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Tintri T850: Storage array demonstrates stiff upper lip under pressure

Watch out, performance hogs. This is NOT a contention-based model

Review The Tintri T850 is Tintri's mid-line offering. It is a great example of the current line of Tintri products. Reviewing it has been something of a challenge, though that is the fault of your reviewer, not the storage array.

Tintri focuses on intelligent storage that analyses your workloads and predicts what your workloads are going to do and ensures that there is enough performance available for all workloads. This is different from the traditional contention-based model which simply lets all workloads attempt to grab resources unfettered.

In a contention-based storage model a single workload can crowd out the others, functionally starving them of resources. Tintri's approach doesn't let that happen; performance hogs are given as much performance as can be spared, but only so long as that doesn't interfere with the regular functioning of the other workloads on the array.

For a reviewer, this is a bit of a nightmare. Load testing this sort of an array can be very difficult. How can you really ever be sure you are getting every last drop of performance out of the system if the system, by definition, is designed to ensure no single workload can wreck it for everyone else?

This has made real world testing a must. Synthetic benchmarks are not going to tell me enough about the T850 to make any sort of rational recommendation. What I needed what to get this system into production with workloads I knew inside and out.

Fortunately, Tintri has been quite accommodating. I have had the T850 in my lab and ultimately at a client site in production for several months now. My impressions are no longer surface deep. I've encountered successes and esoteric oddities, frustrations and elation. So here, warts and all, is the Tintri T850.

Hardware and specifications

The Tintri T850 officially supports 2000 VMs with a grand total of 6000 virtual disks. It sports 53TB of raw capacity including 5.3TB of raw flash. The usable total capacity is 30TB, which Tintri claims is 66TB effective. These figures are all terabytes, not tebibytes.

The 66TB effective figure really depends on what you're feeding the array. When I was doing VDI testing I saw crazy space savings that went into the high double digits. With a real-world workload that has a file server consisting of uncompressible JPEGs consuming most of the space, I'm seeing space savings of about 1.9x.

Tintri T850 Showing Space Savings of 1.9x

T850 showing space savings of 1.9x; click to embiggen the image

The unit consists of two nodes (controllers) sharing disks via a passive backplane. In this sense it is really not that different from any number of other storage arrays you might encounter.

The unit is loud. It's not the loudest piece of hardware I’ve encountered, but it's very close. At 108lbs, it's quite heavy, too. I certainly wouldn't want to put racking any of these things above waist level.

The unit I was shipped came with 4x 10GbE ports per node; 2x for data and 2x for replication. Each node has 2x 1GbE ports for administration.

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