Pure Storage Goes Low, High With New Flash Storage Systems
Joseph F. Kovar
With the additions to its all-flash storage array lineup, Pure Storage now covers the gamut of storage needs from the entry-level and secondary storage levels to the highest-performance storage level, as well as to the cloud via its Cloud Block Store line, says Dan Kogan, Pure Storage vice president of product management for FlashArray.
All-flash storage technology developer Pure Storage Wednesday used its Pure//Accelerate 2023 conference to introduce major performance updates to its high-performance FlashArray//X and its low-cost FlashArray//C lines.
In addition, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company expanded its new Pure//E family of all-flash arrays, a line the company said it priced to replace spinning disk-based arrays, with the introduction of its new FlashArray//E.
Pure Storage also introduced its new R4 generation of its FlashArray//X and FlashArray//C all-flash arrays, said Dan Kogan, vice president of product management for FlashArray.
The FlashArray//X is Pure Storage’s low-latency, performance-optimized arrays based on high-performance TLC flash technology and are targeted at online transaction processing and virtual desktop environments, Kogan said. The FlashArray//C is based on low-cost QLC flash technology for a slightly higher latency and is aimed at workloads that don’t require the highest performance, including secondary data, he said.
Pure Storage also has a FlashArray//XL for the highest-performing applications but it is not getting an upgrade similar to the R4 upgrade, he said.
The R4 series, which will take the place of the R3 series introduced about three years ago, delivers what Kogan called the largest performance gain between generations in the company’s history.
“Typically we see a 15 [percent] to 20 percent performance boost,” he said. “That was R2 to R3. We are now seeing about a 30 [percent] to 40 percent performance boost between the R3 and the R4, which is coming to customers at no additional cost. If you are an Evergreen subscriber, you’re going to get access to that right away. And you can do a completely nondisruptive upgrade.”
The main driver of the performance increase is the new Intel Sapphire Rapids chipset with Pure Storage software optimizations around it, as well as the use of the fourth-generation PCIe bus, Kogan said.
Pure Storage’s FlashArray//E, meanwhile, is a new low-cost unified file and block data-focused all-flash array. It is a follow-on to Pure Storage’s March introduction of the FlashBlade//E, which targets the same unstructured data storage currently dominated by spinning disk-based arrays.
Another primary difference between the two is capacity, Kogan said. While the FlashBlade//E features 4 petabytes to 20 petabytes of capacity, the new FlashArray//E offers 1 petabyte to 4 petabytes, making it easier for customers to initially deploy, he said.
The two both feature the same operating system and protocols but target different use cases, Kogan said.
“If it’s unified block and file that you’re after, FlashArray is the product for you,” he said. “If it’s unified file and object you’re after, FlashBlade is the product for you. I don’t think we expect to see a lot of block data on the in the E-series getting used. So if you’re storing object data at that scale, FlashBlade//E is the right product.”
With the additions to the Pure Storage all-flash storage array lineup, the company now covers the gamut of storage needs from the entry-level and secondary storage levels to the highest-performance storage level, as well as to the cloud via the company’s Cloud Block Store line, Kogan said. And it does so using the company’s own proprietary DirectFlash modules instead of off-the-shelf SSDs, he said.
As such, it’s a very unique offering, he said.
“While there are different hardware models there, along with the ability to run storage on Azure and AWS natively, it is the exact same operating system across the whole spectrum,” he said. “There are no changes. It is the same UI [user interface]. It is the same set of APIs. It is managed through Pure1 as an AIOps-driven management platform. You can build a completely autonomous storage-as-code infrastructure around all of this with Pure Fusion as a control plane. So this really rounds out and completes the portfolio and allows Pure Storage and its partners to go after the entire set of data center workloads and hybrid cloud workloads.”
Furthermore, Kogan said, Pure Storage is the only vendor doing it from a common operating base.
“Taken together, we believe this is what allows Pure and our partners to deliver to customers the most efficient data center they could possibly build, one that includes an energy power savings data center footprint kind of physical efficiency standpoint, but also the human capital that it takes to operate this kind of environment and the ability to now remove storage specialization in terms of roles and allow employees to be a lot more flexible with their time,” he said.
That also ensures customers benefit from supply chain efficiencies, he said.
Other technologies that were introduced for the FlashArray//XL are also being brought to the FlashArray//X and FlashArray//C lines, Kogan said. This includes 64-Gbit and 100-Gbit Ethernet connectivity options and NVMe-over-Fabric, he said. “And we’re the only vendor offering NVMe connectivity for Fibre Channel, RoCE [RDMA over converged Ethernet], and TCP,” he said.
Also coming to the Pure Storage product lines are higher-capacity DirectFlash modules, Kogan said. For the low-cost QLC flash side, the company will soon introduce 75-TB versions. On the high-performance TLC side, he said to expect 36-TB versions.
The new FlashArray//E really puts Pure Storage in position to handle all the workloads clients have, said Archie James, vice president of business development at Converge Technology Solutions, a Toronto-based solution provider and longtime Pure Storage channel partner.
“This gives us an opportunity to replace a lot of data storage because of its speed and power versus disk systems while offering a similar price,” James told CRN. “Now for every workload, a client can look to Pure Storage to manage it.”
Pure Storage is talking about replacing existing spinning disks with FlashArray//E, James said.
“Pure has been talking about the all-flash data center and its ability to displace spinning disks, but those disks are still around,” he said. “Coz [Pure Storage Founder and Chief Visionary Officer John Colgrove ]told us Tuesday at Accelerate that the overall total cost of ownership of flash storage, including sustainability, data center space, and sustainability, now gives Pure the ability to say there’s no need for spinning disks.”
That said, James said, the replacement is not going to happen overnight.
“I bust a side when I hear some folks say, ‘I already paid for spinning disks,’” he said. “Pure has a compelling story that will get people to buy flash storage instead of spinning disks. So it’s not displacing disks, but instead taking new orders from spinning disks.”