ESG Validation

ESG Lab Validation: Consolidating Workloads with VMware and Pure Storage


This ESG Lab Validation report documents hands-on testing and validation of the Pure Storage FlashArray//M storage system. The goal of the report is to prove that tier-1 application workloads such as desktop virtualization, databases, and email can be run on a shared, consolidated storage array without compromising service levels, while delivering consistent sub-millisecond response times. A 5,000-user enterprise was simulated to validate this premise, running on a single all-flash storage array. In addition, failure scenarios were introduced to test resiliency.


The adoption of server virtualization is pervasive among enterprise and midmarket organizations today, and increased use of the technology was identified by more than one-third (36%) of respondents as one of the five areas related to data center modernization in which they plan to make the most significant investments in 2017 (see Figure 1). The data additionally revealed that increasing the use of solid-state/flash technology was also one of the top five areas for data center modernization spending reported by respondent organizations.1

In ESG Lab’s experience, desktop and application virtualization are responsible for some of the most complex and demanding storage workloads in the data center. Organizations are tasked with providing a high-quality, predictable, and productive computing environment for an ever-growing number and range of virtual desktop users. For organizations that have deployed or are considering deploying desktop virtualization, performance is one of the most important metrics to consider in gauging the success of their deployments.

In addition, enterprise application environments have become increasingly unpredictable as their underlying IT infrastructure grows in complexity, size, and criticality to the business. Mission-critical business application performance is highly sensitive to storage performance and latency, and highly dependent on the resilience of the enterprise IT environment. ESG confirmed in a recent research report that flash-based systems have become prevalent in these environments due to their ability to provide extremely high performance at very low response times.

It’s not surprising that many organizations deploying desktop virtualization are doing so with dedicated storage systems separate from the rest of their infrastructure. A number of factors drive IT’s need to maximize the value of their flash-based storage, including the wide variety and number of client devices; “always-on” expectations for IT services; workforce mobilization; regulatory compliance mandates; tightening security requirements; and corporate demands.

Pure Storage FlashArray//M

With the advent of software-defined storage, questions have been raised about the value of custom hardware—in particular, whether storage hardware should be considered a commodity that leverages software exclusively for innovation and development. With the FlashArray//M architecture, Pure Storage has responded, and their answer is a clear “NO.” FlashArray//M is NVMe-ready all-flash storage engineered to combine the speed, simplicity, and scalability needed to enable organizations to power their applications, either on-premises or in the cloud. Pure describes FlashArray//M as effortless, efficient, and evergreen.

  • Effortless—The FlashArray//M is designed to be highly available, leveraging innovative approaches to both hardware and software. In previous testing ESG Lab observed uninterrupted access and full performance through planned upgrade and unplanned outage scenarios. Pure Storage employs array telemetry to predict issues before they impact customers. In conjunction with Pure1, a SaaS-based platform, customers can monitor storage from anywhere and with any device.
  • Efficient—Pure Storage has designed the FlashArray//M to achieve an average 5:1 data reduction ratio across mixed data types and workloads to facilitate consolidation. Integration with partners enables automation of repetitive tasks.
  • Evergreen—Pure employs a modular architecture to ease customer deployment of the array and enables data-in-place upgrades of performance and capacity over the life of the storage in the customer environment while minimizing downtime, performance impact, and data migrations.

Pure provides all software features in FlashArray and Pure1 to customers at no additional cost.

It’s important to note that the performance numbers Pure reports for their arrays are for 32KB IOPS. Many vendors commonly report 4KB IOPS results because systems can service higher numbers of smaller I/O requests. ESG Lab has observed that real-world environments are dominated by I/O that averages around 32 KB. FlashArray//M is designed to adapt automatically to any I/O block size to provide optimal performance, scalability, and data reduction without application tuning.

Pure Storage considers its data reduction technology, FlashReduce, to be a significant differentiator. FlashReduce automatically deduplicates and compresses live data as it is written to the array. Pure claims an average reduction ratio of 5:1, or 80%, but this varies across different types of applications. Figure 4 shows an example of what this would look like in a production environment. It’s important to note that the numbers included here do not include thin provisioning savings; Pure Storage volumes are automatically thin provisioned, which would add to the savings.

