This week Pure // Accelerate came to my hometown of Austin, Tx. And for three days, the city was orange; filled with a customer base that is both passionate and enthusiastic.
For this year’s theme, Pure chose the Modern Data Experience. I like the use of the words “data” and “experience” here, as opposed to “data center” and “storage." That is what businesses want. They want companies like Pure to deliver a better experience with data, not just a new storage system and not just something confined to the data center. The modern data experience though is presented as an aspirational goal, one built on a foundation of flash.
A long those lines, this week featured multiple announcements, including:
- The FlashArray//C: “Flash at SATA disk economics” is what was said on stage. This system is designed for the long awaited QLC Flash, the economically efficient, high capacity version of flash with aspirations to possibly, at long last, replace hard drives. From conversations with Pure, the system, which is available today, will leverage TLC flash at first, but offer the projected QLC-level pricing. Pure expects to transition to QLC in the future, sometime next year, delivering the same economic benefit. Will this mean that the hard drive is finally dead? Probably not. But it does mean that flash is getting even more affordable and the benefits can be leveraged for even more workloads.
- DirectMemory Cache: This is an ultra-fast storage class memory (SCM) module for FlashArray. These modules can plug into new or existing FlashArrays, delivering a latency reduction. Pure is also offering management tools with the intelligence to predict the performance benefit prior to deployment. If you think SCM might help, you can check first before you buy. Combined with NVMe over Fabrics, the modules look like they offer a great opportunity to get off internal NVMe SSDs and move to a consolidated, external storage solution.
- Cloud Block Store for Amazon Web Services: All the same Pure FlashArray features, APIs, and management experience can now be deployed on AWS. While Pure is no means the first company to deliver a version of its on-premises storage software as an option to be deployed on the cloud infrastructure services, Cloud Block Store is incredibly compelling. When they walked me through the architecture, the level of innovation was far more than I originally expected. Pure is not looking for this to simply be a proof of concept vehicle or a test/dev option. Pure built a software architecture that is designed to deliver the same enterprise-level availability and performance available with on-premises flash arrays. Several customers I spoke with were already looking at Cloud Block Store as a possible replacement for a secondary site.
In addition to the technology announcements, Pure announced Pure-as-a-Service, which means everything from Pure is available with the choice of a CapEx or OpEx purchasing model. An apparent extension of what they were already doing with ES2, Pure looks to be expanding support to everything they do.
Stepping back and looking at the broader picture, the announcements this week address essentially any possible innovation expected from a flash array vendor, with solutions integrating multiple “next gen” technologies such as QLC, SCM, and the cloud. These offerings expand what is possible with flash, which will benefit Pure and its customer.
That being said, Pure doesn’t want to just deliver a “modern flash system experience.” To complete its Modern Data Experience vision, Pure will need to expand beyond the realm of storage systems. With the foundation for a modern data experience in place, however, I am interested to see where they go from here and if expanding beyond the bounds of storage systems is on the agenda.