The 2017 second annual Pure //Accelerate conference was held at Pier 70 in San Francisco, CA on June 13-14, 2017. The conference was attended by 1,600 people. Along with the conference, Pure Storage held its annual analyst and influencer program. In Neuralytix’s opinion, the conference was a thorough success, based on our informal survey of attendees.
During the conference, Pure Storage announced a staggering 27 enhancements and updates to its FlashArray and FlashBlade all-flash arrays, and Pure1 support service. From the financial side, Scott Dietzen, CEO of Pure Storage expressed a desire to hit the magical $1B run rate by next fiscal year, and to be at a $2B run rate within three years. While history is no predictor of the future, Neuralytix believes that these are attainable and reasonable targets for Pure Storage.
Figures 1-3 shows the announcements and the associated availability.
While this is a dizzying array of announcements for a company of Pure Storage’s size, there were several standout items that we will comment on below. For the other items, they represent, for the most part, catch-up features that further bring Pure Storage arrays better in-line with offerings from more established vendors (such as ActiveCluster, Policy QoS and VVOLs for FlashArray, IPv6 and SnapShots for FlashBlade). That said, these “catch-up” features, when considered not as parts, but the sum of the parts, makes Pure Storage arrays one of the most feature-rich all-flash reliable storage systems in the market today. So, while each individual “catch-up” feature may be found in one or some of Pure Storage’s competitors, when you take into consideration ALL the features, including existing features, Pure Storage arrays, in Neuralytix’s opinion, continues to be the leader in the all-flash array market.
New Features for FlashArray
While NAND flash prices continue to drop, it is still the most expensive media available. So, using NAND flash to store (hopefully) infrequently used data such as snapshots can be a costly exercise that can be offloaded elsewhere. And, where else, but the Cloud would one turn to! CloudSnap now enables FlashArrays to store snapshots on the array, on a FlashBlade, and in Amazon Web Services (AWS). This is a very clever idea, and Pure Storage advises that they will be working hard to extend the capabilities of CloudSnap to eventually enabling hydration of the snapshots within AWS, say, in an EC2 instance for fault and disaster tolerance.
Perhaps the most interesting new feature from Pure Storage is Purity//Run, which allows customers to run their own software from within the FlashArray. Essentially, Pure Storage has provided a Docker container system that allows customers to put software such as backup software, or, in Pure Storage’s case, run Windows File Services (WFS) in one of these VMs. By no means is Purity//Run a full hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solution. For example, Pure Storage does not recommend running VDI or a database on Purity//Run. But this opens up new use cases for data specific applications such as anti-virus.
Neuralytix asked the engineering team why they did not build out a full HCI system, and the decision taken by Pure Storage was that they would have to upgrade the processors significantly, and deploy a scale-out capability. Since FlashArray is geared towards the mid market and above, they felt that at this time, the opportunity was not big enough to justify the necessary changes.
New Features for FlashBlade
Another exciting new feature is the availability of a S3 compatible object store for FlashBlade. The capability went general availability (GA) at 10pm the night before Pure //Accelerate started. Pure has designed a completely separate object interface independent of its file interfaces for FlashBlade. They claim that the combination of their advanced flash technology, and this separate object interface that is S3 compatible, customers can now develop applications that are high performance workloads and use objects as the primary data store. This reverses the previously generally accepted idea that object stores were too slow for tier 1 applications, and has since been relegated to tier 2 or tier 3 storage only.
Many of FlashBlade’s workloads need large amounts of data. While FlashBlade is capable of hosting half a petabyte on each shelf, many customers have needed even more than half a petabyte of storage. In response to this, Pure Storage has designed an “aggregation module” (full product name yet to be released) that comes as two 1RU top of rack switches, each with 32 100Gbps connections to connect up to five FlashBlades together delivering up to 8PB of flash storage in 22RU. This capability is expected in Q4.
New Features for Pure1
Pure Storage has always had a superior phone home capability in which 80% of the tech support cases are Pure Storage initiated cases, as opposed to 20% that are customer initiated cases. Behind this is an intelligent machine learning driven engine. Pure1 META extends this. The idea behind this is to enable Pure Storage to have deeper understanding of the metadata, and create profiles that are associated with specific workloads so that it can enable Pure Storage to tune the storage to meet the customer’s workloads.
Workload Planner and DNA
Resulting from that is a fingerprint or a workload based DNA profile. This can help Pure Storage and the customer match up ideal sizing to optimize capacity and performance. Pure Storage intends to gather data from all its units and through Pure1 META engage machine learning to come up with these DNA fingerprints, and allow customers to use Workload Planner to see the impact of new workloads on their arrays.
During the conference, Pure Storage, along with Cisco demonstrated how NVMe/F is a reality, and with its FlashArray //X that contains end-to-end NVMe, it can now deliver the speed and flexibility of NVMe over fabrics.
The overall direction of Pure Storage is impressive. It recognized early, that it cannot be a single product company, and that the focus is not on the storage, but on the data. Solutions such as Pure1 META and Workload DNA profiling will enable Pure Storage to be viewed as a data platform, rather than just another All-Flash Array (AFA) company. Pure Storage has also exploited its technology alliance partners such as Cisco and Rubrik to deliver state-of-the-art solutions.
Neuralytix continues to be very bullish on Pure Storage. So far, Pure Storage has made some very good bets that are paying off.