Often, the perception of commodity hardware is associated, correctly or incorrectly, with lower storage costs. Ultimately, however, the goal should be to provide value to the customer. The values that Pure aims to provide are ambitious, including but not limited to:

  • Simplicity — The modular design provides online data-in-place upgrades of hardware and software along with the support of capacity expansion shelves. All software features, including HA, DR, snapshots, and management, are included at no additional cost.
  • Manageability — Pure1 provides integrated management and support in a single cloud-based platform, real-time storage analysis with proactive alerting, and monitoring from anywhere with no management installation or maintenance required.
  • Density — Pure provides support for up to 250 TB usable capacity in a 3U chassis, and 1.5 PB in an 11U chassis.
  • Longevity — The solution leverages the modularity of the FlashArray//M for greater generational upgrade flexibility. Controller upgrades every three years are included in maintenance, as are all software updates.
  • Power efficiency — Pure is quite energy-efficient; 250 TB of usable capacity consumes less than 1kW.
  • Resilience – Pure uses a redundant, hot-swappable hardware design with stateless controllers and distributed data mirroring across non-volatile RAM. Data is protected from failure modes specific to flash with a dual parity system called RAID-3D.

Consolidation drives economic savings in the data center, and Pure enables this with its data reduction technology.

FlashArray Analytics with Pure1

In addition to cloud-based management, Pure Storage offers proactive support via Pure1 Global Insight. Pure1 uses collected telemetry data to identify issues proactively before the customer detects them, employing predictive analytics and machine learning. Logs are collected from customers’ arrays every 30 seconds. Global Insight compares those logs against Pure’s issue fingerprint library to identify what needs to be resolved and notifies Pure’s internal support team. Beyond detecting storage issues, Global Insight is also designed to detect issues if storage is not the cause—issues with network connections, for example—Figure 5 details the capabilities included in Pure1.

Pure also offers both performance and capacity analytics in Pure1. The performance analytics feature allows customers to gain more detailed visibility into an array’s performance, such as latency, IOPS, and bandwidth. Performance can be examined more closely at the array or volume level. A customer can also forecast storage consumption via the capacity analytics feature. Using different built-in consumption models (e.g., linear or mirror), the generated forecast allows for better capacity planning for the customer.

Cisco UCS and FlashArray: The FlashStack Infrastructure Solution

This ESG Lab Validation, while focused primarily on exercising and demonstrating the resilience of the FlashArray system in highly consolidated environments, was performed on a unified architecture consisting of compute, fabric, and storage called FlashStack. The FlashStack architecture is pre-tested, pre-validated, and thoroughly documented by Cisco and Pure Storage. The FlashStack platform is designed for consolidated workloads, and can also serve as a highly available platform for private cloud. Organizations use converged infrastructures like FlashStack to streamline operations, increase flexibility and efficiency, and deliver business impact.

Like FlashArray, FlashStack is designed to scale without disruption or changes in management or operational models. Organizations with FlashStack architectures or that are interested in obtaining more information about FlashStack can use the findings in this ESG Lab Validation report to educate themselves on the capabilities of FlashStack in the context of data center availability and resilience.

ESG Lab Validation

This ESG Lab Validation report documents hands-on testing and validation of the Pure Storage FlashArray//M storage system in a FlashStack architecture with Cisco UCS and Nexus fabric. ESG Lab performed hands-on evaluation and testing of Pure Storage FlashArray//M with VMware at Pure Storage facilities in Mountain View, California. Testing was designed to validate the consolidation potential offered by a single FlashArray//M storage system with a focus on delivering high levels of predictable performance for multiple, simultaneously running, tier-1 application workloads. The ability to sustain these high-performance levels through various storage hardware failures was also tested.

Getting Started

ESG Lab began with a pre-wired and pre-configured test bed as summarized in Figure 6. A VMware vSphere 6.0 virtualized infrastructure was deployed on 32 Cisco UCS B2000 M4 blade servers, each leveraging a 12-core, 2.3 GHz processor with 256 GB of RAM. Service profiles for all servers were created using a service profile template with vNIC and vHBA templates, and the VMware adapter policy was selected for both. Boot-from-SAN functionality was configured by utilizing the private volume feature of the Pure FlashArray software.

