Written by: Marc Bingham
Date: June 2015
//M is for…?
With the greatest of fanfares Pure Storage unveiled its updated product portfolio to the world recently. In a huge public affair Pure showed off its new 3 pillars that it hopes will reinvent the storage industry. Let’s take a quick look to see what all of the fuss is about.
Firstly there is the introduction of 3 new array families, the //m20, //m50 //70. Then, there is the new Evergreen maintenance model and finally there is the new Pure1 monitoring and analysis platform. So what does all this mean?
//M is for Mini.
4 years after shipping its first array, Pure have redesigned their arrays from the ground up. They’ve moved away from the controllers and disk shelves being separated and moved to a single consolidated chassis containing both elements in a single 3 rack U box needing just 6 cables to set it up.
The baby //m20 unit packs 40TB RAW (120TB effective) into just 3U. The middle range providing 88TB (250TB) in 7U and the big daddy unit packing a huge 136TB (400TB) into just 11U. These are big numbers for an all flash array and it doesn’t stop there. Pure are banking on the release of newer (larger capacity) drives to be shipped from Samsung and Toshiba that will mean being able to replace the installed 2TB drives for much larger ones in the future without adding more shelves.
//M is for Modular
This new chassis now allows for complete modular expandability. Controllers, SSDs, NVRAM, Power and I/O modules can all be changed or upgraded without downtime, disruption to service or performance. Capacity expansion shelves can also be added to the //m50 and //70 appliances, 2 and 4 respectively and again causing no downtime.
//M is for Maximum Performance
These new arrays use the latest Intel-Haswell chipsets and coupling that with PCIe/NVMe 12 GB SAS fabric means getting the absolute maximum performance from the flash layer. The arrays now offer up to 50% higher performance than their predecessors. Each array pushing between 150k and 300k IOPS depending on the model you choose. All of this at sub millisecond latency means blisteringly high performance.
//M is for Maintenance
Pure Storage also announced its new “Evergreen” maintenance model. This is essentially a support contract with parts and upgrades included and provided via “just in time” delivery. As long as the customer maintains a support contract Pure will provide replacement SSDs and Controllers should they fail. They’ll also replace the controllers every 3 years as a matter of course.
Often when talking to customers about SSD drives concerns about “drive wear” comes up. There is a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt in the storage industry about the reliability of MLC Flash and most of this is based on historical problems. In truth most array manufacture’s software layer now contain some form of wear levelling that all but negates the problems faced with using flash in production systems. Pure is no different, however with the announcement of the Evergreen maintenance model it means that even if a drive does fail, a new one is on its way in no time.
//M is for Monitoring
Finally its time for the cherry on the cake. Pure have created a cloud based support product called Pure1 that actively monitors every array they ship and continuously calls home with 10,000 unique data points. This provides Pure with near real-time data about each array, which enables the Pure support team to provide support to thousands of customers often before they know a problem has occurred. Support issues can be tracked automatically and Pure support staff can roll out software updates seamlessly and without fear of interruption to service.
So what does //M mean to us?
There’s no denying that there is a place for all flash arrays on the market. They’re slowly gathering pace and we’re seeing start-ups like Pure make huge strides into the industry share. Yesterday’s release shows that Pure has invested heavily in attempting to commoditise the all-flash array (AFA) into something competitive. These new features bring Pure Storage right up alongside the big vendors in the market and now Pure now has features and offerings that appeal to most people when choosing arrays. So what’s stopping everyone from buying them?
Well that’s mainly down to cost. There’s no getting away from the fact that all flash arrays can be prohibitively expensive for many businesses. Many IT budgets simply don’t have this kind of reach. However some business do really need this level of performance from their storage and a simple cache miss can be a real headache for some SAN admins. If you have a need for this level of performance then it’s likely that you have this kind of budget too. Ultimately however, enough AFAs will be sold to fully commoditise the market and that will inevitably push down the price of SSD. When that happens Pure are perfectly placed to take centre stage.
If you’d like to know a little more about Pure Storage why not get in touch?