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Pure Storage Offers Cheaper Enterprise Disk Alternative

Pure Storage is officially unveiling its initial product offering, an all-flash enterprise storage array that the company says is more than 10 times faster and 10 times more space- and power-efficient, at a lower per-gigabyte price, than disk-centric arrays. Its FlashArray FA-300 Series is 100% multilevel cell (MLC) flash-based, delivering hundreds of thousands of IOPS with less than 1 ms latency, and features inline deduplication and compression to achieve five to 20 times data reduction rates. Although the product won't be generally available until year's end, the company has already shipped 15 systems to beta customers and is acquiring real-world data to demonstrate its business value.

Faster access to less data is a critical consideration for enterprises, says the company. Enterprise data continues to grow at alarming rates--50% to 60% per year--fueling solid, if less-heady growth in storage, which totaled $30.8 billion in 2010 and will grow to $37.3 billion by 2015, according to IDC. But while enterprise storage was surging 18% between 2009 and 2010, solid-state drives and flash memory shot up 103% last year. This market is expected to grow 13% in the second half of 2011 to $4.67 billion, reports IHS-iSuppli, and while hard disk drives will account for 71%, that will represent only a 0.9% increase over the first half, while SSDs will be up 61% to $1.35 billion.

One of the biggest barriers to flash in the enterprise has been cost, says Pure Storage. "Flash has become the revolution in the storage industry that no one can afford, says Matt Kixmoeller, VP products. He adds that flash won't replace disk in all cases, but in any workload where performance matters, the company believes flash is the solution. "Part of our breakthrough is how we can bring flash to the masses."

Based on early customer experiences, the results are game-changing, says Pure Storage. One customer achieved a 15-to-1 data reduction and required 50% fewer servers for its VMware workload, while another VMware user reported a 17-to-1 data reduction and virtualized SQL and Exchange. For Oracle applications, one customer saw a 4-to-1 data reduction and three times query time improvement, while a second had a 7-to-1 data reduction and enabled virtualized Oracle. The numbers were even better for Microsoft SQL users, with one user seeing a 9.2-to-1 data reduction and 3.5 times query time improvement, and another reporting a 6.8-to-1 data reduction and seven times query time improvement.

The company's objective is to provide a solution that costs less than disk as measured by dollars per gigabyte of useable data. In addition to offering a 50% discount compared with disk, Pure Storage says additional savings are available with lower power and space costs, as well as the ability to reduce the number of servers by up to 50%.

This brings to mind a paradigm shift, says Mark Peters, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "Assuming all the things they say come true, the logic behind what they're doing ... is a potential paradigm shift. If I can do my storage on solid state and not spend any more money or save, why not do it?"

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