The servers were connected to redundant Cisco UCS 6248UP fabric interconnects via 10Gb Ethernet with the last eight ports of each interconnect configured as Fibre Channel (FC) ports. The interconnects were configured in End Host Mode for both FC and Ethernet, and were connected to redundant Nexus 5500UP storage and network switches, which were also configured to support both FC and Ethernet. The switches were then connected via two pairs of 8GB FC cables to a Pure Store FlashArray//M50 running Purity 4.5.1 software with two drive packs.

The servers, fabric, and storage were connected in a manner consistent with the FlashStack architecture as defined in the Cisco Validated Design FlashStack Virtual Server Infrastructure for VMware vSphere available on the Cisco website.2

Five common, mission-critical applications were deployed within the VMware virtualized infrastructure, including a VDI environment, three unique database environments, and an email environment. The VDI environment was managed and controlled by VMware Horizon 6, the virtual desktop host platform for VMware vSphere. Fifteen-hundred non-persistent, linked-clone virtual desktops were created from a Horizon desktop image template, which leveraged a 32GB base image. Each desktop was configured with Windows 7 Enterprise edition (64-bit) and utilized two vCPUs, 4 GB of RAM, one vmxnet3 vNIC adapter, and one LSI Logic virtual storage adapter. Installed applications included Microsoft Office 2010, Adobe Reader 11, Flash Player Active X, Doro 182, Internet Explorer, Archive-7Zip, and Windows Media Player.3

Two Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Enterprise Edition instances were created, one as an OLTP database and the other as a data warehouse for decision support. The OLTP database instance ran in a VM with 128 GB of RAM, ten vCPUs, and four vSockets. A 300,000-user database was spread across a file group consisting of nine files and totaled 3.2 TBs. The data warehouse database consisted of a primary data file that totaled 656 GB with a log file of 297 GB.

For email, testing leveraged a Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 environment that consisted of 5,000 mailboxes with a size of 1 GB each. The email database was configured with 4.91 TB and a log file that was set to truncate. Lastly, a 1 TB Oracle OLTP database was configured to support up to 128 concurrent users.

ESG Lab leveraged both the VMware vCenter and Pure Storage web management interfaces to manage and monitor the deployed applications. Figure 7 shows the five running virtualized applications in VMware vCenter, while the Pure Storage dashboard shows alerts, real-time performance metrics, and capacity information for those applications. It’s important to note that the Pure Storage Dashboard is available as both a native web GUI and as a vSphere web client plug-in. In this report, all Pure Storage screenshots are taken from the native GUI.

Once the workloads were up and running, ESG Lab also tested the resiliency of the solution by simulating various component failures with a goal of understanding the minimal performance impact on the collective workloads.

Why This Matters

In a dynamic IT environment, the ability to quickly provision and manage data services is crucial for enabling IT administrators to meet the demands of the business. As IT is being asked to do more with less, they need flexible, easy-to-use tools that enable efficient provisioning and management with minimal effort. This is especially true in virtual server environments, where application consolidation can help improve resource utilization while meeting strict budget requirements.

By leveraging a Pure Storage FlashArray//M as the underlying storage system, organizations gain peace of mind that all of their most demanding tier-1 virtualized applications can run simultaneously and still meet their performance and availability SLAs. Organizations gain the benefit of centralized storage management via the VMware vCenter management interface and vRealize private cloud suite of products with built-in Pure Storage integration.

Consolidating Workloads

ESG Lab leveraged the virtualized infrastructure to run performance tests on each of the five deployed applications simultaneously with a goal of showing how the Pure Storage FlashArray//M can easily satisfy the demanding performance requirements of a consolidated, virtualized infrastructure. The test process consisted of starting one of the application workloads, waiting for steady state, and then launching the next applications until all five were running simultaneously. Throughout the process, ESG Lab used the Pure Storage management interface to monitor the latency, IOPS, and throughput of each application, as well as the cumulative performance metrics.

