Pure Storage presented at Storage Field Day 20 this month [August 2020, the Eds.] and revealed that they are now shipping QLC NAND on FlashArray//C AFA storage.
At last year’s [2019, the Eds] //Accelerate, Pure Storage announced the FlashArray//C, as a capacity optimized AFA storage solution. At that time FlashArray//C was shipping with TLC NAND but was designed to support QLC.
QLC is starting to come out in a few storage systems, mostly file storage, focused on big data, media and entertainment and other verticals with exploding data growth. As far as we can tell, this is the first block storage AFA shipping QLC.
The problem with QLC is that i’s endurance is way worse than TLC and its write performance is abysmal, almost disk level and that’s just some of the more serious issues with QLC. As a result, QLC presents an order of magnitude more work to use effectively in storage products. If you want a birds eye view of the problems with QLC NAND, watch Pure’s sessions at SFD20.
Most other AFA storage deploying QLC, use storage class memory (SCM) to mask QLC’s plague of problems. With SCM, storage systems can almost ignore QLC’s disk like performance and durabilty concerns. However, Pure’s FlashArray//C has no SCM and is an all-QLC AFA.
Pure doesn’t use SSDs in their AFA storage but instead uses a proprietary DirectFlash solution which offers them a global view of NAND they use to optimize storage use of NAND. It turns out that DirectFlash is where Pure dealt with all the issues of QLC.
Pure’s FlashArray was always intended to offer the performance of flash at the price of hybrid storage. With QLC NAND and FlashArray//C, Pure is finally making that intent more of a reality.
Earlier this year Pure Storage announced a new version of their FlashArray system software called Purity 6.0. There were a number of enhancements introduced in Purity 6.0 for FlashArray systems, some of which include:
• NFS and SMB File support – FlashArray storage now supports both file and block storage. This means that the FlashArray//C can also be used for file services.
• ActiveDR – FlashArray now offers a continuous active-passive replication solution for Near-0 RPO for disaster recovery. This is in addition to synchronous ActiveCluster™ and their snapshot replication solutions.
• Volume tagging – FlashArray now provides volume tagging metadata that will move with volumes as they are snapshot, replicated, CloudSnapped, etc.
• Tech preview of CloudSnap for GCP – with the preview, FlashArray snapshots can be copied to GCP storage. This is augments Pure’s current support of CloudSnap for AWS S3 and Azure Blob storage.
Pure Storage teams up with Cohesity for FlashRecover
To provide data protection for FlashArray storage, Pure is now combining with Cohesity data protection to supply a Flash to Flash to Cloud (F2F2C) data protection solution called FlashRecover. In FlashRecover, the Cohesiity nodes have no storage and provide data protection services for FlashArray that uses FlashBlade for backup storage. FlashRecover backup data can also be migrated to cloud. FlashRecover is to be sold by Pure Storage.
FlashArray//C was designed from the start to support QLC NAND. QLC has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of storage, if storage vendors can make effective use of it. The fact that FlashArray//C doesn’t use SCM to support QLC storage speaks volumes on the design work they went through in DirectFlash.
Purity 6.0 was another major release of storage functionality for the FlashArray product lines. ActiveDR provides a 3rd way for replicating data that many companies find appealing as it doesn’t incur the performance burden of synchronous while still providing close to 0 RPO. And FlashArray file support seems even more interesting with QLC FlashArray//C.
Finally, Cohesity is normally deployed using its own software defined storage. With FlashBlade, FlashRecover should supply even better backup throughput than a standard Cohesity cluster. This adds to the many other Pure Storage technical alliances with other backup solution providers.
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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.