Pure Storage unveils FlashBlade all-flash platform for petabyte-scale unstructured data

In addition to the FlashBlade, which becomes Pure’s new high end offering, the company also introduced the FlashArray//m10, a new entry level extension, to its FlashArray//m family, as well as several new FlashStack converged infrastructure solutions.

Pure FlashBlade

The Pure FlashBlade

Today, Pure Storage is making a series of announcements, which include an important new low-end array, the FlashArray//m10 that on most days would have pride of place among multiple announcements. The big news here though is FlashBlade, an all-flash scale-out system designed to handle petabyte-scale unstructured data, at a cost of less than $1 per usable GB.

“The FlashBlade is really the big news of the day because of its solving problems of unstructured data,” said Jason Nadeau, Director, Product and Vertical Marketing at Pure Storage. “That’s why it’s so important. We have played in the structured world with FlashArray, but FlashBlade lets us enter into the whole world of unstructured data, and scale out for it. The Big Data and fast data of tomorrow need a data platform that can scale to support. They need to be designed for cloud scale, omni-dimensional performance – fast – and they have to be simple. They need to achieve the big and fast they want without complexity and costs.”

FlashBlade does this with what Nadeau terms a true blade-based scale-out architecture.

“The architecture is built on the blade itself,” he said. That architecture is a scale-out object store accessible through both file, object protocols, and can adapt to new future protocols easily. “The 4U chassis can scale up to 1.6 PB of usable storage, and replaces racks and racks of NetApp or EMC Isilon storage. Everything is linear scale. Just add a blade.”

Nadeau said that Pure had to do four separate major technological achievements here.

“First, we had to produce a completely software-defined network fabric, built on a 40 GB network backbone,” he said. “Second, we had to design the elasticity software itself that runs on the blades.” That elasticity allows FlashBlade to increase capacity, IO and metadata performance, bandwidth, and client connectivity linearly as the blades are added to the system.”

“Third, we had to scale out the blade environment itself, and fourth we had to create an integrated NVRAM [Non-volatile random-access memory]built equivalent of our own SSDs, stripping out the complexity to make it as simple and dense and low-cost as possible. This is all done in our own software running on the blades.”

The result is a system designed to massively scale metadata as well as I/O.

“It’s not just about the I/O,” Nadeau said. “It’s that combination of fast metadata and fast I/O, and that is only possible with a purpose-built array. In addition, while NetApp does this with a federation of two-node clusters, this is an enormous single named space.”

Nadeau also stressed Pure’s position that the use case for FlashBlade isn’t just for the top of the market.

“Our belief is this isn’t limited to just the big guys, but to anyone with big data problems,” he said. “It all comes down to what they are trying to do. The minimum configuration is 90 TB of usable storage. It’s built for everybody. That’s a key differentiator versus our competition. We are democratizing flash, not building limited use cases.”

FlashBlade’s Early Access Program is open today, with directed availability in the second half of the year

While the FlashBlade takes Pure upmarket, the new all-flash //m10 takes it further downmarket in structured data.

“It has a starting price of less than $50,000, which includes a year of support,” Nadeau said. Designed to allow smaller organizations to run everything on flash at an affordable price point and begin their journey to an all-flash cloud. It can also be upgraded through Pure Storage’s Evergreen Storage program to the larger models in the FlashArray//m family, as the business grows. It has up to 30 TB of usable capacity as well as the simplicity and reliability of the rest of the family.

“This won’t replace all of the hybrid disk solutions, out there, but it will replace a lot of them,” Nadeau said. “We will continue to push further down in the market here as well. We see no future for disk as primary storage.”

The FlashArray//m10 will be generally available in May 2016.

Pure also announced several new FlashStack converged infrastructure solutions, starting in the $100,000 price range. These will be available starting in May 2016.

“The FlashStack Mini pairs the //m10 with Cisco UCS servers and either VMware or Microsoft virtualization software,” Nadeau said. “It is a full converged solution, prebuilt and pretested.”

The FlashStack Mini with Microsoft Hyper-V will enable Microsoft application consolidation for an on-premise cloud that is 100 percent virtualized and 100 percent all-flash. FlashStack Mini with VMware Horizon View will offer companies an entry level VDI solution that can support up to 500 virtual desktops, powered by all-flash.

Pure also announced a new all-flash hybrid cloud, in partnership with Microsoft Azure and Equinix. A similar offering with AWS is coming soon.