Pure Storage unifies block and file, adds continuous replication in updated FlashArray software

Pure’s new product announcements were rather fewer in number at their first virtual customer event than they typically are when the event isn’t forced online by a pandemic. The announcements they did make were very important, however.

Today, at their virtualized Pure Accelerate Digital Conference, Pure Storage announced their new Purity 6.0 software for their FlashArray all-flash array family. Two new features highlight this version of the software. It now provides a fully unified block-and-file solution designed to run all workloads within the Purity operating environment, meeting the needs of organization that mainly run block storage, but still have some separate network-attached storage. Pure also announced active disaster recovery built on new continuous replication technology.

“With Purity 6.0 we are introducing a new set of capabilities on the data protection side,” said Prakash Darji, General Manager, FlashArray.

Pure’s legacy was primarily in block storage, and while FlashBlade, their  platform for unstructured storage, has integrated file storage capabilities, FlashArray, which is Pure’s flagship offering, has not up till now. However Pure acquired Swedish file software specialist Compuverde a year ago with the idea of integrating their file services directly into FlashArray. While there will undoubtedly be new file services added going forward, the task of making FlashArray a unified block and file platform like FlashBlade has been accomplished with the Purity 6.0 release.

‘We still handle primarily block workloads, but this provides file access with shared protocols,” Darji said. “It ensures that we could cover the gamut of customer use cases, and also ensures that our API management monitoring and configuration are identical across FlashArray and FlashBlade.”

Charlie Giancarlo, Pure’s CEO and Chairman, talked about the new Active DR capability at some length in his presentation kicking off Accelerate.

“Today we are announcing that we have increased reliability even further, with a new replication capability called ActiveDR, which brings near zero RPO continuous replication to FlashArray,” Giancarlo said. “ActiveDR joins ActiveCluster and our other replication offerings in FlashArray  and FlashBlade ensuring that it’s quick and easy to protect your data between data centres, and frankly, even to the public cloud.”

“We now can provide continuous replication between any two points on the earth,” Darji stated.

“Early on, we introduced zero impact snapshotting and periodic replication,” said James Gallegos, Product Marketing Manager at FlashArray. “That was years ago. Since then, we  added additional DR capabilities,  periodic snapshots moving into the cloud, and in 2018 we  introduced ActiveCluster. Now, we are getting a lot of feedback from customers who want ActiveCluster features, but without requirements for synchronous replication. In many areas, the production and DR are so far apart that there is latency, or they might have networking issues so they don’t have low latency round trip time.”

Active DR’s active-passive replication technology addresses these issues by protecting critical applications with a near-zero recovery point objective (RPO).

“The continuous replication, which is continually happening in the background, is what gives us near zero RPO,” Gallegos said.

He also emphasized that because Active DR is built in natively to the UI, there are no additional  licenses or support costs, and that it is part of an Evergreen subscription.

“Others can do this, but with different products, and they require separate licensing and different configurations for different things,” Darji said. “This can bring the goodness of ActiveClustering to more people who couldn’t use it before because of geographic distances.”

Validated designs for ActiveDR were also announced around VMware Site Recovery Manager, Microsoft SQL, Oracle, SAP, and MongoDB

Other announcements from the event include following up last year’s Cloud Block Store for AWS and this year’s beta of Cloud Block Store for Microsoft Azure with a technical preview of CloudSnap for Google Cloud Platform. It further expands cloud options, letting Pure’s snapshots be replicated on GCP for offsite storage and reuse.

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