Random Short Take #56

Welcome to Random Short Take #56. Only three players have worn 56 in the NBA. I may need to come up with a new bit of trivia. Let’s get random.

  • Are we nearing the end of blade servers? I’d hoped the answer was yes, but it’s not that simple, sadly. It’s not that I hate them, exactly. I bought blade servers from Dell when they first sold them. But they can present challenges.
  • 22dot6 emerged from stealth mode recently. I had the opportunity to talk to them and I’ll post something soon about that. In the meantime, this post from Mellor covers it pretty well.
  • It may be a Northern Hemisphere reference that I don’t quite understand, but Retrospect is running a “Dads and Grads” promotion offering 90 days of free backup subscriptions. Worth checking out if you don’t have something in place to protect your desktop.
  • Running VMware Cloud Foundation and want to stretch your vSAN cluster across two sites? Tony has you covered.
  • The site name in VMware Cloud Director can look a bit ugly. Steve O gives you the skinny on how to change it.
  • Pure//Accelerate happened recently / is still happening, and there was a bit of news from the event, including the new and improved Pure1 Digital Experience. As a former Pure1 user I can say this was a big part of the reason why I liked using Pure Storage.
  • Speaking of press releases, this one from PDI and its investment intentions caught my eye. It’s always good to see companies willing to spend a bit of cash to make progress.
  • I stumbled across Oxide on Twitter and fell for the aesthetic and design principles. Then I read some of the articles on the blog and got even more interested. Worth checking out. And I’ll be keen to see just how it goes for the company.

*Bonus Round*

I was recently on the Restore it All podcast with W. Curtis Preston and Prasanna Malaiyandi. It was a lot of fun as always, despite the fact that we talked about something that’s a pretty scary subject (data (centre) loss). No, I’m not a DC manager in real life, but I do have responsibility for what goes into our DC so I sort of am. Don’t forget there’s a discount code for the book in the podcast too.

Pure Storage Announces FlashBlade, FlashArray//m10 and FlashStack CI Enhancements

Another Pure Storage product announcement means a mouthful for my blog post title. I sometimes struggle to get across the magic of vendor product announcements, so if you want a really good insight into what is going on, check out Dave Henry’s post here. Pure Storage are currently running their Pure//Accelerate event and are making three key announcements today:

  • FlashBlade;
  • FlashArray//m10; and
  • FlashStack CI enhancements.

 

FlashBlade

Pure Storage have done a decent job working with structured storage offerings (think traditional block, databases, and VM workloads). FlashBlade, however, is a file, object, and container-based solution. As always, Pure Storage have come through with what can only be described as a pretty snazzy hardware design.

FlashBlade_Box

So what is it then? Basically, it’s 4RU of flash storage, scale-out goodness. To wit:

  • 8TB or 52TB scale-out blades
  • 15 blades per chassis, offering “elastic” scale at >$1 useable per GB
  • 100% flash, 0% SSD
  • Low-latency, software-defined (isn’t everything?) 40GbE interconnect
  • Scale-out storage software

Note that at General Availability (GA), scalability is limited to one chassis, then going to 2, 3, etc via a fairly aggressive roadmap. So what’s in a FlashBlade?

FlashBlade_Internal

The blade uses an Intel Xeon-based system on a chip, with 8 full CPUs, integrated NV-RAM, 1 FPGA, 2 x ARM cores and PCIe connectivity amongst other things. As far as the software side of things goes, there are a few things to note:

  • Only NFS v3 will be supported at GA, with plans for SMB and HDFS;
  • The S3 object support will offer create, read, update, and delete functionality, with further functionality being added post-GA;
  • Data services include data reduction and encryption, with snapshots and replication on the to do list;
  • They use N+2 erasure coding (so you can lose 2 nodes); and
  • They use LDPC error correction.

Pure Storage are claiming 1.6PBs effective storage in 4RU (assuming 3:1 data reduction), which, as scalability improves, will make for some nicely dense solutions on a per rack basis, with very reasonable power usage at 1.3KW /PB.

When can you buy one? Directed availability is in the second half of 2016, with GA shortly thereafter.

 

FlashArray//m10

PureStorage_FlashArray_Boxshot

I wrote about the “//m” series of FlashArrays when they were announced last year. They’re pretty cool. Pure Storage has now announced the //m10, a smaller version of the previously released models. The //m10 has the following features:

  • 12.5TB – 25TB of effective* capacity (5 or 10TB RAW) – *note that effective capacity assumes a 5:1 average data reduction;
  • All software is included;
  • Evergreen Storage support;
  • 1 year of Pure1 support; and
  • It’s fully upgradeable to any //m series FlashArray.

