Product Review: Pure Storage FlashArray//m
Pure Storage’s FlashArray//m combines the proven effectiveness and strength of all flash software and all flash hardware to help enterprise businesses beat the constantly evolving technological storage game and still be able to scale their capacities as needed. Now, the system can be utilized by any business to help transform and expand the capabilities of the already existing storage rack, data center, cloud, or hybrid combination.
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Evergreen Storage is Pure Storage’s storage procurement and upgrades system. Capacity Packs come in 5TB, 10TB or 20TB of raw capacity (up to 120TB usable respectively) to expand base chassis capacity. The M50 can scale with two 2U expansion shelves up to 7U and 250TB usable capacity while the M70 can scale up to 11U with four expansion shelves and 450TB usable.
Pure Storage’s fourth generation of FlashArray, FlashArray//m, is a completely integrated software and hardware, primary storage solution that was novel to All-Flash-Array (AFA) solutions when it was first released in 2015. The hardware and software are designed to work together to deliver better performance, scalability and simplicity.
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It is important to note that there are four FlashArray//m models currently available—the m10, the m20, m50, and m70.
The m70 offers 300,000 random 32K read IOPS, 50% more than the previous generation, and up to 9GB/sec bandwidth with flash’s traditional sub-millisecond latency. The //m10 runs up to 100,000 IOPS, the mm//20 up to 150,000 IOPS and the //m50 up to 220,000.
FlashArray//mm’s simplicity roots from the Pure Storage’s purposeful design choices: a 3U chassis base and six cables. Additionally, they purposely instilled more power in less parts through custom creations to guarantee that system set-up was minimized to minutes; any downtime that occurs once the system is in place can be backed up by other power sources within the system.
Finally, the scalability options needed to follow that same simple hardware model so, Evergreen Storage was further developed. Evergreen Storage is Pure Storage’s storage procurement and upgrades system; these new innovations are aimed to deliver more performance while eliminating IT inefficiencies.
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The chassis, controllers and capacity packs make the configuration possibilities even greater for businesses that need to increase storage over time. Customers can buy Capacity Packs with 5TB, 10TB or 20TB of raw capacity (up to 120TB usable respectively) to expand base chassis capacity. The M50 can scale with two 2U expansion shelves up to 7U and 250TB usable capacity while the M70 can scale up to 11U with four expansion shelves and 450TB usable capacity.
With Evergreen, customers can deploy their storage once and upgrade it over and over again in-place for generations. Pure Storage achieves this upgrade model though a combination of its FlashArray software-defined architecture with Forever Flash, the company’s maintenance program.
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Forever Flash will deliver software and periodic hardware updates to customers for flat pricing to keeping businesses’ equipment up to date. FlashCare can also be used to leverage the custom NV-RAM cartridges to ensure a longer lifespan for the underlying SSDs and better performance for longer.
In FlashArray//m’s architecture, Pure Storage has kept familiar components including Intel CPUs, DRAM Memory and standard SSDs, but streamlined them into a smaller, higher density platform. This design allows the //m to take full advantage of both the technologies and density and price point targets.
The array utilizes dual-drive flash modules, that pack two independent SSDs in each slot, doubling the potential performance and density. Drive modules are then redundantly connected to both controllers and can be easily replaced with no performance interruptions. Pure Storage’s use of a flash module design also allows for a new interposer that converts SATA to SAS and provides interfaces for two SSDs in each module. This not only increases capacity, but also allows for double the amount of SSD controllers for a noticeable and notable performance increase.
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The FlashArray//m features four controller options to allow different tiers of performance and capacity for enterprises. New controllers are planned to be shipped about annually, and can be replaced or upgraded without effecting the performance.
Additionally, the FlashArray//m has onboard SAS, replication, management ports, and host-based IO ports that can be configured to meet a variety of needs. Per chassis, there are 6 slots, configurable with 8 or 16 Gb/s FC or 10 Gb/s Ethernet iSCSI to maximize performance and speed.
For the new platform, Pure Storage designed their own NV-RAM cartridges that allow the storage system to put the writes in NV-RAM before spreading the data evenly across all the SSDs. The new NV-RAM modules combine both DDR3 DRAM and NAND flash, backed by super capacitors. Consequently, the stored energy inside the super capacitors can be used to power the NV-RAM module in case of sudden, unexpected power loss; these modules are able to retain the data for one year without power. Pure Storage’s new FlashArray is equipped with up to four of these hot swappable modules, which are dual-homed to both controllers and NVMe-enabled PCIE connect them.
FlashArray//m combined with the power and support of Pure1 software allows Pure Storage to have predictive support that can foresee vulnerability to known issues and allows pre-emptive actions to minimize downtime risks.
Purity FlashReduce implements five forms of inline and post process data reduction applications that operate at a 512- byte aligned variable block size that enables effective abatement across a wide range of mixed workloads without interruption.
FlashProtect, the protective branch of Purity, implements high availability, dual-parity RAID-3D, non-disruptive upgrades, and encryption, all of which are designed to deliver full performance to the system even during any failure or maintenance event. All FlashProtect services are fully integrated into the FlashArray and leverage the native data reduction capabilities.
FlashRecover combines space-saving snapshots, replication and protection policies into an end-to-end data protection and recovery solution that protects data against potential local and global loss. FlashArray//m is constantly cloud-connected, enabling Pure Storage to deliver a proactive support experience.
A rich set of APIs, plugins, application connectors and automation toolkits enable FlashArray//m to connect to existing data centers and cloud monitoring, management and other tools. By combining local web-based management with cloud-based monitoring, Pure1 Manage allows FlashArray management anywhere—as long as there is connection to a web browser.
Finally, Pure Storage tested and now ensures that FlashArray//m works with several large technology vendor names including Oracle business applications, Microsoft SQL Server applications, VMWare cloud and data center infrastructures, RedHat cloud, Citrix, and OpenStack. FlashArray//m aims to be an addition and integral partner that future proofs enterprise business’ IT storage centers.
Similar to Pure Storage’s FlashArray//m system is NetApp’s SolidFire’s AFA that also incorporates flash software and hardware to create usable technological storage to transform data centers, clouds and more.
For enterprise businesses, all-flash-arrays offer a tool that can help transform already present data centers into even greater, bigger and higher scale storage solutions.