The first workload was driven by Login VSI to emulate the activity of 1,500 Horizon virtual desktops. Login VSI is an industry-standard virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) benchmarking tool that validates application performance and response times for various predefined VDI workloads with an ultimate goal of showing the desktop density potential for a given set of hardware and software components. This is done by mimicking typical user behavior in well-known desktop applications like Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and Adobe Acrobat reader. For this phase of testing, a “heavy” workload was run to simulate the behavior of a typical “power user.”

A log-on storm of the 1,500 virtual desktops was simulated, which represents a large number of end-users launching their virtual desktops at the same time. This can often lead to high response times and degradation of services due to the overwhelming number of data requests. As shown in Figure 8, ESG Lab witnessed consistent, sub-millisecond latency as the workload ramped up and eventually hit steady state.

Next, the Microsoft Exchange Jetstress 2013 workload was used to emulate the storage activity of typical email users. Jetstress simulates the Exchange database and log file loads produced by a specified number of users. Jetstress was configured to emulate up to 5,000 mailboxes per VM with a mailbox size of 1 GB and an I/O rate of .5 IOPS per mailbox.

Next, the DSS workload was simulated using HammerDB, an industry-standard, open source database load testing and benchmarking tool. The test was configured with a scale factor of 700, 150 virtual users, 100 iterations, and a MAXDOP of eight. Once steady state was achieved, a proprietary Microsoft OLTP test tool was used to simulate the activity of thousands of Microsoft SQL Server users. The workload itself emulated the database activity of users in a typical online brokerage firm as they generated trades, performed account inquiries, and executed market research. The workload was composed of ten transaction types with a defined ratio of execution. Four of the transactions performed database updates, and the rest were read only.

For the last workload, an OLTP workload was run on an Oracle database. The widely adopted and publicly available Silly Little Oracle Benchmark (SLOB) kit was used to efficiently generate realistic system-wide, random, single-block, and application-independent SQL queries. The SLOB benchmark tool exercised all components of the server and storage subsystems by stressing the physical I/O layer of Oracle through SGA-buffered random I/O without being limited to a specific load-generating application.

Figure 9 shows the total IOPS of each of the five workloads as they ramped up and hit steady state. The time intervals demonstrate that over the course of an hour and a half, all five applications were launched and hit steady state. It should be noted that latency was another performance metric that was measured and throughout the launching of each application, latency remained manageably low, with response times remaining under 1ms in all cases.

An important aspect of consolidating workloads is understanding the performance impact that each application could have on the others when they’re running simultaneously. With that in mind, ESG Lab went back to the initial VDI workload and looked at each performance metric over the course of the hour and a half. As each application workload started and eventually hit steady state, there was little to no performance impact to the initial VDI workload. This is crucial to delivering a virtual desktop environment that can meet the demands of end-users who demand constant, uninterrupted access to their essential desktop applications. Figure 10 shows the I/O latency of the Horizon workload as each application was started, with callouts pointing to the time intervals where workloads were started.

Once all the workloads were running simultaneously, ESG Lab navigated back to the main dashboard view of the Pure Storage management interface to view cumulative performance metrics. As shown in Figure 11, I/O latency of the simultaneously running simulated applications remained manageably low, while IOPS and throughput remained stable and predictable. The ability of the Pure Storage FlashArray//M to deliver consistent and predictable performance to all five application workloads simultaneously was impressive to ESG Lab. Each workload not only had different performance requirements, but also put a different demand on the underlying storage platform, and the FlashArray//M was easily able to support it.

For email, testing leveraged a Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 environment that consisted of 5,000 mailboxes with a size of 1 GB each. The email database was configured with 4.91 TB and a log file that was set to truncate. Lastly, a 1 TB Oracle OLTP database was configured to support up to 128 concurrent users.

ESG Lab leveraged both the VMware vCenter and Pure Storage web management interfaces to manage and monitor the deployed applications. Figure 6 shows the five running virtualized applications in VMware vCenter, while the Pure Storage dashboard shows alerts, real-time performance metrics, and capacity information for those applications. It’s important to note that the Pure Storage Dashboard is available as both a native web GUI and as a vSphere web client plug-in. In this report, all Pure Storage screenshots are taken from the native GUI.

