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Pure Storage all-flash customers wade slowly into cloud

Major enterprise customers say Pure Storage all-flash storage arrays have matured to automate cloud-based application development. Other Pure users take a more cautious approach.

Pure Storage all-flash customers are finding ways to build enterprise clouds based on the vendor's storage arrays and cloud software stack.

Credit card giant Capital One started to migrate data to the cloud as part of its digital transformation, but it also needed to ensure it could extract data quickly and at a finite level if one of its cloud providers suffered an outage. The cloud environment needed to be "dynamic and agile" to satisfy regulations and data privacy rules, said Brian Wong, a Capital One technology fellow.

"Everything we're doing with our partners is designed to build dynamic environments that we can call simply and easily," Wong told an audience at the Pure Accelerate annual user conference last month.

Wong said Capital One is "all in on the cloud" and uses Pure Storage all-flash arrays to automate application development and consolidate data stored on disk. He said Pure arrays are only part of Capital One's heterogeneous storage environment.

"All our providers are great partners, but none of them [is able to do] everything we need," Wong said, adding that the Pure arrays provide application consistency groups needed for Capital One data services.

Wong said Capital One is looking into Pure Cloud Block Store, a major rewrite of the Purity operating system to boost reliability of arrays running in Amazon Web Services. Capital One uses both AWS and Microsoft Azure as part of its multicloud deployment.

Delta lifts off with Pure CI

Pure Storage all-flash FlashStack converged infrastructure system is the heart of Delta Airlines' private hosted cloud for primary applications. The Delta Private Cloud underpins the Atlanta-based airline's effort to "turn flying into something you look forward to," said Rene Lopez, Delta's director of infrastructure.

Lopez said Pure FlashStack -- which includes Cisco servers and switching -- helps Delta to convert data into competitive intelligence. The on-premises FlashStack accelerates mission-critical applications and enables a more agile IT environment, Lopez said.

For example, Lopez said Delta uses Pure Storage FlashStack to power AI applications, including real-time passenger feedback on weather conditions. Delta uses that information in deciding whether to reroute flights, Lopez said.

"Utilizing the Delta Private Cloud with FlashStack has helped us realize business value 10 times faster than we did before," he said.

Insurance with FlashArray//X

Online insurance company Esurance runs two Pure FlashArray//X systems as its main storage to support data warehouses and e-commerce applications. Esurance devotes one FlashArray for storage and mirrors data to a second node at its disaster recovery site.

"It acts like our internal private cloud," said Deepak Seth, an Esurance technical program manager for infrastructure.

Esurance decided on Pure Storage all-flash systems as part of a phased retirement of older Nimble Storage hybrid arrays. Seth said Esurance data is growing by 10% to 50% a year.

Seth said he is interested in Pure VM1 Analytics, a cloud-based predictive tool to aid capacity planning and pinpoint trouble spots. Pure VM1 maps individual virtual machines to the hardware storage array on which it runs. It operates in much the same manner as the InfoSight predictive analytics pioneered by Nimble Storage, which is now owned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Seth said Esurance is interested in Pure Cloud Block Store, but the decision to deploy it or not will be made by its parent company, Allstate Insurance. "Pure is all-flash, so we want to offload things which are not in use and archive data to other buckets," he said. "And [with Cloud Block Store], Pure allows you to do that now."

But not every Pure customer is finding the transition to the cloud to be seamless. Navis is a Pure Storage all-flash customer whose business involves automating operations at major marine ports. Navis uses Pure Storage FlashArray as its primary storage.

Steve Culy, a Navis senior hardware engineer, said the company eventually plans to take advantage of Pure CloudSnap replication to AWS. For now, the company is using Cohesity disk appliances to replace older Dell EMC DataDomain backup appliances.

 Pure CloudSnap provides needed cloud features, but getting Navis engineers on board is a challenge, Culy said.

"There are several different ways of doing this and we're trying to figure out which is the best bang for the buck," he said. "Most of our environment doesn't need to be backed up. Before the Cohesity boxes arrived, I think we backed up about 2-3%. Now we're up to 40%."

Dig Deeper on All-flash arrays

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Pure Storage is pushing all-flash as the default cloud platform. How realistic is this approach, considering the higher cost of flash to disk?
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