tintri Analytics, we delivered on our vision: providing comprehensive, application-centric real-time analytics (using fully integrated on-prem and cloud-based solutions) that provide predictive, actionable insights based on historical system data (of up to 3 years).

Customers can now automatically (or manually) group VMs based on applications to analyze application profiles, run what-if scenarios, and model workload growth in terms of performance, capacity and flash working sets.Analytics

When you consider a storage solution refresh, analytics probably tops your list of needed features. It simplifies IT’s job, makes IT more productive and helps organizations save time and money.

The question is, what type of analytics should an organization look to have—built-in, on-premises or cloud-based? If you are just getting started, any sort of analytics would be great! Most storage vendors have an on-premises and/or a cloud-based solution. But an ideal storage product should have all three, as each of them has its own irreplaceable use case. Let’s take a look at each one.

Built-in analytics for auto-tuning

Built-in analytics that the system uses for self-tuning are uncommon in the industry. Tintri’s unique auto-QoS capability is a great example that uses built-in analytics, available at a vDisk level, to logically divide up all the storage resources and allocate the right amount of shares of the right type of resource (flash, CPU, network buffers etc.) to each vDisk. By doing this, a Tintri VMstore ensures that each vDisk is isolated from the other, without noisy neighbors.

Operationally, this simplifies architecture, as the IT team doesn’t have to figure out the number of its LUNs/volumes, the size of its LUNs/volumes, which workloads would work well together and so on. It can focus on just adding VMs to a datastore/storage repository as long as it has capacity and performance headroom available (as shown by the Tintri dashboard).

On-premises real-time analytics

On-prem analytics are extracted from a storage system by a built-in or external application deployed within the environment. Admins can consult these real-time analytics to help troubleshoot a live problem or store them for historical information. Admins can further use these analytics to help their storage solution deliver a prescriptive approach to placing workloads, and provide short-term historical data for trending, reporting and chargeback.

Tintri VMstore takes advantage of its built-in analytics to deliver an on-prem solution for analytics through both the VMstore GUI and Tintri Global Center. Up to a month of history can be imported into software like vRealize Operations, Nagios, Solarwinds and more.

Of course, customers don’t have to wait before they can see these analytics—unlike with cloud-based analytics, they can monitor systems in real-time.

Cloud-based predictive analytics

Cloud-based analytics help customers with long-term trending, what-if scenarios, predictive and comparative analytics. But not all cloud-based analytics are created equal. Some just show the metrics, while others let you trend storage capacity and performance. But the majority of them can’t go application-granular across multiple hypervisors, especially in a virtual environment. They’re just statistical guesswork based on LUN/volume data.

And that’s where Tintri Analytics separate themselves from the pack. With a VM-Aware approach, we understand applications, group them automatically and provide great insights across customers data.

Your IT team wants to be proactive, working on solving business problems instead of doing day-to-day mundane tasks. That’s why each of these three categories of analytics are must-haves. With Tintri Analytics, Tintri’s committed to reducing the pressure on storage and system admins, and helping to grow, not stall, your organization.

Cheers..

@storarch

What’s New in All-Flash?

Today, Tintri announced the Tintri VMstore T5000 All-Flash series—the world’s first all-flash storage system that lets you work at the VM level—leading a launch that includes Tintri OS 4.0, Tintri Global Center 2.1 and VMstack, Tintri’s partner-led converged stack. Since its inception in 2008, Tintri has delivered differentiated and innovative features and products for next-generation virtualized datacenters. And we’re continuing the trend with the game-changing All-Flash VM-Aware Storage (VAS).

Other all-flash vendors claim all-flash can be a solution for all workloads—a case of “if all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail.” Or, they’ll argue that all-flash can augment hybrid deployments, with the ability to pin or move entire LUNs and volumes.

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But not all workloads in a LUN or volume may have the same needs for flash, performance and latency. So just as we’ve reinvented storage over the past four years, Tintri’s ready to reinvent all-flash. Here’s how:

  • No LUNs. Continuing the Tintri tradition, the T5000 series eliminates LUNs and volumes, letting you focus on applications. We’re welcoming VMs to the all-flash space across multiple hypervisors.
  • Unified management. Aside from standalone installations, the T5000 series can also augment the T800, and vice-versa. Admins can now manage VMs across hybrid-flash and all-flash platforms in a single pool through Tintri Global Center (TGC), with full integration.
  • Fully automated policy-based infrastructure through TGC, with support from vDisk-granular analytics and VM-granular self-managed service groups.

With access to vDisk-granular historical performance data, SLAs and detailed latency information, customers can decide which workloads can benefit from all-flash vs hybrid-flash—especially when our hybrid-flash delivers 99-100% from flash.

But we hear you, storage admins: you want to go into the weeds. Surprise—we’re happy to help. Here’s what else the T5000 series can offer you:

  • Space savings from inline dedupe, compression, cloning and thin provisioning.
  • NVDIMMs, NTB, 10G and more of the latest hardware advancements.
  • Enterprise reliability exceeding 99.999% uptime.
  • Scale of up to 112,000 VMs, 2.3PB and up to 5.4M IOPs (random 60:40 R:W, 8K) in a single TGC implementation.  (These are real-life numbers, not 100% read numbers.)
  • VM-granular snapshots, cloning and replication.
  • vDisk-level Dynamic QoS to eliminate noisy neighbors and ensure peak performance.
  • VM-level Manual QoS to setup performance SLAs through Min and Max IOPs.
  • vDisk (VMDKs, VHDs)-level data synchronization across VMs for test and dev or any operations requiring periodic copying of data.
  • VM-level replication, backup and transfer between Hybrid Flash and All-Flash systems.
  • VM-granular performance analytics with end-to-end latency visualization that includes host, network, storage, contention and throttle latency.

Today, Tintri continues our solid roadmap of business-relevant innovations in storage for modern workloads. We changed the game for hybrid-flash—and we’re doing it again for all-flash.

Cheers,
@storarch