The next phase of testing looked at the recomposition of all 1,500 virtual desktops on top of the other workloads. The recompose process consists of attaching a linked-clone VDI environment to a new replica, which forces users into a brand new virtual desktop environment. This is an intrusive operation that can cause existing users to lose connectivity to their virtual desktops. In ESG’s testing, the four other mission-critical applications were started and, once steady state was achieved, the 1,500 virtual desktop boot-storm started. Once complete, the recompose operation was initiated.

Figure 12 displays a view of the performance metrics after the other four workloads had reached a steady state. The virtual desktop ramp-up time took approximately 50 minutes. Next, the recompose was started, which led to a brief, five-minute interval where the linked-clone replicas were created. During this period of time, a latency spike of approximately 2 ms occurred for less than one minute. The latency then returned to its normal sub-millisecond measurement throughout the rest of the recompose process.

Why This Matters

Leveraging virtualization to consolidate workloads can help drive higher levels of infrastructure efficiency through improved resource utilization, but when multiple applications share the same underlying storage system, problems can quickly arise. A burst of I/O activity from one application (e.g., a long-running database query) can significantly impact all the other applications, leading to poor response times, lost productivity, and, in the worst case, lost revenue.

ESG Lab validated that five virtualized, mission-critical applications were easily consolidated onto a single Pure Storage FlashArray//M without impacting each other. As the simulated real-world workloads ramped up, the performance of a demanding VDI infrastructure that supported 1,500 heavy users remained high. Specifically, for consolidated, mixed workload virtual environments, the variety of I/O types and sizes can wreak havoc on the latency of each application, which is arguably the most important performance metric to pay attention to in these types of environments. ESG Lab confirmed sub-millisecond response times for each application throughout all phases of testing, with the exception of a less-than-a-minute bump in latency to just 2 ms during a recompose.

High Availability and Resilience

The Pure Storage FlashArray//M platform leverages hardware and software innovations designed to provide a highly available storage infrastructure that delivers uninterrupted access and full performance through both hardware and software upgrades as well as outages. The modular and fully redundant FlashArray//M hardware platform is highly available and field-serviceable in a compact, energy-efficient package. Pure merges an active-active front-end with an active stand-by back-end to minimize the impact of scheduled and unscheduled outages.

FlashArray//M also includes built-in data protection, with the ability to support thousands of capacity-efficient snapshots per volume for local protection and remote replication, enabling deep data retention and offsite protection.

ESG Lab Testing

The FlashArray//M50 chassis used in ESG Lab testing contained two active controllers, two NVRAM modules, and two drive packs totaling 20 terabytes.

ESG Lab validated the reliability and serviceability of the FlashArray//M by injecting system faults, monitoring the system for alerts, and non-disruptively replacing failed components with the same I/O-intensive mixed application workloads running in the background. After each error injection and correction, ESG Lab waited for steady state before proceeding to the next test.

As shown in Figure 13, the following errors were injected during ESG Lab testing:

  1. Unplug a redundant FC host interface cable.
  2. Remove an NVRAM module.
  3. Reboot the secondary controller.
  4. Reboot the primary controller.
  5. Remove a field replaceable flash module.
  6. Remove a second field replaceable flash module.

First, ESG Lab pulled one of the Fibre Channel cables to simulate a SAN failure. An alert was quickly displayed in the Pure1 management interface. After letting the system run for five minutes, the cable was plugged back in. There was a very small dip in IOPS at disconnection and again at reconnection, with no measurable change in response time as traffic rebalanced.

ESG Lab then pulled one of the two NVRAM modules. When the module was pulled, there was a spike in response time to 3ms for less than one minute, which quickly dropped back down to the steady state level of below 600µs. After a five-minute wait, the module was plugged back in.

As seen in Figure 14, there was no measurable change in IOPS or bandwidth and no further effect on response time.

Next, ESG Lab rebooted the controllers in succession, mimicking a scenario that would be experienced during a software or controller hardware upgrade. Figure 15 shows the performance of the system as reported by the Pure1 console.

