Should You Consider Pure Storage as your Next Array?

March 6, 2014 3 By Eric Shanks

PURE

If you are coming up on a storage refresh cycle soon, Pure Storage is worth taking a look at as your new storage array.  I was fortunate enough to see them present their solution at Virtualization Field Day 3 this year and got a good look at their storage.

All travel expenses and incidentals were paid for by Gestalt IT to attend Virtual Field Day 3. This was the only compensation given.

Before seeing “Pure” at VFD3, I was under the assumption that it was a really fast array, that was probably out of the price range of most customers in the SMB space that I’ve dealt with.  After seeing them present at VFD3, I realized that my assumptions were really off.

I won’t get into the speed and performance of the array because I haven’t been able to test it.  Brian Suhr makes a good point on his blog about not regurgitating marketing material on things unless you’ve been able to test them in the lab yourself and I’d like to try to adhere to this logic as well.  But knowing that Pure is an all flash array that was built from the ground up with flash in mind, it has to be pretty fast right?

The things that Pure Storage is doing that really impressed me were soft metrics that don’t show up on a datasheet.

Forever Flash

“Pure” has an alliterative program called “Forever Flash” that helps to alleviate maintenance costs of your array.  Traditionally, an array has a life span around three years, after which you need to renew your maintenance contract (usually at an increased rate to pay for aging technology support) or you replace the array with another expensive piece of equipment.

Pure Storage will actually allow you to either:

  • Renew your first year contract pricing on  your existing array as long as its growing (you’re adding disksshelves)
  • Get a free upgrade to your controllers after three years if your array isn’t growing

This is a pretty big deal to a smaller sized company where the maintenance contracts can typically be harder to swallow than the price of the actual array.

 

MLC Drives

Pure uses the lower cost MLC Solid State Drives in their arrays in an effort to try to keep their price point low.  Generally using MLC drives vs the SLC drives will cause you to have a higher Mean-Time to Failure where the SSD’s will just not last as long.  “Pure” however, claims that they’ve only lost 5 drives in the time they’ve been operating, across all of their customers.  THIS IS AN AMAZING FEET.  I’ll take them at their word that this is true, but is pretty impressive if accurate.

Pure Storage would attribute this ability to how their controllers write data to the disks after doing inline deduplication and compression before bothering to write to disk.

 

Simplicity

We were able to see a demo of the array software and it’s very simple.  Most of the settings that you might have with a traditional storage array are missing because the mindset is, “It’s Fast, and you don’t need to tweak stuff”.  Another example of this is the block size is only 512 bytes.  A byte size of this size removes the problems of having misaligned blocks.  If it’s a 4K block (pretty standard size) you can have misalignment which will then also hurt deduplication if this is a capability.

No silos for your applications.  Put all of your workloads on this array.  This is an all flash array so their isn’t a need to consider where to put your workloads.  No tiering of your workloads should be necessary.

Professional Services are not required to do the initial setup which will also help lower the cost of ownership.  It’s not really needed anyway because there are only a few things to configure to setup the array anyway.

Also, a very nice “feature” was that all of the capabilities of the array are available to you without going through an A La Carte licensing scenario.  There isn’t any “oh the array is $ but if you want the software capabilities we’ll bill you extra for the ones that you want.  If you buy a Pure Array, you’ve got the capabilities including encrypting all the data that is on the drives.

 

Conclusion

I was pleasantly surprised at some of the things that Pure Storage was doing to give customers a better experience with their array and it’s not just a Flash Array.  As always, don’t take my word for it, do your research.

Scott Lowe wrote a nice article about Pure Storage as well that I invite you to check out, as well as the Virtualization Field Day 3 videos.

Lastly, there is a guarantee!

 

pureguarantee