We had the opportunity to talk with Pure Storage’s Amy Fowler (VP, FlashBlade Product Marketing) and Scott Baker (VP, FlashArray Product Marketing) a couple weeks ago regarding the latest developments and upcoming product announcements.
Obviously, announcements were centered around FlashBlade and FlashArray, but particularly on the FlashArray//C which is getting a lot of love from Pure Storage in this release. Let’s dive into it!
Pure Storage’s FlashBlade platform has been since the start focused on providing fast unstructured storage for orgs operating at scale.
Under the UFFO moniker (Unified Fast File and Object), Pure says that their platform is uniquely placed to lead due to the following architectural decisions that led to the foundation of FlashBlade:
- Scale-out high-speed Fabric
- Variable Block Engine
- Multi-dimensional intelligent load balancing
- Dynamic High Availability
- Flash-Aware Architecture
- Massively Distributed Key-value pair Database
- Ingenuous Future-Proof Architecture
The news is however about Purity//FB 3.2, the latest FlashBlade OS update. It brings new features such as breakthrough SMB performance, Sparse File Support, a new cross-protocol security design, some object storage enhancements and granular real-time insights.
This enables FlashBlade to provide native fast capabilities to NFS, SMB and S3 protocols. Among the use cases which will benefit of those SMB improvements, Amy Fowler quoted SQL Backup as one of the major use cases, alongside with Healthcare PACS (Picture and archiving communication systems).
On PACS, FlashBlade provides the scale necessary to perform these operations, making it ideal with capacity and compute to use the storage platform as a data lake for AI / ML use cases. The folks at Pure have created a solution brief on that specific topic.
On the FlashArray side, Scott Baker pointed out that new features are being introduced in Purity//FA 6.1. Among the most important in our view are Continuous Data Availability (with ActiveCluster) and Ransomware Remediation.
Ransomware remediation is now possible on FlashArray devices thanks to immutable snapshots and a new mode called Purity SafeMode (already available on FlashBlade, and now as well on FlashArray//C.
Further improvements were put in place at the file storage level, and customers can now get more performance out of their workloads (as much as 50% up) with FC-NVMe.
Finally, the FlashArray//C product line (focused on capacity) is getting expanded with:
- the //C40 R3 (providing 247 to 494 TB raw capacity)
- the //C60 R3 (366 TB to 1.8 PB raw capacity)
Both current models (//C40 and //C60) can be Evergreened to the R3 models listed above.
Beyond capacity improvements (Pure claims 33% improved efficiency over the last generation), improvements in technologies used to reduce QLC flash media wear, and other performance improvements (lower latency, deterministic performance) position the FlashArray//C line as a viable option for orgs currently using hybrid arrays.
Pure is also presenting new use cases for the FlashArray with AWS Outpots, VMware Tanzu, Data Analytics as well as Healthcare PACS (in the //C context, PACS would be probably for secondary storage use cases, as primary data would likely reside on a FlashBlade).
To us, this announcement highlights that Pure Storage is working on two fronts.
One is to streamline development efforts and ensure that there are more synergies across its two flagship products, the FlashBlade and FlashArray. We do not mean that just in terms of features, but also in terms of complementarity, as we can see with DR use cases (ActiveCluster) and ransomware protection (immutable snapshots, Purity SafeMode).
The other one is to reach out to a much larger customer base with new FlashArray//C options, positioning this product as an alternative to hybrid arrays.
Using FlashArray//C as a secondary media storage platform poses little concern on flash wear (the FlashArray//C uses QLC media), but using it in place of an hybrid array (which might happen for more saving-conscious organizations, or smaller SMBs) might pose a concern in terms of flash wear (based on the I/O profile of the workloads). Pure is however using their own DirectFlash modules. Although it is not known to us what is on the module, it is expected that wear has been taken in consideration during the design.
Talking about customer base, Pure is hoping to gain momentum across several verticals (through both FlashBlade and FlashArray) such as Healthcare, Oil & Gas, Financial Services, EDA, Media & Entertainment.
Summing it up, interesting developments from Pure Storage, perhaps the only missing part during our briefing was Portworx, about which we hope to hear soon.