There were minor, transient impacts on IOPS and bandwidth as the controllers rebooted, but I/O never stopped and only the reboot of the primary controller had any effect on response time, driving it up to just over 1ms for roughly two minutes.

Finally, ESG Lab simulated multiple flash module failures by pulling randomly selected flash modules. A single module failure was simulated, followed by a double module failure. As seen in Figure 16, neither the loss of one nor the loss of two flash modules had any significant impact on IOPS, bandwidth, or response time.

In all cases, the application workload continued running without error and no entries were found in operating system event logs.

Why This Matters

Business continuity and disaster recovery were among the top ten most-cited business initiatives that would drive significant technology spending in 2017.4 As IT strives to bring applications and services to customers and users dynamically and on demand, virtualization of servers, desktops, and business applications increases both data storage requirements and complexity. Also, in the same ESG research report, more than one in four surveyed enterprises reported that managing data growth was an important IT priority. This means organizations will have to contend with more data migrations and more sensitivity to data availability as storage and servers are consolidated into pools of IT resources. Users need the ability to provide servers and applications with high availability and data protection.

ESG Lab validated that the fully redundant architecture of the Pure Storage FlashArray//M is highly available and easily serviceable. ESG Lab was particularly impressed with the ability of the system to service a demanding mixed workload for a 5,000-user business through multiple major system failure simulations with minimal impact to I/O and sub-millisecond response times.

ESG Lab Validation Highlights

  • ESG Lab leveraged a single Pure Storage FlashArray//M50 and deployed five VMware virtualized, mission-critical applications: VMware Horizon (VDI), Microsoft Exchange Server (email), Microsoft SQL Server (OLTP), Microsoft SQL Server (data warehouse), and Oracle (OLTP).
  • ESG Lab observed a data reduction ratio of 6:1, or more than 83%.
  • The performance of each application workload was monitored as it was started and ramped up to reach a steady state.
  • The performance of the VDI workload, which is considered to be a difficult workload to consolidate with other mission-critical application workloads due to its “burstiness” and high levels of write activity, was unhindered as the other four applications ran simultaneously on the same array.
  • Response times remained manageably low throughout all phases of testing, reaching an average level of .57 ms during peak workload execution.
  • Six different failures were simulated while all workloads were running, and aside from minor, transient effects, performance remained high and sustainable. Response times were remarkably consistent as well, exceeding 1ms on only two occasions, when the primary controller was rebooted and when an NVRAM module was pulled.

Issues to Consider

    • The test results presented in this report are based on applications and benchmarks deployed in a controlled environment with industry-standard testing tools. Due to the many variables in each production data center environment, capacity planning and testing in your own environment are recommended.
    • Default server BIOS, operating system, and application settings were used during ESG Lab testing. While tuning of application workloads is common, this testing found that no tuning was necessary to successfully consolidate tier-1 workloads. ESG Lab is confident that the results presented in this report meet the objective of demonstrating the achievable performance levels of a highly virtualized, mixed workload environment.
    • The modular FlashArray//M is a key component in Pure’s Evergreen Storage ownership model, a model designed for data-in-place generational upgrades. The goal of Evergreen is to eliminate forklift upgrades with infrastructure that expands the useful life of storage from a few years to a decade or more. Evergreen expands Pure’s Forever Flash program: Controller upgrades are included in ongoing maintenance and performed every three years; all software upgrades to new versions are included; and a trade-in credit is provided for existing controllers when purchasing additional capacity that necessitates a controller upgrade.
    • Despite the value demonstrated in this report, some may still question Pure’s decision to design custom storage hardware with the FlashArray//M. Many in the storage community are trending in the opposite direction, leveraging commodity hardware based on the apparent industry perception that commodity hardware equates to lower costs. While Pure can demonstrate cost savings with its data reduction technology, the real story is long-term value and easing the pain of future upgrades, which can sometimes be more of a challenge for IT organizations to digest. Still, generational upgrades are a perennial pain point. Ultimately, a portion of Pure’s success with FlashArray//M will be tied to how well organizations are able to internalize the long-term value story.

