IT people in the know already realize that solid-state NAND flash-based storage is in the process of displacing hard-disk drives as the standard in the enterprise data storage industry. This changeover is gaining momentum despite the fact that NAND flash generally has represented a higher up-front cost and a disruption in data center business as usual.
But enterprises and their chief financial officers are starting to look past those short-term problems and, instead, are gazing at a bigger picture. This is because NAND flash drives have proven to be both performance- and endurance-worthy in production situations—giving them a better-than-competitive total cost of ownership over time versus mechanical hard drives.
The flash-based storage market, which Toshiba founded in 1987 and which started getting serious traction in the mid-1990s, became an enterprise reality in late 2008, when EMC started providing SSDs as an option in its storage arrays. Since then, the market, with media supplied mostly by Samsung, Toshiba and Micron, has not looked back.
Since then, all the major storage players, including EMC, NetApp, Dell, Fujitsu, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, SanDisk, Seagate and others, have joined smart new-gen companies such as Kaminario, Fusion-io, Nimble, Nimbus, Skyera, Pure Storage, Violin Memory, Tintri and others to try and quell the high demand. Demand has been increasing for more than three years.
Storage Market Evolving Quickly
Now these newer companies are continuing to evolve their wares, putting new market pressures on the more-established vendors.
All-flash storage maker Pure Storage is one of those hot young newcomers. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company last month announced that it has raised another $225 million in a late-stage funding round, valuing the company at about $3 billion. Thus, CEO Scott Dietzen said, Pure probably won't be going public any time soon.
Meanwhile, it continues to crank out new products. Now marketing its fourth-generation of products, Pure Storage said May 15 that is has expanded its flagship FA-400 Series all-flash storage package with both new entry-level and high-capacity FlashArrays. It also has released version 4.0 of its Purity Operating Environment.
The new Purity software features FlashRecover, a set of fully integrated, space-efficient replication, snapshot and policy management services that offer full-scale protection against disaster and data loss—both locally and globally. This is something not previously offered in all-flash storage systems.
"We've reached a tipping point now in which all-flash storage is quite able to replace Tier 1 disk storage," Pure Storage Products Vice President Matt Kixmoeller told eWEEK. "There are three key trends here: First, customers, of course, continue to want systems that are bigger and bigger, so they can consolidate more and more storage on them; No. 2 is the opposite, with a different set of customers asking for smaller [flash] systems for remote-office and single application-type deployments. Third is all-around replication; none of the previous all-flash systems have had a viable disaster recovery system built in.
"Those issues are largely what we have closed in our new release."
Pure Storage's FA-405 (entry-level) and FA-450 (high-end) flash arrays are expandable and upgradable, so users can start with the configuration of their choice and non-disruptively extend performance and capacity as their application requirements evolve.
Pricing for Pure Storage FlashArrays is surprisingly competitive with HDDs. Total cost can be as low as $3 to $4 per usable gigabyte, depending upon a customer's desired configuration, Kixmoeller said.
Key features include:
--FlashArray 405: Holds up to 40TB of usable space in a 1U controller form factor, making it optimal for top-of-rack and entry-level configurations. Runs on the same Purity 4.0 software as its higher-capacity counterparts. Aimed at single-application starter deployments, such as VDI pilots or single database acceleration, and can be upgraded non-disruptively to a FA-420 or FA-450 system.
--FlashArray 450: Designed for replacing racks and racks of Tier 1 disk storage for consolidated, virtualized workloads. Holds up to 250TB of usable space, in a 2U controller footprint. Powered by two 2.7GHz 12-core Intel processors and 512GB RAM per controller. Introduces support for 16G-bps Fibre Channel connectivity.
--Purity 4.0 Software: Fourth-generation release of the Purity Operating Environment offers comprehensive disaster recovery, data protection and security features. Newly enhanced with FlashRecover, a native and fully integrated replication, snapshot and policy management service.
Key new features of the Purity 4.0 include:
--FlashRecover replication and snapshots for comprehensive data protection;
--FlashRecover protection policies for end-to-end protection policy management; and
--FlashProtect: expanded information security for mission-critical environments.
Purity 4.0's FlashProtect combines new rapid data locking and dark site support services with existing always-on data-at-rest 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) capability and high availability (HA) to deliver military-grade data security and compliance.
Availability and Pricing
The FA-405 and FA-450 are available now through Pure Storage's global channel partner network; Purity 4.0 will ship in June 2014. For more information, go here.