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Pure Storage cloud plan gets warm reception from end users

Pure Storage made new FlashArray and FlashBlade all-flash systems generally available this week, emphasizing their role in moving data seamlessly between local and cloud storage.

After hearing the Pure Storage cloud message, customers at the vendor's Accelerate annual user conference said...

they were eager to expand their use cases for the vendor's all-flash storage portfolio.

Pure executives preached simplicity, security and scalability during keynotes at last week's San Francisco gathering. Customers said they would like to deploy the flash vendor's revamped products for legacy and emerging AI applications, as well as in public clouds and expanded private clouds.

Charles Giancarlo, CEO of the Mountain View, Calif., company, conjured images of the San Francisco gold rush, likening storage customers to modern-day forty-niners. On average, about half of an organization's data is never analyzed, because legacy storage infrastructure isn't equipped to support it, he said.

"We're moving into the zettabyte era. There's a huge opportunity to pull that ore out of the ground, and we give you the picks and shovels to do it," Giancarlo said.

Mining for medical gold

Benjamin Nathan, CIO at the University of California, Los Angeles' David Geffen School of Medicine, is among those mining for gold in reams of data. Pure Storage FlashBlade scale-out NAS is on his wish list, Nathan said. Although he has no timetable for deploying FlashBlade, Nathan said scale-out NAS is a natural complement to a large FlashArray virtualization cluster.

Pure Storage cloud support for Amazon S3 is attractive, Nathan said, but his Microsoft shop would also like to see Pure integration with Azure.

Nathan became a Pure customer when serving in IT leadership jobs at Cornell University's Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City before heading west. At UCLA, Nathan said he installed Pure Storage FlashArray to replace roughly 500 physical servers and provided centralized shared storage for more than two dozen IT teams.

"The thing that interests me about FlashBlade, beyond just the performance and scalability, is you can use it to provide storage-like workspaces from Amazon S3 and, hopefully, eventually, Azure," he said. "I want to seamlessly be able to incorporate our on-premises and cloud storage in one offering that I can manage on the back end."

When uptime matters

Robert Green, CTO of virtual desktop infrastructure specialist Dizzion, said he was initially skeptical of Pure's claims it could scale performance to handle any workload. Dizzion, based in Denver, provides desktop as a service to organizations that need continuous uptime.

"I told them, 'OK, we'll throw our most challenging workloads at it,'" Green said. "We have one customer that always red-lines our storage, and they can't have any downtime. I put that workload on the Pure, and it didn't miss a beat."

Dizzion's Pure Storage cloud consists of dense "pods" of compute and storage, Green said. Each pod has 42 server nodes atop 6U of FlashArray storage and can support 3,000 desktops. Dizzion has scaled to nine pods.

"It cost us less to buy the Pure Storage than to keep building our own servers and flash-based storage devices every year," Green said.

Some Pure Storage cloud customers -- such as Workday -- are moving slowly to adopt a multi-cloud architecture. Workday provides financial services and human resources software via its private cloud.

Workday replicates mission-critical data among its own data centers, using the cloud selectively, said Job Simon, the Pleasanton, Calif., company's vice president of IT strategy and architecture.

Workday deploys a Pure Storage cloud environment on FlashArray//M systems to send fast reads and writes in memory to disk. Pure Storage is enormously helpful in managing the throughput for mixed workloads, Simon said.

Data reduction results

Frost Bank, based in San Antonio, switched to Pure Storage after years as a Hitachi Vantara customer. As a financial services firm, Frost Bank avoids placing data beyond its internal firewall, said Dan King, Frost's vice president of IT operations.

"One of the interesting things I heard during this conference is that people still think of Pure as an array for point-in-time use cases, and that's not how we use it at all," King said. "We use Pure to replace entire Hitachi VSPs [Virtual Storage Platforms]. We run 90% of our workloads on the Pure."

King said he is most impressed by the high data reduction Pure delivers to his highly virtualized storage.

"We had about 150 TB of VMware, but after data deduplication and compression, that equaled 12 TB of actual storage," he said. "That's amazing. I would have bought and paid for all of that [capacity] with any other vendor."

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Pure Storage is touting a data-centric architecture based on data sharing among multiple clouds. How does Pure's approach differ from competitors, if at all?
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