Pure FlashArray X NVMe Review

The duplication algorithm enables us to get a lot more use out of less storage


What is our primary use case?

We use this solution primarily for production data for our virtual environment. We run a lot of SQL out of it.

We use the on-premises deployment model.

How has it helped my organization?

Speed has definitely been a big improvement for us. We were running a bunch of iSCSI to EMC VNX and that had a gigabyte bottleneck. Now, since we're running through a true fiber channel to the Pure array, we're getting 32-gigabyte bandwidth. That means the speed and accessibility for our users and our customers have definitely improved.

The Hypervisor that ESX and vCenter use, as well as the Orchestrator for some automation,  have helped to improve my organization. There's a lot that VMware does for us. Probably 95% of our infrastructure is built on VMware's platform, hosted on-premises. This is soon to be 100%. We have some physical stuff that we're converting and VMware has made it possible to pick up and drop those servers onto their platform. We'll reach 100% by the end of the year for sure.

We do have VMware analytics stood up. It's a simple Linux machine that runs a Kubernetes container that talks back to Pure1, which is their public website for support as well as for analytics, which we're using also. It's just a simple API. 

We also use vRealize. It helps us pinpoint issues as they come. We haven't done a whole lot of the automation through vRealize, but we're probably going to work towards that so that if we have an allocation issue, it can automatically shift things for us. But the DRS and HA kind of do a lot of that for us inherently. There hasn't been a huge drive to do any of that quite yet.

What is most valuable?

The duplication algorithm allows us to get a lot more use out of less storage. We're running a five terabyte array right now and we're running probably about 30 terabytes on it. So the duplication rate is pretty phenomenal, without a cost to performance. It still runs pretty smoothly.

What needs improvement?

They can tout the functionality and cutting edge technology that they have, but that's where the price tag comes in. The cost is high, but I think as they grow their business and get more customers that it will probably go down a little bit.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think it's a lot better than what we were running for production as far as the VNX, which has fail drives about every month. It had the EMC VNX protocol. And it's not the VNX product itself, it's just that we have a much older one so it has older disks and drives that will fail.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We absolutely see this working as our company grows. Even though it is fairly simplified in the way that they do their RAID and everything like that. It makes pulling drives and putting new ones in super simple. The costs could be improved though because it is quite expensive.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their customer service is phenomenal. In their escalation paths, everything is laid out in black and white and it's very streamlined. Then they even go so far as to actually talk with other vendors on those integrations. If there's a potential issue with VMware and there's a potential issue with Cisco, Pure engineers will actually talk to Cisco engineers or VMware engineers and come to a resolution together instead of pointing fingers and saying, "Well, it's their problem, not ours." I've actually seen that in action so it's not just talk. You can actually do that.

It ended up being an incompatibility on the Cisco end for the UCS from one of the drivers that we had installed based on the firmware that we installed for that particular blade. But rather than Pure just saying it's Cisco's problem, call Cisco, they actually got on with a TAC engineer and talked us through it. With this method, they came to a resolution a lot quicker than it would have been to just open a ticket with Cisco and start the troubleshooting process all over again.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I had worked at a different company and we switched from EMC's XtremIO flash array to Pure and we were actually one of Pure's first customers when we did that. Their simplified support model and then their Evergreen program where they upgrade controllers as they come out was pretty phenomenal. I carried that over into the company I work for now. I kind of suggested that as a route to go in.

We used VNX, which we still have. I think one of the main driving points at the time was that we were running out of space on the VNX and the flash pool, and we could have added additional space, but the cost comparison between getting a Pure array and adding a new shelf to the VNX was about the same. I felt like we would get more bang for our buck going to Pure, which we have.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward. It's pretty much plug and play.

What about the implementation team?

We actually used Pure professional services, which we didn't even really need, but we used anyway because it came with the implementation purchase. We did use a reseller to buy. We used RoundTower to buy the Pure array. We used professional services from Pure. It was probably set up within 20 minutes ad we could've done it ourselves, but it's always good to have trained hands on it.

What was our ROI?

A SQL job that would normally take six minutes running on VNX takes two minutes on Pure. That's been pretty beneficial because we're constantly running reports out of those SQL instances. We've seen enhancement and efficiencies from that.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

EMC still has good products so they were still there. We were looking at adding additional space to the VNX. And then for general purpose, we did look at some stuff through Cohesity, but we needed more performance-oriented space. So that's why we went with Pure.

What other advice do I have?

Try to get as many discounts as you can if you go with Pure.

If you don't need performance-oriented space or storage, Cohesity is very well priced and scalable. If you just need file server storage, you might not want to go with Pure. You might want to go with something a lot cheaper or more cost-effective like Cohesity.

The Systems Engineer that we worked with was a huge help, too. 

I would rate this solution as a nine out of ten. It's very functional and very cutting edge. Technology just costs a lot.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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