Pure FlashBlade tackles scale-out unstructured data

Pure Storage launches a blade-based, scale-out unstructured data all-flash system that handles NAS and object storage. The vendor also brings out an entry-level version of its SAN flash array.

Pure Storage Inc. expanded its all-flash storage today to include a scale-out NAS and object system, and added...

a sub-$50,000 entry-level version of its flagship SAN array platform.

The Pure FlashBlade for unstructured data is a new architecture for the all-flash pioneer, which, until now, had one storage platform.

"This is about bringing flash to places where it was not before," said Matt Kixmoeller, Pure's vice president of products. "Until now, Pure concentrated on structured data, but we believe flash can impact a much larger part of the data landscape."

FlashBlade follows EMC's DSSD D5 with high performance

Unlike Pure's other arrays that use standard solid-state drives, FlashBlade is built on custom flash modules.

FlashBlade is aimed at high-performance computing use cases, such as digital engineering, Hadoop and other big data analytics, and Web-scale cloud applications. Kixmoeller said it will compete at times with EMC's recently launched DSSD D5 shared flash storage system.

Each FlashBlade is a 4U chassis that holds 15 blades, with either 8 TB or 52 TB of flash capacity per blade. The blades also include Intel Xeon-D system on a chip for compute, raw NAND flash storage, NVRAM capacity to protect writes in-flight, dynamic RAM memory and PCIe connectivity.

FlashBlade's Elasticity software provides an object store, scale-out NFS and Amazon Simple Storage Service protocol support, compression, encryption, erasure coding, flash management and error correction.

Unlike Pure's SAN systems, FlashBlade will not include data deduplication and replication at the start, but Kixmoeller said they are planned for future releases. Pure said it also plans support for CIFS and Hadoop Distributed File System in future releases.

Pure's new Elastic Fabric allows FlashBlade to scale. The fabric includes built-in software-defined 40 Gigabit Ethernet interconnect and client connectivity. Quality of service handles traffic prioritization.

FlashBlade can scale to 1.6 PB of effective capacity in a 4U chassis, assuming 3:1 data reduction.

Customers can add blades to scale nondisruptively. FlashBlade can scale to 1.6 PB of effective capacity in a 4U chassis, assuming 3:1 data reduction. A chassis can deliver up to 15 Gb per second of bandwidth.

The first FlashBlade systems support two-chassis clusters, although Kixmoeller said Pure plans to expand that. "The system is designed for hundreds of blades," he said.

Pure claimed FlashBlade will cost less than $1 per usable GB, including data reduction. The FlashBlade early-access program begins today, with general availability expected in the second half of 2016.

Eric Burgener, storage research director at IDC, said the addition of FlashBlade for file and object storage means Pure "can offer you a system based on flash that can accommodate any kind of workload in the enterprise."

Burgener said he expects other vendors to launch scale-out flash systems that will compete with FlashBlade and EMC's DSSD D5.

"Real-time analytics, the market that DSSD went after, is going to be a more mainstream platform. You need to build a different storage architecture that can operate efficiently at multipetabyte scale," he said. "This is different than the all-flash arrays out now that won't be efficient operating at 10 PB of scale. I suspect we'll see more of these [scale-out] systems over the next year."

FlashArray m10 can grow into larger system

The FlashArray m10 is a smaller-capacity version of the FlashArray m series, which Pure brought out in 2015. The m10 is designed for small businesses and departments or remote offices of larger companies. The m10 includes up to 10 TB of raw SSD capacity. 

Pure claimed the m10 supports up to 100,000 32K IOPS, with less than one millisecond latency. As with other FlashArray systems, it uses MLC and TLC 3D NAND SSDs.

Customers can upgrade to a larger FlashArray by trading in their controllers toward the price of larger m controllers.

The m10 will compete mainly with low-end all-flash systems from Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise that launched in 2015.

The FlashArray m10 will be available in June.

The m10 will also part of FlashStack reference architectures with partner Cisco. FlashStack Mini with Microsoft Hyper-V and FlashStack Mini with VMware Horizon View for virtual desktops combine the m10 with Cisco UCS Mini servers.

Next Steps

How the flash storage market shook out in 2015

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