Pure Storage Exits Stealth Mode With Flash-Only Array, $55 Million In Funding


Startup Pure Storage on Tuesday came out of stealth mode with what the company calls the first storage array built from the ground-up, specifically for taking advantage of high-speed Flash memory.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based storage vendor also unveiled its $30-million Series C round of funding which includes a strategic investment from Samsung, one of the world's largest providers of Flash memory chips.

While storage vendors have offered a variety of different ways to implement Flash memory and SSDs to improve storage performance, Pure Storage's difference is that the company's Pure Storage FlashArray was designed specifically as an all-Flash appliance, said Mat Kixmoeller, vice president of data protection.

"We were built from the ground-up for Flash," Kixmoeller said. "There are no disks anywhere in our office. We don't do tiering with disk."

The Pure Storage FlashArray features a scalable storage architecture built around the company's controllers, each of which features 12 processor cores that provide 300,000 IOs per second (IOPS) sustained performance, and 180,000 IOPS write performance, all with a latency of under 1 millisecond, Kixmoeller said.

Each controller can be connected to up to four storage shelves, each of which has up to 5.5 TBs of MLC-based Flash storage. The shelves connect to the controller via redundant 6-Gbps SAS links, while the controllers feature 8-Gbps Fibre Channel and 10-Gbps Ethernet network connectivity.

The Pure Storage FlashArray also features the company's Purity Operating Environment software which includes such storage services as global deduplication and compression to significantly reduce the capacity required to store data, and thin provisioning to allocate capacity only as required, Kixmoeller said.

"In our array, in-line deduplication and compression are so well integrated that you can't turn them off," he said. "Customers today are often afraid of deduplication because of potential performance questions, but we don't have any issues with it."

Because of those included capacity-saving services, the Pure Storage FlashArray is priced at under $5 per GB of usable storage capacity, which Kixmoeller said compares to between $5 to $10 per GB for traditional disk-based arrays, Kixmoeller said. FlashArray also requires only about 20 percent of the power and space required for traditional arrays.

Pure Storage from the beginning was a channel-focused company, Kixmoeller said. "Channel partners are key to making integration of the array successful," he said. "We are fulfilling all our deals through the channel. For every one of our beta customers to date, we introduced them to a channel partner."

The strategic investment from Samsung is important for Pure Storage, Kixmoeller said. "Samsung is the number one Flash component and number one SSD manufacturer worldwide," he said. "This collaboration allows us to have a very close relationship with them."

The relationship will include co-marketing between Samsung and Pure Storage to help show customers that Flash-based storage is ready for enterprise data centers, Kixmoeller said. "For Samsung, it's an opportunity to expand into data center use cases for Flash," he said. "Flash is now used everywhere. But in data centers, to work right, Flash needs an array."

Samsung is only one of a number of well-known investors in Pure Storage. Others include Frank Slootman, the former president and CEO of DataDomain, which in 2009 was acquired by EMC, as well as Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum, co-founders of VMware.

With its $30 million C-round of funding, investors have poured a total of $55 million into Pure Storage.