Pure Accelerate

Author: Rowena Samuel, Senior Field Solutions Architect, CDW Canada

Pure Storage recently held their annual Pure Accelerate Conference, online like many of the tech industry’s conferences this year. Though the in-person experience was missed, the content and interactive capabilities of the conference more than made up for it. There were plenty of great sessions to attend and the opportunity to network with Pure and our partners through the exhibit hall.

Pure Storage is a manufacturer of high performance, easy to manage and resilient enterprise-grade all-flash storage. They are one of the fastest growing IT storage companies in history and are a leader in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage and have been a leader for many years in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid State Arrays. They have been doing very well in recent years, with earnings up 21% in their last financial year. This year’s conference follows a positive earnings announcement for Pure coming out of the first quarter of their FY2021 financial year which ended on May 3rd. Despite the unprecedented circumstances we’ve all found ourselves in this year, Pure ended their first quarter with year-over-year quarterly revenue up by 21% and more interestingly, the revenue from their subscription services up by 37%.

With all their success, I was interested in hearing about what the company feels they have done right, and what their plans and direction will be for the remainder of this unpredictable year. Here are some of the highlights covered:

How to Evaluate your Current Technology Investments During the Global Crisis

The conference opened with a keynote from CEO, Charlie Giancarlo, and focused, not unsurprisingly, on the accelerated rate of digital transformation that has been forced on many companies due to the COVID crisis. Charlie shared with us three tips for surviving this crisis and evaluating your current technology investments:

  1. Secure your foundation with technology that is flexible, reliable and can move with you as you shift your business’ technology and spend
  2. Automate everything to improve the efficiency of your workforce. A lack of simplicity and automation erodes your efficiency and will cost your organization money
  3. Status quo is no more.  It is no longer possible to remain stagnant and succeed in this world. You need to actively seek out opportunities to drive your business to the next level and find technology that will help you do that.

Pure Storage is aligning their technology with these three tips in mind, focusing on data protection, Pure-as-a-Service (PaaS) and analytics solutions, which is what many of the conference sessions focused on as well. Pure also continues to invest in providing their customers with a first-class hybrid cloud storage experience.

Pure-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Pure seems to be investing heavily in their Pure-as-a-Service, which was discussed in a few sessions throughout the conference. They were very early to launch their hardware refresh program, which is just another example of them taking a different approach to addressing physical infrastructure challenges that many organizations are facing.

PaaS is not a lease but is an on-prem subscription service for block, file or object storage, coupled with the Pure1 management toolset for management of hybrid cloud storage and a host of analytics. This service is targeted more to larger organizations however, as it does require a minimum commitment of 100 TiB reserve capacity for one year. In return for the initial commitment comes a set of keys to access their cloud block storage, which is Pure’s software-defined cloud storage offering that allows you to take advantage of their hybrid cloud capabilities.

Throughout the conference, Pure had several great technology-focused announcements as well. Here are just a few: let’s take a closer look at some of the key new technical announcements at Pure Accelerate this year.

ActiveDR

New and included at no extra charge in the Purity//FA 6.0 release, is ActiveDR. ActiveDR provides organizations with a simplified disaster recovery workflow with no additional infrastructure required to achieve near-zero RPO. It allows continuous asynchronous replication over a standard internet connection, across almost unlimited distance. Though the recovery time is fast, failover does require a decision and manual intervention. Depending on the circumstances of failover, an RPO of near-zero is achievable with minimal data loss.

With the functionality of pods in ActiveDR, organizations can group all components of a critical applications within a pod for easy replication to remote sites. All components of the pod, such as volumes, snapshots, protection groups and QoS limits replicate to the target pod. In addition, all CLI, GUI and REST operations in the source pod are automatically replicated as well.

There are many use cases for ActiveDR, such as replication for VMware Site Recovery Manager, SAP, as well as SQL Server, Oracle and MongoDB database replication.

Pure already has two replication products in its portfolio:

  1. Active Cluster for business continuity, which provides business continuity with zero RPO, zero RTO and automatic failover, and
  2. Replication which is asynchronous and provides periodic replication to a colo or DR site.

