Pure//Accelerate 2019 – After 10 Years, Still a lot of Questions


Pure//Accelerate 2019 finished last week. I hope you had a great time in Austin and had a chance to enjoy downtown riding on the Dell Technologies sponsored pedicabs. This event marked the 10th Anniversary of Pure Storage, and there was a lot of hype and anticipation created by Pure around “big” product innovation announcements. Well, I would hardly consider the announcements made as “earth shattering”–they actually left me with even more questions to ask Pure.

Let’s take a look at a few key takeaways from the event, as well as several announcements made during the conference.

New SLOWER FlashArray//C Optimized for QLC flash…but shipping with TLC first.

Clearly Pure is trying to extend the appeal of their FlashArray//X line by adding a new lower-end cost-conscious version announced as the FlashArray//C, which is targeted at addressing the Tier 2 workload use cases.

FlashArray//X with SCM as Read-Only Cache…but not as persistent storage

Pure announced optional support for Intel’s Optane SCM (Storage Class Memory) drives in their FlashArray//X, models //X70 and //X90 only, but only as a read-only cache extension and not as a persistent storage tier. Also, something different with Pure’s approach is that it requires the customer to swap out persistent storage capacity to add DirectMemory modules.

Questions – Why would Pure go through the effort of supporting the Intel Optane SCM drives and then not use them for persistent storage? Leveraging them as read-only cache, at the expense of persistent storage capacity, will bring a slight performance benefit to read-intensive applications, likely at a cost premium, but why not use them for actual persistent storage? (Hint: we believe this is related to the reason they introduced the FlashArray//C, with QLC flash, as separate array – NO Persistent STORAGE TIERING in FlashArray. If they had mixed SCM and NVMe flash modules together, as one big pool without tiering, the SCM would have been severely bottlenecked by the slower NVMe flash.)

Quick commercial for Dell EMC storage – We have been doing storage tiering for years across all our arrays! A recent example, shows how PowerMax can now mix SCM with NVMe AND provide intelligent and automated storage tiering to get the most out your storage investments.

FlashBlade Gets Bigger…but still does not support CIFS/SMB 3.0

Pure announced only one substantial new feature for its FlashBlade product – it can now scale to 150 blades instead of only 75.

Question – How does this help address some glaring gaps like the lack of support for CIFS/SMB 3.0 protocol? Moreover, if NAS capabilities are added to the FlashArray next year, as mentioned at Accelerate leveraging Compuverde, does this mean the end of FlashBlade?

Re-branding of ES2

Pure also announced their intent to offer “everything-as-a-service”, a similar promise made by other vendors in the market. In my opinion this announcement adds little differentiation to their portfolio. Pure talked about a unified contract for on-prem and cloud, but little details were available.

Question – Will cloud and on-prem subscriptions cost the same? It is unclear how this will look in practice so we will see.

Cloud Block Store for AWS is GA…Finally!

At last, Pure has launched a Cloud based offering, joining the ranks of storage vendors that already had options to offer replication and DR to the cloud, as well as software defined storage array running on AWS.

Question – How will Cloud Block Store make it easy for customer to migrate workloads to and from the cloud? How expensive will it be for a customer to subscribe to Cloud Block Store? Will they get two bills – from Pure and from AWS? Moving applications to the public cloud can be really expensive depending on the service, I encourage customers to look at pricing and TCO models very carefully.

What about FlashStack and AIRI….and still no HCI?

Not much to say with regards to FlashStack and AIRI and no announcements around HCI, which is quite interesting. How can a Storage company call themselves innovators when they don’t participate a segment that is growing at double digits and enables customers to have “cloud-like” experiences on premises? Your guess is as good as mine.

We will have more opportunities to connect in the future and will continue to discuss further developments on these and any new announcements. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about our portfolio and how we compete vs. Pure please check out this link.

Talk to you soon!

About the Author: Mark Sanders

Mark Sanders is Vice President, Global Presales, Data Protection at Dell Technologies. He is a 13 year Dell Technologies veteran, who started his career in inside sales and has held multiple sales, strategy and management positions within Dell Technologies. Mark and his team focus on delivering a world-class presales experience to customers, partners, and fellow Dell Tech employees when using or evaluating our Data Protection Solutions.