UK cloud firm majors on Tintri hybrid flash for virtualisation

Wokingham-based We Are Cloud rejects EMC and hyper-converged options as it deploys Tintri VM-native hybrid flash storage to support rollout of cloud services

Berkshire-based cloud services provider We Are Cloud has deployed Tintri hybrid flash VM-native storage to support the roll-out of its hosted services.

During evaluation, it rejected traditional storage from EMC on grounds of cost and complexity and also decided against hyper-converged infrastructure because of scalability concerns.

We Are Cloud delivers cloud-based services such as hosted servers, desktops and Exchange email from two datacentres in the Thames Valley, usually to support customers’ specific projects in verticals, including accountancy, recruitment and biological sciences.

It evaluated storage solutions for a greenfield deployment and needed products that could scale easily with the required performance and, crucially, be able to deliver services over three hypervisors: VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix Xen.

MD Andrew Chapman said: “We looked at several suppliers and one – Gridstore – only dealt with Hyper-V. It was a great product, but we needed to support other hypervisors as we had customers with all three.”

Chapman also rejected EMC on grounds of cost and complexity.

“We looked at EMC and went quite far down the road with them,” he said. “But we thought, ‘This is legacy’. They had bought so many suppliers over time and it meant a complex and clunky set of products with more than 50 lines on the sales invoice.

“With Tintri, there was only one.”

Chapman added: “With Tintri, we had conversations with the tech team and we were confident they understood Hyper-V, VMware, Citrix. We took a test unit and load tested it and put customers on it. It didn’t blink; it just performed.”

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So, We Are Cloud implemented 11.8TB of capacity on a Tintri T820 appliance. It is hybrid flash storage with 1.7TB of flash as cache and was deployed alongside new HP servers and Cisco and Huawei networking gear.

It currently supports around 220 virtual desktops and 45 virtual servers and has only reached about one-third of capacity, said Chapman.

The unit provides about 30,000 IOPS overall, he said. “There are no issues where a VM doesn’t get the performance it needs and you can guarantee less than a millisecond latency – it’s sex on legs.”

Tintri is a hybrid flash appliance that supports VM storage in a format native to the hypervisor. Compute power is delivered separately. Did Chapman consider hyper-converged infrastructure in which servers and storage are combined in nodes built to server virtualised computing?

“I don’t like the idea of hyper-converged because there are limited options for scalability,” he said. “If you want to grow, you have to replace with products that are on a limited list of equipment. You can’t just add another blade and connect to storage; you have to buy an entire new unit.”

He added: “You can end up with silos. Hyper-converged has its place, but if you don’t want to silo a customer, you have to take the route of shared storage.”

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