Despite a little hiccup and a delay of a day, Tintri Inc (NASDAQ:TNTR) finally successfully executed their Initial Public Offering of shares on 30 June 2017.  It looks like the extra day was used to rethink the opening share price, which reduced from $10 to $7 a share, netting the company around $60m.  So far, the share price has held steady, hovering either above or below $7, which has to be viewed as a success, bearing in mind the state of the company’s finances.  Of course there is a 180 lockup period which will prevent certain share holders from selling, so when this expires on 27th December 2017, we may see a different scenario.

Disclaimer:  This blog post is purely opinion and does not provide financial advice in any way.

IPO or Plan B

The storage array market continues to be a tough one to operate in.  DataGravity was recently acquired (probably for the IP rather than as a going concern); Formation Data Systems was shut down in May.  With continuing losses, it may have been difficult for Tintri to raise additional funds, making IPO the only route; there may have been no plan B.

As a technology, I’ve always thought Tintri had a strong play in the shared storage array market because of their focus on managing VMs, not physical devices.  Tintri arrays see virtual machines as first-class citizens and apply policies for data protection, quality of service and performance to each VM, rather than the physical storage it sits on.  As discussed in recent posts, this is a focus on the data, not the storage itself and that means non-storage savvy administrators can deploy and manage Tintri systems with ease.  In isolation, the Tintri solution is something that I think most virtual server administrators would go for – Tintri was offering the features of vVOLs well ahead of VMware and at a much advanced level.

Evolving Market

Unfortunately the storage market (and IT in general) doesn’t sit still.  Today, VMware users can deploy Virtual SAN and dispense with a storage array altogether.  VMware has thrown massive resources into making vSAN successful.  If containerising applications takes off, Tintri’s core value is lost (unless the company can pivot to a container-centric model).  In the general storage array market, competition is fierce but revenue growth is stagnant.  Only those with the deepest pockets are likely to survive.  Then of course there’s the spectre of public cloud that looms large over the entire storage industry.

The Architect’s View

The underlying technology behind the Tintri platform should have applicability to a range of other application solutions.  The core value of the company is the ability to apply policies to specific application objects.  VMs (obviously) and containers make sense for primary applications, but another could be to pivot towards the secondary storage market and introduce an appliance similar to Rubrik/Cohesity.  Another option is to go a layer deeper and start supporting database applications natively.  I do hope Tintri finds a route forward towards making the company profitable or even gets acquired under reasonable terms.  The company was/is a pioneer in focusing on managing the application and getting away from that logical/physical relationship between the storage device and the application.  Going forward this still has value; it’s just about finding the right niche.

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Written by Chris Evans