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Pure Storage unveils an all-flash hybrid-storage killer

News Analysis
Aug 27, 20204 mins
Data CenterEnterprise Storage

With massively increased capacity, the FlashArray//C storage platform from Pure Storage eliminates the need for hard-disk storage, the company claims.

All-flash storage arrays are fairly common in the most mission-critical of environments, where response time is of the essence. But if you move a step down to where archival activity takes place, there are still plenty of hard-disk/flash hybrid storage arrays.

That’s because hard-disk drives have retained one advantage over flash: capacity. HDDs from Seagate and Western Digital are pushing into the 20TB range for a whole lot less than a comparable flash drive.

But Pure Storage thinks the second generation of its FlashArray//C storage platform will be a hybrid flash/disk storage killer because it has the capacity to match a hybrid array with an all-flash storage setup. The pitch is that with FlashArray//C’s capacity, enterprises can do away with hard-drive-based storage, which draws much more power than an SSD and generates far more heat.

The FlashArray//C is intended for tier 2 workloads where hard disks could be used, such as backup and data protection, test/dev environments, and workload consolidation. The Flash Array//C is positioned under the FlashArray//X, which is designed for tier 1 business-critical workloads and uses faster NAND chips.

The FlashArray//C uses what Pure Storage calls an “enterprise-grade all-QLC flash array” that is 30% cheaper than similarly sized hybrid storage arrays on the market today. It comes with 24.7TB QLC DirectFlash modules now, with 49TB coming soon, the latter being the largest module in the industry up to now.

The 24.7TB module is five times the capacity of the first generation FlashArray//C. Maximum raw capacity quadruples from 366TB to 1.8PB in 9RU, with effective capacity after data deduplication increasing fourfold, from 1.3PB to 5.2PB.

“With the second generation of FlashArray//C, we’re proud to once again demonstrate our commitment to innovation and make the benefits of flash more accessible for a broader range of use cases at an economic advantage that is sure to make hybrid storage a thing of the past,” said Scott Baker, vice president of product marketing for FlashArray at Pure Storage, in a statement.

One of the concerns around QLS flash memory is that it has a shorter lifespan than TLS memory due to more frequent writes. The Purity OS software that comes with the array manages quality of service and wear-levelling to ensure consistent performance and endurance. Purity has policy-driven replication, snapshots, and migration between Pure arrays and public clouds.

Customers who own both FlashArray//C and FlashArray/X can synchronize data storage, with data moved between the FlashArray//X used for performance-intensive workloads and FlashArray//C for capacity-oriented workloads. Common data services across the FlashArray platform make it fast and easy to access, manage, and secure data across multiple workloads, geographies, and clouds.

And Pure is taking part in the on-demand trend with Pure-as-a-Service, where customers’ use is metered and they pay for what they use. (Although really, when is a storage array not in use?)

The second generation of FlashArray//C is available today from Pure and resellers.

Helping hunt for the COVID-19 cure

Pure recently did a good deed in the hunt for a cure for the COVID-19 virus. Folding@Home is a distributed computing project run by the chemistry department at Washington University in St. Louis. It has a client app that you install on your computer to run simulations of chemical compounds when you are not using the computer, to see which most effectively bond with the COVID-19 virus and thus block replication.

Folding@Home has been around for 20 years and had been chugging along with a modest user base until the COVID-19 pandemic sparked interest. I wrote an article about how it was suddenly swamped with millions of users wanting to help the search, so much so that its hard-disk storage servers were overwhelmed just trying to write the results to disk.

Perhaps Pure read my story, but whatever the case, it donated a FlashBlade system to the F@H project, which enabled them to keep up with all the results they were receiving from several million contributors.

Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.