Pure//Accelerate 2019 Update

Stephen O’Herlihy, CTO at PFH Technology Group, brings us the latest news and announcements from Pure Accelerate, Austin TX. From the announcement of FlashArray//C to Cloud Block Store, it's all systems go at Pure Storage!

We are living in a world where 86% of enterprise business are saying they will migrate all of their services into the cloud, but at the same time, 80% of the same enterprise businesses continue to spend on their hardware.

What does this really mean for the customer?

From my experience, I find that organisations see the benefits of making the journey to the cloud, but for a multitude of reasons (skills, cost application, bandwidth and fear) they still maintain their on prem DCs. That’s why we have seen the emergence and continued growth of the term ‘hybrid-cloud architecture’.

Pure Storage a company built in the flash world have been following these trends closely and are bringing to market products and solutions that help their clients build bridges between the traditional on-prem and cloud storage worlds. We are at a point, with the advancement of technology, that moving workloads between on-prem and the cloud is becoming more and more simple. An example of this is running your VMs on-prem or in the cloud and your experience will be pretty much the same from a management and operational perspective. However, this isn’t yet the case with storage. If you were looking at object storage your selection of vendors for an on-prem solution was vast, whilst historically your cloud options were limited. This brought with it its own challenges. These include the lack of features such as deduplication or compression, common in the on-prem world, as well as requiring different management tools all add another layer of complexity.

Pure Storage is trying to address some of these challenges by improving their current portfolio, whilst also introducing new products to answer the growing demands of the market. The storage industry, historically, has been very static and lacked innovation. Pure Storage's unique simple approach and their focus on continuous improvements has reshaped the whole primary storage market. Previously Gartner separated flash and non-flash storage, mainly due to the price claiming them to be almost different technologies. However, Pure Storage's competitive pricing has seen this gap close, forcing Gartner to now combine flash and non-flash in a comparative view.

So, what has changed in the past 10 years? Ultimately everything has by 10x!! 10x less complex, smaller, faster and less power consumption,..

So, what is in store for the next 10 years in storage? In my opinion, Pure Storage will be in front until the traditional storage vendors try and replicate the simple and modern way of selling their products, in a hybrid world.

Pure Storage promised at this year’s Pure Accelerate two big announcements:

1. The launch of the FlashArray//C

The FlashArray//C will be targeting the secondary storage market where Pure Storage have previously struggled to position themselves. As expected, Pure Storage will have a whole range of FlashArray//C based on size and throughput requirements. However their first model will be a FlashArray//C60 which will be available this year in three versions: 1.3PB, 3.2PB and 5.2PB. Pure Storage will be using QLC flash due to its competitive price point. QLC memory has challenges in terms of the limited number of writes and re-writes possible along with a higher latency of 2-4ms. The first challenge has been addressed by some of the innovative features Pure Storage has developed in the background, such as ‘in-line deduplication’ and also ‘garbage collection’. Higher latency with smaller throughput is not necessarily an issue but can potentially be risky for some workloads. In response, this is addressed by the parallel writes that FlashArray//C monitors in the background and aims to increase capacity. This means that a larger number of disks increases the space required by the on prem solution, and therefore increases the cost.

It will be interesting to see how the FlashArray//C will compare to the FlashArray//X from a commercial perspective. Can FlashArray//C beat the price of secondary storage solutions such as NetApp? Possibly not, but an all-flash secondary storage brings other cost savings opportunities, when considering, space, power, cooling and management overheads. For the clients where the recovery speed is essential, an all-flash secondary storage solution could be a game changer.

2. The launch of Cloud Block Store

Another great solution announced to launch was Cloud Block Store (CBS), which addresses the need for enterprise class storage in the cloud. CBS architecture consists of multiple building blocks - controllers, virtual drives and storage. The controllers and virtual drives run as EC2 instances and the storage is a combination of local flash and S3. The controllers will be running in HA mode, as they do on traditional physical arrays and the virtual drives running on EC2 will act as flash drive equivalents. All EC2 instances will be running the cluster that is representative of the ‘storage shelf’ in the physical storage world. All the data is load balanced via the controller and sent to one of the virtual drives and then stored to S3.

All of this will be deployed by CloudFormation in AWS so you won’t have to spend time deploying this. It will be interesting to see how this type of holistic approach will shape the market in the future. It can be procured in two ways, either in the AWS market place or through Pure-as-a-Service offering. Either way you’ll still need to pay for the EC2 instances as they consume computer, storage and network resources.

So what does this mean for our customers, well here at PFH we have never seen a technology that has been so quickly gone from the Proof of Concept stage to “Don’t you dare try and take that out of my data centre” stage.

What we have available to all customers as well as the availability of a POC, Pure have launched a new Pure TestDrive. This new release will allow us to showcase Pure Storage to you the customer through Customer Solutions Labs. People tend to forget Pure Storage have their EMEA Head Quarters in Ireland and customers can gain access to the Executive Briefing Centre and demo centre.

Pure Accelerate was a lot more fun than I thought a storage conference could be and if you think the area of storage is boring, I would suggest you attend next year, to see how Pure are pushing the industry into completely new directions.

Click here to download a recording of our recent webinar talking all things Pure Storage.

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