Pure Nonsense – Separating Fact From Fiction in Flash
At Dell EMC we have been designing, developing and supporting Tier-1 mission critical storage environments for decades with industry-leading solutions. Although each customer defines “Tier-1” based on their unique needs, there are some common requirements everyone agrees must be offered for an all-flash storage portfolio to be considered for use in a Tier-1 mission critical environment.
Mission Critical Storage Checklist:
Many vendors claim to have Tier-1 mission critical storage, but knowledgeable customers can quickly see through the hype. Just saying your storage is for Tier-1 or mission critical environments doesn’t make it true, you need the proven architecture and data services to support it.
For example, Pure Storage has recently made the following claim:
“FlashArray//X now represents a higher-performance tier for mission-critical databases, top of rack flash deployments, and Tier 1 application consolidation”
The announcement of their new FlashArray//X (//X) has forced Pure Storage to make this bold (and questionable) claim and relegate their previous generation, the FlashArray//M (//M) series, as “most economic all-flash consolidation”. But what does that mean?
The implication is that the new //X array has something new, or at least improved that makes it more suitable for mission critical/Tier-1 application environments than the previous //M series. However, all we can see is that it should be faster than the FlashArray //M thanks to Pure’s proprietary NVMe drives (aka – flash modules). That’s it… there’s no evidence of new or improved Tier-1 mission critical data services!
After much research on Pure’s website, it turns out that the only real difference between the //X and the //M series is the use of proprietary NVMe ‘Direct Flash’ modules and ‘Direct Flash’ software, which Pure Storage claims will make the //X faster than the current //M series. However, as the //X isn’t generally available yet, and since Pure Storage isn’t publishing any performance numbers, no one really know what that means.
Fun fact: Pure Storage recently removed all FlashArray performance metrics from its website and data sheets – perhaps they don’t want you comparing FlashArray to other industry-leading all-flash arrays?
So the question is, how does an unspecified performance improvement, and no new or improved data services, make the FlashArray//X more appropriate for mission critical/Tier-1 environments? The obvious answer – It doesn’t!
However, adding customized NVMe flash modules does make the array more expensive (to cover the cost of all the custom-built proprietary hardware), which means they need to make it sound more capable to justify the cost premium. In fact, Pure Storage has been clear that the FlashArray//X needs to be positioned into mission critical Tier-1 application environments because these environments have larger budgets.
Since Pure Storage now positions its previous generation, the //M series, for “general-purpose consolidation”, it’s clear even they understand it’s not built for mission critical environments. Since it’s all they’ve been selling, they don’t seem to understand the true requirements of mission critical storage. Luckily for you, Dell EMC does… so, make sure you consider the following before putting FlashArray//X into your mission critical data centers.
Consider the following before considering FlashArray//X for your Tier-1 mission critical environments
Pure Storage’s FlashArray//X still uses the same active-passive (backend is passive) dual controller architecture
Dell EMC arrays leverage dual fully active and multi-controller architectures
Mission Critical Availability
Pure Storage is marketing their new FlashArray//X as being always-on and having six-nines availability before the first units have even been installed! The calculation here is questionable at best. Dell EMC offers at least six-nines of availability with an architecture that has been proven over decades of use, in the world’s most demanding environments.
Mission Critical Tier-1 Data Services
FlashArray//X is lacking key data services:
Insufficient Mission Critical Remote Replication
Limited Snapshot Technology and NO Integrated Copy Data Management
No non-disruptive data migration tools
Cannot Consolidate Block and File on the Same Array
Dell EMC arrays have a host of proven mission critical data services and tools that have been in mission critical production environments for years
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and watch for more as we focus on other relevant enterprise storage themes.
You may be wondering… what about NVMe – isn’t it a requirement for enterprise storage today? Not exactly, for now see here and stay tuned for more on that topic in an upcoming blog!
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