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Pure Storage FlashArray gets file support, meatier DR

Pure Storage Purity FA 6.0 OS continuously replicates production data between FlashArray nodes. Pure FlashArray File services allow file and block storage to share flash.

Pure Storage built file storage natively into its block storage platform, and bolstered disaster recovery with continuous snapshots and replication across distances.

The vendor launched the upgrades at its Pure Accelerate virtual conference this week. It integrated file system protocols in version 6 of the Purity FA operating system for FlashArray with technology acquired from Compuverde in 2019.

The DR features include ActiveDR geosynchronous replication between FlashArray nodes and the public cloud.

File and block share pooled flash

Pure Storage FlashArray and the vendor's FlashBlade NAS platform run separate versions of Purity OS. Pure released Purity 3 for FlashBlade in May.

File storage relies on a file system to organize data in a hierarchical structure, including POSIX and other legacy file systems. Block arrays that need to access file data usually require a workaround such as a NAS gateway or running a file system in the system kernel.

Early models of FlashArray SAN systems supported Fibre Channel and iSCSI block storage. Pure added NVMe support in 2017 with the launch of its RoCE-enabled DirectFlash memory modules. The Compuverde file system makes up the new Pure FlashArray File Services, which require no gateway.

Compuverde gave Pure a file system and the ability to build NFS and SMB protocols directly into FlashArray architecture. The feature allows block and file workloads to run on shared flash with global data reduction.

"We added file protocols, but not as another layer you have to manage. This is not a file system sitting on top of a volume," said Prakash Darji, the vice president and general manager of Pure Storage FlashArray.

The ability to serve block and file from the same all-flash devices opens the door to serving workloads that would have been impossible before now, said Steve McDowell, a senior analyst of storage and data center technologies at Moor Insights & Strategy.

"I think we all expected Pure to take that acquisition and head straight into the cloud with it, much as NetApp has done with its cloud-based file services. Instead, Pure surprised us by putting those capabilities into FlashArray," McDowell said.

File protocols give Pure a pathway to adjacent markets, McDowell said, particularly applications for high-end file service such as home directories and virtual desktop infrastructure. It also aids storage consolidation by serving unified storage from a single device.

"The caveat, of course, is that this is Pure's first release and they're still getting comfortable with the technology. The real payoff will be down the road as Pure fleshes out the offering with enterprise capabilities," McDowell said.

While FlashArray and FlashBlade both support file storage now, Pure positions them for different use cases. FlashArray is recommended for databases over NFS or SMB file protocols and other enterprise file-sharing use cases. FlashBlade, which also supports object storage, is designed for artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, high-performance computing and backup.

Snapshot options on Pure Storage FlashArray

ActiveDR uses passive-active continuous replication between FlashArray pods. The vendor claims its single-command failover and intelligent failback support fast recovery time. The new data protection augments ActiveCluster active-active synchronous replication for real-time array failover of Pure Storage FlashArray.

Pure said ActiveDR allows space-efficient snapshot to extend across geographic distances to deliver near-zero data recovery.

"It allows businesses to do nondisruptive DR testing to better mitigate the risks" of losing data, said Shawn Rosemarin, Pure's vice president of worldwide systems engineering.

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