Disclaimer: I recently attended Pure//Accelerate 2019. My flights, accommodation, and conference pass were paid for by Pure Storage. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated by Pure Storage for my time at the event. Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.
Pure Storage announced two additions to its portfolio of products today: FlashArray//C and DirectMemory Cache. I had the opportunity to hear about these two products at the Storage Field Day Exclusive event at Pure//Accelerate 2019 and thought I’d share some thoughts here.
DirectMemory Cache is a high-speed caching system that reduces read latency for high-locality, performance-critical applications.
- High speed: based on Intel Optane SCM drives
- Caching system: repeated accesses to “hot data” are sped up automatically – no tiering = no configuration
- Read latency: only read performance is affected – no changes to latency
- High-locality: only workloads that reuse often a dates that fits in the cache will benefit
- Performance-Critical: high-throughput latency sensitive workloads
According to Pure, “DirectMemory Cache is the functionality within Purity that provides direct access to data and accelerates performance critical applications”. Note that this is only for read data, write caching is still done via DRAM.
How Can This Help?
Pure has used Pure1 Meta analysis to arrive at the following figures:
- 80% of arrays can achieve 20% lower latency
- 40% of arrays can achieve 30-50% lower latency (up to 2x boost)
So there’s some real potential to improve existing workloads via the use of this read cache.
Pure Storage DirectMemory Modules plug directly into FlashArray//X70 and //X90, are inserted into the chassis, and are available in the following configurations:
- 3TB (4x750GB) DirectMemory Modules
- 6TB (8x750GB) DirectMemory Modules
Top of Rack Architecture
Pure are positioning the “top of rack” architecture as a way to compete some of the architectures that have jammed a bunch of flash in DAS or in compute to gain increased performance. The idea is that you can:
- Eliminate data locality;
- Bring storage and compute closer;
- Provide storage services that are not possible with DAS;
- Bring the efficiency of FlashArray to traditional DAS applications; and
- Offload storage and networking load from application CPUs.
Typical challenges in Tier 2
Things can be tough in the tier 2 storage world. Pure outlined some of the challenges they were seeking to address by delivering a capacity optimised product.
- Complexity / management
- Different platforms and APIs
- Interoperability challenges
- Variable app performance
- Anchored by legacy disk
- Undersized / underperforming
Not enterprise class
- <99.9999% resiliency
- Disruptive upgrades
- Not evergreen
The C Stands For Capacity Optimised All-Flash Array
Flash performance at disk economics
- QLC architecture enables tier 2 applications to benefit from the performance of all-flash – predictable 2-4ms latency, 5.2PB (effective) in 9U delivers 10x consolidation for racks and racks of disk.
Optimised end-to-end for QLC Flash
- Deep integration from software to QLC NAND solves QLC wear concerns and delivers market-leading economics. Includes the same evergreen maintenance and wear replacement as every FlashArray
“No Compromise” enterprise experience
- Built for the same 99.9999%+ availability, Pure1 cloud management, API automation, and AI-driven predictive support of every FlashArray
Flash for every data workflow
- Policy driven replication, snapshots, and migration between arrays and clouds – now use Flash for application tiering, DR, Test / Dev, Backup, and retention
Configuration options include:
- 366TB RAW – 1.3PB effective
- 878TB RAW – 3.2PB effective
- 1.39PB RAW – 5.2PB effective
- Policy based VM tiering between //X and //C
- Multi-cloud data protection and DR – on-premises and multi-site
- Multi-cloud test / dev – workload consolidation
*File support (NFS / SMB) coming in 2020 (across the entire FlashArray family, not just //C)
I’m a fan of companies that expand their portfolio based on customer requests. It’s a good way to make more money, and sometimes it’s simplest to give the people what they want. The market has been in Pure’s ear for some time about delivering some kind of capacity storage solution. I think it was simply a matter of time before the economics and the technology intersected at a point where it made sense for it to happen. If you’re an existing Pure customer, this is a good opportunity to deploy Pure across all of your tiers of storage, and you get the benefit of Pure1 keeping an eye on everything, and your “slow” arrays will still be relatively performance-focused thanks to NVMe throughout the box. Good times in IT isn’t just about speeds and feeds though, so I think this announcement is more important in terms of simplifying the story for existing Pure customers that may be using other vendors to deliver Tier 2 capabilities.
I’m also pretty excited about DirectMemory Cache, if only because it’s clear that Pure has done its homework (i.e. they’ve run the numbers on Pure1 Meta) and realised that they could improve the performance of existing arrays via a reasonably elegant solution. A lot of the cool kids do DAS, because that’s what they’ve been told will yield great performance. And that’s mostly true, but DAS can be a real pain in the rear when you want to move workloads around, or consolidate performance, or do useful things like data services (e.g. replication). Centralised storage arrays have been doing this stuff for years, and it’s about time they were also able to deliver the performance required in order for those companies not to have to compromise.