Pure Storage have told me these are starting at < US $50K, with GA in Q2 2016.

 

FlashStack CI

Pure Storage announced FlashStack a little while ago (you can grab the datasheet from here).

PureStorage_FlashStack

Enhancements to the current CI platform include SAP Lumira and Microsoft Exchange solutions. Pure Storage are now positioning the FlashStack Mini solution (with the //m10) for around US $100K, which might be appealing given the right circumstances. As always, have a chat to your local Puritan (!) about what might work for you and what it might cost.

Pure_Cloud

Finally, Pure Storage spoke briefly to me about an all-flash hybrid cloud solution on built on Azure and leveraging Equinix or your local DC. they also have an AWS solution coming soon. The key thing of note here is that you’ll get your compute via the public cloud with storage that has all the features you need (primarily performance and security). It’s an interesting concept, and one I’m looking forward to digging into further.

 

Further Reading and Closing Thoughts

I was enthusiastic about Pure Storage when I had a chance to meet with them at SFD6 and SFD8. They’re saying a lot of the right things and have branched out a fair bit with this latest announcement. Previous feedback I’d had from people I’d talked to in the marketplace was that Pure Storage had a pretty solid offering with their FlashArray (particularly the //m), but what else did they have up their sleeve? Well, now we know, and I think if Pure Storage can execute on a lot of what’s being positioned as post-GA functionality then they’ll have a pretty serious offering. If nothing else, it’s worth having a chat to your local Puritan to hear more.

[Update]

Enrico has a nice post here, and Alex has some good thoughts here and here. You can read the Enrico’s El Reg wrap-up here.

Pure Storage Announces FlashArray//m, Evergreen Storage and Pure1

That’s one of the wordier titles I’ve used for a blog post in recent times, but I think it captures the essence of Pure Storage‘s recent announcements. Firstly, I’m notoriously poor at covering product announcements, so if you want a really good insight into what is going on, check out Dave Henry’s post here. There were three key announcements made today:

  • FlashArray//m;
  • Evergreen Storage; and
  • Pure1 Cloud-Based Management and Support.

 

FlashArray//m

Besides having some slightly weird spelling, the FlashArray//m (mini because it fits in 3RU and modular because, well, you can swap modules in it) is Pure’s next-generation storage appliance. Here’s a picture.

Pure_hardware1

There are three models, the //m20, //m50, and //m70. Each of these has various capabilities. I’ve included an overview from the datasheet, but note that this is subject to change before GA of the tin.

Pure_hardware2

The key takeaway for me is that, after some time using other people’s designs, this is Pure’s crack at using their own hardware design, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the expected life of the gear.

 

Evergreen Storage

Pure_evergreen

In the olden days, when I was a storage customer, I would have been pretty excited about a program like Evergreen Storage. Far too often I found myself purchasing storage only to have the latest version released a month later, sometimes before the previous generation had hit the loading dock. I was rarely given a heads up from the vendor that something new was coming, and often had the feeling I was just using up their old stock. Pure don’t want you to have that feeling with them. Instead, for as long as the array is under maintenance, Pure will help customers upgrade the controllers, storage, and software in a non-disruptive fashion. The impression I got was that these arrays would keep on keeping on for around 7 – 10 years, with the modular design enabling easy upgrades of key technologies as well as capacity.

 

Pure1 Cloud-Based Management and Support

I’ve never been a Pure Storage customer, so I can’t comment as to how easy or difficult it currently is to get support. Nonetheless, I imagine the Pure1 announcement might be a bit exciting for the average punter slogging through storage ops. Basically, Pure1 gets you in touch with improved analytics and management of your storage infrastructure, all of which can be performed via a web browser. And, if you’re so inclined, you can turn on a call home feature and have Pure collect info from your arrays every 30 seconds. This provides both the customer and Pure with a wealth of information to make decisions about performance, resilience and upgrades. You can get the datasheet here.

 

Final Thoughts

I like Pure Storage. I was lucky enough to visit them during Storage Field Day 6 and was impressed by their clarity of vision and different approach to flash storage architecture. I like the look of the new hardware, although the proof will be in field performance. The Evergreen Storage announcement is fantastic from the customer’s perspective, although I’ll be interested to see just how long they can keep something like that going.