The Bigger Truth

ESG research reveals that increased use of server and desktop virtualization technologies, along with data growth management, are frequently cited important IT priorities. The amount and variety of data that businesses need to store is growing rapidly, driving growth in overall storage use and costs. Another key objective for any IT administrator is providing sufficient performance to give business users the best possible experience. This is especially important for virtual desktop deployments and mission-critical applications, which are becoming increasingly virtualized.

Advancements in server and network resources occur on a regular cadence, but as more users and workloads are added to the infrastructure and leverage a shared pool of underlying storage, I/O bottlenecks can quickly become a concern. This is due in part to the increase in I/O traffic, and in part to the randomness of the I/O. As a result, IT is feeling more pressure to provide advanced solutions that can seamlessly scale capacity and performance and support continuous availability.

Pure Storage FlashArray//M is designed not just to offer value, but also to drive a more strategic solid-state discussion. The FlashArray//M is designed with the goal of “non-disruptive everything.” This, combined with the Evergreen Storage model, enables Pure to extend the value proposition of its storage architecture further into the future, allowing organizations to look past simple price-per-capacity or feature comparisons to include many of the other total cost of ownership benefits of solid-state.

ESG Lab testing validated FlashArray//M’s ability to consolidate the most challenging business- and mission-critical workloads, including desktop virtualization, onto a single, high-performance, highly available platform. The environment ESG Lab tested consolidated a realistic business environment with 27.6 TB of live data onto a single FlashArray//M50 array, supporting 5,000 seats of Exchange users, 1,500 VMware Horizon virtual desktops, and hundreds of Oracle and SQL server users, while consuming only 4.9 TB thanks to Pure’s data reduction technologies. The consolidated environment serviced all of these workloads with sub-millisecond response times and provided continuous access through multiple simulated failures. It’s important to note that the performance described in this report was accomplished with inline data reduction, encryption at rest, and snapshots enabled and in use. In addition, Pure1 provided simple, intuitive, cloud-based management and monitoring of the system, accessible from anywhere.

Pure has made the claim that if all tier-1 storage arrays sold over the past four years were replaced with FlashArray//M hardware, the resulting space and power savings would equate to 800 data centers and 3.86 Megawatts, roughly equivalent to two nuclear power plants. While claims like these are always based on multiple, layered assumptions, they do help Pure put the value of its hardware into perspective. And while smaller and midsized organizations may see less of a space and power efficiency benefit overall, there is still a benefit to be had. Organizations looking to build larger IT infrastructures will likely find the opportunity to reduce power and footprint at this level quite compelling. Consolidation drives economics in the data center, and Pure’s data reduction technology also helps enable this.

ESG Lab is pleased to validate that the Pure Storage FlashArray//M delivers consistently high performance at extremely low response times and is clearly well suited to support a mix of demanding real-world business applications running in a performance-critical highly virtualized infrastructure. Comprehensive data management software, HA-DR functionality, and capacity efficiency technologies, all included in the base price, round out the offering. Organizations that have been considering the potential value of consolidating business- and mission-critical applications and users but that have had concerns about performance and availability would be well served to take a closer look at Pure Storage FlashArray//M.

1. Source: ESG Research Report, 2017 IT Spending Intentions Survey, March 2017.
2. FlashStack Virtual Server Infrastructure for VMware vSphere. More details on FlashStack and the FlashStack architecture can be found at
3. Additional information about the test bed can be found in the Appendix.
4. Source: ESG Research Report, 2017 IT Spending Intentions Survey, March 2017.
This ESG Lab Report was commissioned by Pure Storage and is distributed under license from ESG.

ESG Lab Reports

The goal of ESG Lab reports is to educate IT professionals about data center technology products for companies of all types and sizes. ESG Lab reports are not meant to replace the evaluation process that should be conducted before making purchasing decisions, but rather to provide insight into these emerging technologies. Our objective is to go over some of the more valuable feature/functions of products, show how they can be used to solve real customer problems and identify any areas needing improvement. ESG Lab's expert third-party perspective is based on our own hands-on testing as well as on interviews with customers who use these products in production environments.

Topics: Storage