Tuesday, 15 March 2016 07:34

Pure Storage goes scale-out with FlashBlade

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Pure Storage is taking aim at the unstructured data and big data markets with a new model designed to take on and beat legacy scale-out architectures.

All-flash arrays have mostly been used for structured data storage, Pure Storage vice president of products Matt Kixmoeller told iTWire. Storage for big (often unstructured) data applications has largely been left to older storage array architectures that may have been retrofitted with flash storage.

But Pure Storage has identified a market for modern, scale-out, all-flash storage for scientific and engineering applications, Internet of Things analytics, and cloud-native applications. Such systems can involve tens of billions of files or objects, tens of petabytes of data, and tens of thousands of clients, users or containers.

So the company is introducing FlashBlade, an all-flash scale-out storage platform with blades providing 8 or 52TB of raw storage. Up to 1.6PB of effective capacity with 15GBps of throughput can be delivered from a single 4U chassis - that would require multiple racks of NetApp or EMC Isilon storage, Pure claimed.

Performance and capacity increase linearly as blades are added.

"We knew we really had to work on price," Kixmoeller told iTWire, and a FlashBlade system can cost less than US1 per gigabyte - "less expensive than most people pay for scale-out NAS today."

This was achieved in part through a custom hardware design using an Intel CPU, 40Gb Ethernet, MLC NAND flash chips (not SSDs), and Pure's Elasticity software that provides the core storage functions (including high availability, encryption, data reduction, and object storage) with scale-out capabilities and support for NFS and object storage protocols.

Other protocols are planned, but he said the company was taking a "wait and see" approach so it can be guided by users' requirements in this regard.

A single FlashBlade chassis consumes 1300W per petabyte, the same amount of power as a hairdryer, Kixmoeller said.

FlashBlade is managed from the same Pure1 software as used with Pure's other storage products.

Customers that have been given early access to FlashBlade have applied it in various areas.

A chip designer found overall throughput was improved by up to 50%, with chip simulations shortened by at least 20%. Kixmoeller pointed out this can mean a five-year development project can be reduced to four years, which is a very significant acceleration.

An automotive company also used FlashBlade in its product simulations, and found they ran four times faster and that the number of concurrent simulations could be increased threefold.

And a consumer web site was able to ingest new video content at the same time as other content was being processed or delivered.

Pure is now expanding this beta program, and expects FlashBlade will be generally available in the second half of 2016.

In related news, Pure announced the FlashArray//m10, the FlashStack Mini converged infrastructure based on the m10, new FlashStack configurations for SAP Lumira HANA or Microsoft Exchange, and support for connecting a FlashArray to Microsoft Azure.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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