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Key Non-AI Takeaways from Pure //Accelerate 2024

TECHunplugged analysts Max Mortillaro and Arjan Timmerman were recently invited to attend Pure //Accelerate 2024 in Las Vegas, from 17-Jun-24 to 20-Jun-24. This article will cover general announcements not related to AI (except the AI Copilot); a separate article will be released later with a specific take on AI-related innovations.

The 2024 edition primarily focused on software and service-related announcements (except for one hardware-related announcement), following a seemingly empirical pattern where one year the company releases hardware announcements, and the other year is more about software / service related innovation.

TECHunplugged also covered the announcements in a TECHunplugged Take video available here.

Density and efficiency improvements

On stage, Pure Storage founder John “Coz” Colgrove announced the imminent availability of 150 TB DirectFlash Modules (DFM), as well as a 3D-printed prototype for 300 TB DFMs to come out “as soon as possible”. For comparison, Pure Storage showcased a 75 TB DFM and also presented a 3D print of a 150 TB DFM last year.

Pure Storage founder John “Coz” Colgrove showcasing a 150 TB DirectFlash Module

This increase in capacity further improves the density of Pure Storage systems, also resulting in a much better overall energy efficiency, with a linear correlation between capacity and efficiency gains. There is technically no challenge to increase capacity on the DFMs, so long as 3D NAND manufacturers will be able to add layers and improve the density of their flash cells, the industry may be seeing larger DFMs coming up.

Pure Fusion Rebooted

During the Analyst & Press conference, CEO Charlie Giancarlo presented a new version of Pure Storage Fusion, the company’s storage automation and abstraction platform that allows organization to define storage classes, policies, and delivers fleet management capabilities at scale. This new release eliminates initial limitations (such as provisioning only on greenfield deployments), comes fully integrated in PurityOS for all arrays at no additional cost, is fully backwards compatible, and currently supports block and file provisioning, with object coming later.

Pure Platform Storage AI Copilot

Deemed an industry-first by Pure Storage, the company launched a Storage AI Copilot that should drastically improve the management and troubleshooting experience of IT teams. The solution, built by Pure Storage and based on elements of GPT4 and GPT-4o, has gone through considerable design iterations in a very short time, a testament to the extremely fast developments taking place in GenAI.

The AI Copilot builds upon multiple data sources related to knowledge base, APIs, but also years of telemetry data, and deeply integrates with the Pure Storage ecosystem and management tools, allowing it not only to look at configuration settings or providing recommendations, but also performing troubleshooting that understands the administrator’s context and actual situation on the array fleet.

Cyber Resiliency Improvements

Pure Storage has realigned its cyber resiliency framework to the NIST 2.0 industry standard. Those capabilities include a security assessment that will assess an organization’s current state of cyber resiliency readiness in line with Pure Storage recommendations, and will also help them assess where they stand against other organizations. These features are tightly coupled with the AI Copilot covered before.

In addition, Pure1 anomaly detection capabilities have been extended to performance anomaly detection, providing better insights into unusual activities such as data exfiltration, denial of service, or other suspicious activities.

The cyber recovery and resilience SLA introduced last year has been improved as well: it now covers all kinds of disasters besides ransomware, and now implements a much tighter collaboration between Pure Storage and the purchasing organization, including activities to jointly develop the org’s cyber resiliency strategy as well as regular quarterly assessment and remediation activities.

AI-related improvements (Evergreen //One for AI, Secure Application Workspaces and NVIDIA SuperPod certification) as well as other Evergreen //One improvements will be covered in a follow-up post.

TECHunplugged’s Opinion

There are multiple topics to unpack from //Accelerate 2024. Although the event was focused primarily on software announcements, it is worth mentioning that the 150 TB DFMs may become an inflection point for large organizations (and especially hyperscalers) that have been looking at the tie break point between capacity, density, cost, and power efficiency, and have been traditionally reluctant to switch over to flash storage for capacity-oriented workloads.

Pure Storage’s drive to double the capacity of DFMs every year (within the limitations of available 3D NAND technology) will drive massive storage density and efficiency, especially for organizations operating at scale. There are sustainability implications for both US and EMEA orgs that we hope to unpack in a later video, taking into account the difference in each of those geographies requirements and constraints.

From a software innovation perspective, both Fusion and the AI Copilot go in the direction of making storage infrastructure management and provisioning as easy and transparent as possible. Fusion introduces a paradigm where even a single array becomes a fleet, and allows organizations to seamlessly manage this fleet as it grows, with capabilities such as replication, geofencing, and more. Considering that FlashArray and FlashBlade systems share a large amount of the same codebase, the next step for Pure Storage is to bridge the gap between FlashArray //XL, //X, and //C on one hand, and FlashArray //E on the other hand, providing a single namespace across storage tiers and enabling seamless data movement, with the same principles applying to FlashBlade systems as well.

The cyber resiliency improvements are also a good news for organizations, the only thing that remains to be seen here is how prescriptive Pure Storage will want to be with its customers. TECHunplugged is advocating here for a design / UX approach that encourages the organizations to enable all of these security settings during initial configuration. Security is not optional and making organizations aware will be critical.

Additional content

TECHunplugged published the following video content during the event:

Keynote announcement recapitulation
Q1 FY25 announcements and Pure Strategy