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Pure Storage Embraces Multi-Cloud With New AWS, Azure Offerings

The company's Cloud Block Store for AWS, which allows its FlashArray Purity storage operating to run in the cloud to provide common storage management across on-premises and cloud environments, is now available.

 Pure Storage Tuesday showed it is serious about bringing customers' data management to a hybrid multi-cloud world with the introduction of new data services for Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

The official release of Cloud Block Store for AWS and the introduction of CloudSnap for Azure, and with them the introduction of Pure as a Service, are important components in Pure Storage's cloud strategy, said Matt Kixmoeller, vice president of strategy for the Mountain View, Calif.-based company.

The expansion of Pure Storage's cloud-focused technology was unveiled at the company's Pure Accelerate 2019 conference, being held this week in Austin, Texas. Pure Storage also used the conference to introduce additional artificial intelligence capabilities for its AIRI platform designed in conjunction with Nvidia and new additions to its FlashArray all-flash array family.

[Related: Pure Storage: Innovation, Channel Partners Key To 28 Percent Revenue Growth Year Over Year]  

Cloud Block Store for AWS allows Pure Storage's Purity operating system used in the company's FlashArray all-flash storage arrays to run natively on AWS, giving customers enterprise-grade block storage delivered in the public cloud using the same management system as on-premises block storage, Kixmoeller told CRN.

"Customers in beta testing have validated its use cases for moving storage to the cloud with consistent management of data whether it's on-premises or in the cloud," he said.  

Pure Storage is not the first to bring a storage array's software to the cloud, Kixmoeller said. However, he said, when competitors bring their flash storage to the cloud, they typically install it on Amazon's EBS, or Elastic Block Store, which makes it look and act like a hard drive.

"But EBS is expensive, and there's no guarantee a customer won't suffer from multiple fails," he said. "We architected Cloud Block Store for AWS to use Amazon S3 on the back end. This provides a persistent storage tier to provide high availability."  

Kixmoeller said to think of the software for Cloud Block Store for AWS in two parts. The top part, which is the data management interface, looks exactly the same as the Purity OS software on the FlashArray, and provides all the features and reliability customers expect, he said.

The bottom part was actually optimized for AWS to provide a consistent management experience between on-premises and cloud storage, as well as for efficiency on the cloud, Kixmoeller said.  

"Cloud storage is more expensive," he said. "It has to be efficient."

Use cases for Cloud Block Storage for AWS include migration of data from on-premises to the cloud and back, disaster recovery to the cloud, test/dev, and high availability between multiple availability zones, Kixmoeller said.  

Cloud Block Storage for AWS is available as a subscription, Kixmoeller said. Customers looking for a short-term contract, perhaps as a way to test the service or for limited-term use, can subscribe via the AWS Marketplace. However, he said, for longer contracts, Pure Storage will bring customers to sign up via channel partners.

A key feature of Cloud Block Storage for AWS is its licensing, which allows data to be moved between on-premises and the cloud without the need to buy new licenses, Kixmoeller said.

Customers can also get the technology as a service as part of the Pure-as-a-Service program, he said. Pure-as-a-Service is the new name for the company's Evergreen service, which allows its storage arrays to be updated any time with the latest hardware and software without the need for downtime. The service was renamed because of its extension to the cloud, he said.

Pure-as-a-Service truly allows storage to be treated as an operating expense, giving customers that have a cloud-first strategy the ability to test that strategy without a large up-front expenditure, said Mark Gonzalez, regional vice president of sales at ePlus, a Herndon, Va.-based solution provider and Pure Storage channel partner.

"Customers can sign up for 1 Petabyte of storage, with 900 TB on-prem and 100 TB in the cloud," Gonzalez told CRN. "If after a year they find 900 TB in the cloud and 100 TB on-prem, they will be using the same licenses."

This flexibility is important for customers that have data that needs to move between on-premises and the cloud, Gonzalez said.

"Look at retail," he said. "October through January is their busy season. Imagine a model where they can dial up and down cloud storage. Now they can do that, with Pure taking all the risk. This may be the biggest news Pure is making this week."  

Also new from Pure Storage this week is CloudSnap for Azure, a new version of its software that until now has moved data snapshots to AWS for data protection, making this the company's first multi-cloud offering, Kixmoeller said.

"People ask if we are on AWS only, or are multi-cloud," he said. "Our long-term plan is to proliferate our technology on all clouds. CloudSnap is a built-in data protection tool on our FlashArray, and was already available for AWS. Now it's available for Azure as well. You can view this as the beginning of our multi-cloud strategy."

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