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August Storage Announcements – Pure Storage

August Storage Announcements – Pure Storage

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August seems to have been the month for a huge raft of storage-related announcements and I’m still getting to grips with the detail, after being away on holiday for the whole month.  As I start to pick out the news and make sense of how it fits into the storage landscape, I thought I’d start with a few straightforward ones to ease me back into things gently.

Pure Storage

Pure Storage FlashArrays were originally Fibre Channel only devices (see my review after TFD#8 last year).  In today’s unified world, that could be seen as somewhat limiting, so Pure have announced support for iSCSI and 10GbE in their latest hardware release.  Software enhancements have also been made to reduce snapshot overhead, support VAAI and manage FlashArray via a vCenter plugin.  Full details can be found in the press release.  The addition of VAAI support is an interesting one.  Previous demonstrations of the FlashArray have focused around high performing VMware environments, without the need to use VAAI primitives.  It will be interesting to discover whether the efficiency of the VAAI command structure translates to even more performance gains or whether this represents simply a compatibility tick in the box.

The Architect’s View

I’ve followed Pure Storage for some time after having presentations from them at a couple of Tech Field Days (TFD#8 and SFD#1).  I like the simplicity of the product and the openness of the team in discussing their technologies.  Marketing has been a clear strategy for the company, especially with their Apple-esque website design.  Adding iSCSI support must have been on the roadmap for some time and the words of the press release saying “enabling FlashArray to fit seamlessly into Ethernet-centric public and private cloud data centers” is a clear push against competition such as SolidFire.  However being focused on cloud environments is no bad thing.  With their latest round of funding, it’s clear there’s a lot of money around for flash products these days.

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Disclaimer: Pure Storage has been a sponsor at two TechFieldDay events at which I have been an attendee.  My flights, accommodation and most meal costs were covered for me to attend these events.  However, I am not required to blog about any of the sponsors and none of my content is reviewed before publication.

About Chris M Evans

  • MaXX99

    I had a presentation of Violin Memory a few days ago. Their offering seems on par with Pure with dedupe and other software features being on the road map. However contrary to Pure they seem to use a proprietary platform with an ASIC on each memory module. From their marketing slide they were talking about 1.000.000+ IOPS whereas Pure’s techspec seems to linger around 100.000 IOPS.

    However I would be interested to know your take on both products. Being a Storage Architect myself I am a bit hesitant to these small companies. They do offer great performance and drive the market .. big companies will rather invest in the Big5 though (HDS,EMC,IBM,NetApp,3PAR). Therefore I try to hold off the business for the time being until all those parties come out with their alternatives. I do hope those will offer better integration with existing investments (we have around 20 AMS2500′s behind 4 USP-v’s and 2 VSP’s, totaling several PB’s and several more VSP’s and NetApp’s on order)

    We do see some intriguing market moves though where all software and store vendors are building vertical stacks (Oracle SuperCluster,, SAP HANA, HDS UCP2, NetApp FlexPods, Cisco ….). All these integrated stacks offer great performance and integration. To make matters worse, a lot of software features are completely dependent of the underlying stack (f.ex. Oracle’s Supercluster integrates VERY tightly with R11g2). BUT, ultimately all those offerings are deconsolidating the storage again.

    I would like to hear from others their take on SSD/Flash in the enterprise and their vision on the near future of storage in the enterprise : consolidated with flash cache, distributed vertical stacks, das, … ?

    • http://thestoragearchitect.com/ Chris M Evans

      MaXX99

      You are right. Violin have taken the approach of using custom memory modules called VIMMs which are essentially flash memory with additional controller functionality. This has been done to enable a high level of resiliency; if a back-end controller fails, the architecture can re-route to the VIMMs using other controllers and the VIMMs themselves can control recovery form partial NAND flash loss. In addition, the intellienge allows the array to manage itself without needing to swap VIMMs on each failure.

      Violin have targeted the very high-end market with Pure being a high-end performance device, but not super high performance like Violin or Kaminario. I guess you have to ask yourself what your requirements are. Typically, high performance data is only a subset of requirements and there’s a need to generate a good business case around ROI from reducing latency (which is essentially all these arrays are about). You have to ask what IOPS are worth to you – is it worth paying 5-20x over the standard price to get more of them done quicker?

      It may well be that you don’t need super-low latency in your environment and your ROI may work better by placing SSD/flash into a standard array. This won’t provide the same super-low latency but could be enough to do what you need. The “big 5″ are certainly interested in this technology. EMC acquired XtremIO with no customer or product; HP OEM Violin. HDS have made their intentions known. HP have gone down the route of all flash arrays.

      On the other subject of stacks, I think that’s all about ownership. Vendors are looking to own the whole of the IT estate using product feature lockin. Not sure I think it’s the way to go, unless you have a very small IT department.

      Cheers
      Chris

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