ActiveDR fits neatly between these two products, rounding out Pure’s capabilities and providing enhanced DR replication for organizations that are geographically challenged or simply do not need a full business continuity solution.

File Services for Purity//FA 6.0

Along with several enhancements in Purity 6.0, Pure also announced the long-awaited integration of Compuverde into Purity software running on the FlashArray series storage. This integration enables NAS file services for user and home directory shares on the Flash Array platform, making it a unified, multiprotocol platform, now capable of natively supporting FC, iSCSI, NVMe-oF, VMware vVols, SMB and NFS.

The integration of Compuverde capabilities has been anticipated since the acquisition over a year ago. Pure is quick to point out that much of their key value to their customers is in the simplicity of the management of their products. They wanted the Compuverde acquisition to be no different, opting to take the time to fully integrate the software rather than introduce a gateway or another software layer.

The advantage of fully integrating the file services is that Pure’s variable block deduplication and compression features work globally across all workloads, both LUNs and volumes, as they share the same pool of storage. Also, the management simplicity is intended to be the same as the rest of the platform. Judging from the demos, this seems to have been successfully maintained.

Another noteworthy feature is that the new NAS services introduce the concept of a managed directory that can only be created and removed by the storage admin. What makes managed directories interesting is that they are the only directories that can have policies applied to them to restrict/control/manage exports, snapshots and (later this year) quotas. All metrics gathered on performance and space roll up under managed directories. Once created, a managed directory cannot be converted to an ordinary directory and vice versa.  Admins beware! Careful planning will be required before setting up the new NAS services to ensure you can apply policies where you need, and to ensure your metrics are useful.

Other new enhancements in Purity 6.0 also include:

  • DirectFlash Fabric
  • Filesystem Rollback
  • DirectMemory™ Cache – Public Tags
  • RSA Multi-factor Authentication
  • ActiveCluster for FA//C
  • Object-scale Volumes

Release of Purity//FB 3.0

The latest release of the Purity//FB 3.0 software is the largest since inception due to the introduction of many new features, including support for:

File Replication Microsoft Netgroups
Filesystem Rollback S3 Fast Copy
Object replication SMB Directory Service Enhancements
NFS V4.1 Kerberos Management Audit Logs
NFS Metadata Operations SNMP
NFS Hide Exports DHCP for Zero-Touch Provisioning

Although there are many new features from the new release, the key focus of the conference sessions was on the new file and object replication capabilities. These new capabilities provide native support for high performance replication of files and objects without crawling the filesystem or object store. Instead, Pure uses its file system metadata and checkpoints to help track changes. This allows the solution to grow to large-scale replication for modern workloads. Pure is claiming speeds of 11Gb/sec for file replication in their testing.

Cloud Block Store in Beta on Azure

The last announcement was that Cloud Block Store for Azure is now available in BETA release with an expected general availability release in the last quarter of this calendar year. Cloud Block Store is the Pure Storage cloud native block storage offering. It has been available for around a year now in the AWS marketplace and the AWS version is in general release.

Cloud Block Store offers a cloud version of the Purity software with the same functionality, look and feel as the Pure Storage on-prem solution. It is managed using the Pure1 cloud management platform which can manage Cloud Block Store, On-Prem Pure Storage arrays and Pure-as-a-Service subscriptions providing single-pane-of-glass management for the hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

Cloud Block Store is a pay-as-you-go model and can be used to provide on-prem to cloud DR, migration and test/dev using asynchronous replication, including the new ActiveDR feature. Cloud mobility can further be enabled from on-prem to cloud with CloudSnap and Snap to NFS, in order to move snapshots to the cloud for backup, governance and compliancy.

Overall, I left Pure Accelerate excited for all the new technology advancements coming from Pure Storage this year. I was only able to cover a few key topics here, however additional sessions are available online to those who registered for the conference as attendees. It is very clear that Pure Storage is continuing to focus their attention and capabilities on three areas: simplicity, performance and hybrid/multi-cloud.

If you are looking for more information on any of the technologies discussed in this blog, or our partnership with Pure Storage, please reach out to your CDW Account Team or visit cdw.ca/datacentre.

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