At Pure//Accelerate2017 this past month, Pure Storage announced new FlashArray hardware and software features.
New FlashArray hardware
Pure FlashArray//X has an NVMe (DirectFlash) based storage backend in the base chassis but until now, the only connection to an external drive shelf was via SAS. With this announcement, Pure now offers a new Native NVMe drive shelf that supports up to 28 DirectFlash storage modules. Recall that DirectFlash is Pure’s own proprietary NVMe flash storage module. DirectFlash allows FlashArray to pack more data into each drive and provide more predictable response times.
The NVMe drive shelf is connected to the main FlashArray//X through NVMe/F (NVMe over Fabric) using 50Gb/s Ethernet/RoCE v2 protocols. The NVMe drive shelf supports up to 512TB of flash storage. Pure FlashArray offers data compression and deduplication which could easily multiply this by 3X, providing 1.5PB of effective capacity.
At Accelerate, Pure also showed off a tech preview of end-to-end NVMe over 40Gb/s Ethernet links. In the preview, they had a FlashArray//X connected directly to a Cisco UCS server using NVMe/F. Pure stated this would be available sometime in 2018 and given this was a tech preview, there’s still much to be done to mature NVMe/F.
New FlashArray (Purity) software
Pure also announced ActiveCluster. This is a bi-directional, active-active synchronous replication and transparent failover feature. Bi-directional means storage systems at both sites can be actively servicing and replicating IO from the hosts at that site. Synchronous means that the data written to one FlashArray is mirrored to the other FlashArray before it is acknowledged back to a host.
Active-Active means for a Pure FlashArray that replicated LUNs can be written and read from both sites. So, the pair of FlashArrays present the same exact replicated volume to both sites. This is very unusual. Pure said it simplified their implementation considerably. We could see how this makes failover easier but it’s an unconventional solution.
ActiveCluster uses a mediator to determine which FlashArray is still active in the event of a network disconnection or site outage. Pure offers a Cloud Mediator for this purpose but it could also be run as a VM, at a third site with access to the other two sites.
Another FlashArray ActiveCluster feature is that there can be a third FlashArray located elsewhere (out of region) which is being asynchronously replicated from one or the other FlashArray at the two sites. Activating ActiveCluster seems surprisingly simple. Pure only created one new CLI command (purepod) and added a few options to other CLI commands which were already present to support ActiveCluster creation.
Pure also announced VMware VVols support for FlashArray. VMware VVols haven’t been as highly adopted as the industry had hoped. Pure’s implementation effectively makes a VVol equivalent to a LUN in almost every way.
Furthermore, Purity now offers Snap, SnapDiff and CloudSnap (to AWS S3). FlashArray can now snaphot LUN or VVol data to any other FlashArray, Pure FlashBlade or any NFS solution. The latter two use a portable snapshot format that embeds recovery metadata and can be used for incremental forever copies of LUN/VVol data. CloudSnap can provide a copy of LUN/VVol data in AWS S3 and retire it into AWS Glacier for long term retention. Purity also offers a DeltaSnap API which can be used by backup software or appliance to backup Pure FlashArray data. Pure will also offer native hydration of FlashArray S3 data in EBS format so that data and workloads can migrate from onsite to AWS EC2.
There was much more to Pure//Accelerate and it’s obvious that Pure is gaining a lot of customer traction. The engineering team seems very busy delivering new features and keeping FlashArray & FlashBlade using leading edge technology. Pure mentioned there were 25 new features delivered in Purity.
There were quite a few partners at the show including Cisco, Veeam, Cohesity and many others. Their ecosystem seems to be growing.
The conference site was in a part of San Francisco that was being actively re-developed and in an old building (Pier 70) that was being demolished the week after the show. For the show, Pure piped in 3MW of power, built a 420M pixel-110-foot-wide LED display, laid ten miles of cable, constructed 1 mile of truss work and other infrastructure. It made for an interesting venue.
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Silverton Consulting, Inc., is a U.S.-based Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting firm offering products and services to the data storage community