Pure Storage Aims For The Enterprise, Cloud Storage Business With Major Software Updates

All-flash storage vendor Pure Storage Tuesday expanded the software that accompanies its high-performance hardware with advanced clustering and quality-of-service capabilities.

The company also used its Pure//Accelerate 2017 conference, held this week in San Francisco, to unveil a number of hardware updates to its all-flash storage arrays.

The changes come as innovation in the software capabilities of all-flash storage has struggled to keep up with improvements in the sheer performance of the hardware, said Matt Kixmoeller, vice president of products for the Mountain View, Calif.-based vendor.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Pure Storage CEO Dietzen On Pure's Software Focus, Profitability Goals And HCI Views]

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"Tier-one storage offers the highest flexibility and performance, but not the fastest innovation," Kixmoeller told CRN. "We want to end the compromise. We're bringing in technology to close the gap."

Pure Storage is doing just that with the introduction of its Purity//FA 5.0 software, the latest version of the company's software for managing data and services with its all-flash hardware, Kixmoeller said.

The biggest addition to the Purity//FA software is ActiveCluster, a new active-active metro stretch cluster capability that allows an application to run synchronously in two data centers up to 150 miles apart, or on separate racks within the same data center, Kixmoeller said.

For example, he said, a customer running Oracle Real Application Clusters on eight servers could have four of the servers in one data center and four in another. "If there's a disruption in one data center, the application keeps running in the other," he said.

Purity//FA 5.0's ActiveCluster deploys quickly with only four commands and does not require the addition of a third-party server or cloud to mediate between the two parts of the clusters.

"This is the last of the high-end resiliency services that we have not had before at Pure Storage," he said.

The quality-of-service capability of Purity//FA 5.0 can now be assigned on a per-volume basis, Kixmoeller said.

Also new with Purity//FA is VMware VVOLs, or Virtual Volumes, implementation for VMware's Cloud Automation Suite. Kixmoeller said Pure Storage has simplified the otherwise complex implementation of VVOLs by integrating the VMware APIs For Storage Awareness into its arrays to let customers easily implement such services as snapshots, replication and quality of service for virtual machines running on Pure Storage's all-flash arrays.

Pure Storage also expanded the snapshot capability of Purity//FA. Previously, customers could snapshot and replicate data from one Pure Storage FlashArray to another, but with Purity//FA 5.0 data can be replicated from a FlashArray to a FlashBlade, or to a generic array, or even to Amazon S3 object storage, he said.

For developers, Pure Storage introduced PurityRun, which allows applications to be run in virtual machines or containers on a Pure Storage array, Kixmoeller said.

PurityRun also can be used to run Windows File Services with FlashArray arrays, letting them run the actual application without an additional server for certain workloads, Kixmoeller said.

"This is not hyper-converged infrastructure," he said. "It's not designed for huge compute workloads. It's for more specific workloads like file services. But it does open the possibility of running applications on the array. This could be hyper-converged infrastructure over time."

Pure Storage also enhanced its Pure1 cloud-based monitoring, predictive analytics and proactive support software with the addition of Meta, a new global predictive intelligence capability.

Kixmoeller said Pure Storage arrays gather about 1,000 different metrics while they're running, and Meta collects that data to develop a "workload DNA," which can be used to determine the performance requirements of a workload.

"Pure1 can use that data to look at multiple workloads and their data growth and make predictions for future requirements," he said. "Meta doesn't care what the workload is but instead compares the workload DNA of multiple workloads to do auto-balancing and optimization across the entire system."

Pure Storage has done an incredible job of bringing its flash storage technology to enterprise customers, said Mark Galyardt, executive vice president at XIOSS, an Atlanta-based solution provider and Pure Storage channel partner.

"It takes newer vendors awhile to get into large accounts," Galyardt told CRN. "But now Pure Storage is doing enterprise storage really well. Pure Storage is more enterprise-ready than other startups, and has been since it launched."

The new FlashArray ActiveCluster will be a boon to enterprises, nearly all of which use clustering for redundancy and scale, XIOSS' Galyardt said.

New volume-based quality of service will eliminate a big advantage that NetApp's SolidFire offering has had, Galyardt said.

"Pure's quality of service will be use-case-driven and application-driven," he said. "In the IT world, Cisco has made a big impact with quality of service, but it's something that's not often seen in the storage business until recently. With quality of service, we can now virtualize everything and start moving towards software-defined storage."

On the hardware side, Pure Storage introduced a DirectFlash shelf to its FlashArray//X NVMe-based al-flash array. The DirectFlash Shelf allows the NVMe capacity of the FlashArray//X arrays to up to 512 TB. It is scheduled to be available in the second half of 2017, Kixmoeller said.

Pure Storage is also working with Cisco to demonstrate the extension of Cisco UCS servers to NVMe performance using FlashArray//X, Kixmoeller said. "This is just a preview," he said. "There's no announced timeline. We're just showcasing that it works."

Pure Storage Tuesday also introduced the ability to scale its FlashBlade array for big data and other cloud workloads to up to 75 blades for a total raw capacity of up to 4 petabytes, a five-times improvement over the prior limit of 800 TB, Kixmoeller said. And because each blade includes both compute and capacity components, the performance of the FlashBlade increases as capacity increases, he said.

The company also introduced a new 17-TB blade for its FlashBlade all-flash storage arrays that fits between its previous 8-TB and 52-TB blades, he said.

The company also enhanced the FlashBlade software with new enterprise features including IPV6, LDAP, HTTP and full snapshot support, and introduced object storage capabilities, Kixmoeller said.