Pure Storage – A Few Thoughts on Pure as-a-Service

I caught up with Matt Oostveen from Pure Storage in August to talk about Pure as-a-Service. It’s been a while since any announcements were made, but I’ve been meaning to write up a few notes on the offering and what I thought of it. So here we are.


What Is It?

Oostveen describes Pure Storage as a “software company that sells storage arrays”. The focus at Pure has always been on giving the customer an exceptional experience, which invariably means controlling the stack from end-to-end. To that end, Pure as-a-Service could be described more as a feat of financial, rather than technical, engineering. You’re “billed on actual consumption, with minimum commitments starting at 50 TiB”. Also of note is the burst capability, allowing a level of comfort in understanding both the floor and the ceiling of the consumption levels you may decide to consume. You can choose what kind of storage you want – block, file, or object. You also get access to orchestration tools to manage everything. You also get access to Evergreen Storage, so your hardware stays up to date, and it’s available in four easy to understand tiers of storage.


Why Is It?

In this instance, I think the what isn’t as interesting as the why. Oostveen and I spoke about the need for a true utility model to enable companies to deliver on the promise of digital transformation. He noted that many of the big transactions that were occurring were CFO to CFO engagements, rather than the CTO deciding on the path forward for applications and infrastructure. In short, price is always a driver, and simplicity is also very important. Pure has worked to ensure that the offering delivers on both of those fronts.



IT is complicated nowadays. You’re dealing with cloud, SaaS, micro-SaaS, distributed, and personalised IT. You’re invariably trying to accommodate the role of data in your organisation, and you’re no doubt facing challenges with getting applications running not just in your core, but also in the cloud and the edge. We talk a lot about how infrastructure can be used to solve a number of the challenges facing organisations, but I have no doubt that if most business leaders never had to deal with infrastructure and the associated challenges it presents they’d be over the moon. Offerings like Pure as-a-Service go some of the way to elevating that conversation from speeds and feeds to something more aligned with business outcomes. It strikes me that these kinds of offerings will have great appeal to both the folks in charge of finance inside big enterprises and the potentially the technical folk trying to keep the lights on whilst a budget decrease gets lobbed at them every year.

I’ve written about Pure enthusiastically in the past because I think the company has a great grasp of some of the challenges that many organisations are facing nowadays. I think that the expansion into other parts of the cloud ecosystem, combined with a willingness to offer flexible consumption models for solutions that were traditionally offered as lease or buy is great. But I don’t think this makes sense without everything that Pure has done previously as a company, from the focus on getting the most out of All-Flash hardware, to a relentless drive for customer satisfaction, to the willingness to take a chance on solutions that are a little outside the traditional purview of a storage array company.

As I’ve said many times before, IT can be hard. There are a lot of things that you need to consider when evaluating the most suitable platform for your applications. Pure Storage isn’t the only game in town, but in terms of storage vendors offering flexible and powerful storage solutions across a variety of topologies, it seems to be a pretty compelling one, and definitely worth checking out.

Pure Storage – Pure1 Makes Life Easy

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 22.  Some expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way 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 recently presented at Storage Field Day 22. You can see videos of the presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.


What You Need

If you’ve spent any time working with storage infrastructure, you’ll know that it can be a pain to manage and operate in an efficient manner. Pure1 has always been a great tool to manage your Pure Storage fleet. But Pure has taken that idea of collecting and analysing a whole bunch of telemetry data and taken it even further. So what is it you need?

Management and Observation

  • Setup needs to be easy to reduce risk and accelerate delivery
  • Alerting needs to be predictive to prevent downtime
  • Management has to be done anywhere to be responsive

Planning and Upgrades

  • Determining when to buy requires forecasting to manage costs
  • Workload optimisations should be intuitive to help keep users happy
  • Non-disruptive upgrades are critical to prevent disruptions

Purchasing and Scaling

  • Resources should be available as a service for on-demand scaling.
  • Data service purchasing should be self-service for speed and simplicity
  • Hybrid cloud should be available from one vendor, in one place


Pure1 Has It

Sounds great, so how do you get that with Pure1? Pure breaks it down into three key areas:

  • Optimise
  • Recommend
  • Empower


Reduce the time you spend on management and take the guesswork out of support. With aggregated fleet / group metrics, you get:

  • Capacity utilisation
  • Performance
  • Data reduction savings
  • Alerts and support cases

[image courtesy of Pure Storage]


Every organisation wants to improve the speed and accuracy of resource planning while enhancing user experience. Pure1 provides the ability to use “What-If” modelling to stay ahead of demands.

  • Select application to be added
  • Provide sizing details
  • Get recommendations based on Pure best practices and AI analysis of our telemetry databases

[image courtesy of Pure Storage]

The process is alarmingly simple:

  • Pick a Workload Type – Choose a preset application type from a list of the most deployed enterprise applications, including SAP HANA, Microsoft SQL, and more.
  • Set Application Parameter – Define size of the deployment. Attributes are auto-populated based on Pure1 analytics across its global database. Adjust as needed for your environment.
  • Simulate Deployment – Identify where you want to deploy the application data. Pure1 analyses the impact on performance and capacity.


Build your hybrid-cloud infrastructure your way and on demand without the headaches of legacy purchasing. Pure has a great story to tell when it comes to Pure as-a-Service and OpEx acquisition models.


Thoughts and Further Reading

In a previous job, I was a Pure1 user and found the overall experience to be tremendous. Much has changed with Pure1 since I first installed it on my phone, and it’s my opinion that the integration and usefulness of the service have both increased exponentially. The folks at Pure have always understood that it’s not enough to deliver high-performance storage solutions built on All-Flash. This is considered table-stakes nowadays. Instead, Pure has done a great job of focussing on the management and operation of these high-performance storage solutions to ensure that users get what they need from the system. I sound like a broken record, I’m sure, but it’s this relentless focus on the customer experience that I think sets Pure apart from many of its competitors.

Most of the tier 1 storage vendors have had a chop at delivering management and operations systems that make extensive use of field telemetry data and support knowledge to deliver proactive support for customers. Everyone is talking about how they use advanced analytics, AI / ML, and so on to deliver a great support experience. But I think it’s the other parts of the equation that really brings it together nicely for Pure: the “evergreen” hardware lifecycle options, the consumption flexibility, and the focus on constantly improving the day 2 operations experience that’s required when managing storage at scale in the enterprise. Add to that the willingness to embrace hybrid cloud technologies, and the expanding product portfolio, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for Pure. Finally, shout out to Stan Yanitskiy for jumping in at the last minute to present when his colleague had a comms issue – I think the video shows that he handled it like a real pro.

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.



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.


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?


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.




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).


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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


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.