Pure Storage FlashArray Review

Makes it vastly easier to do rapid database provisioning without a performance hit

What is our primary use case?

Since we're a database shop, we primarily do databases on Pure. Everything else follows from that.

How has it helped my organization?

We are doing a project in tandem with Boeing to develop a security solution for their Oracle databases. We've been doing it in the VMware virtual solutions lab, which is back-ended by Pure Storage. It's a very complex project. Pure made it fast enough that we could cycle through the things that we needed to cycle through to get it exactly right. We were able to do so a lot of times, to rev it enough to get it refined to where the process was exactly right every time. There's no way we would have had time to rev it that much had it been on anything slower.

It helps simplify storage. When you're running Pure all-flash, you don't have to do a lot of the old Oracle best practices. You don't have to worry about putting log files on a different disk channel than the data files, and those types of issues. As long as you don't max out the bandwidth of your connectivity, your Fibre Channel, then it doesn't matter. That has pushed the bottleneck down to the connectivity to the storage, as opposed to the different spindle groups on your storage. That has made it vastly easier to do large volumes, rapid provisioning in databases, without taking a performance hit.

We like the data reduction rates. That has been really helpful. You get 4U of Pure Storage replacing something like two racks of spinning disks. One of the things that has contributed to that are the data reduction rates. Not only that, it helps dramatically speed the read coming back in, because you don't have to read it 400 times. Actually, the write doesn't hurt anything either because the write goes in once and then it gets deduplicated and that's that. It does help speed I/O because then everything is coming right off the front end of cache. Certainly, in terms of space, it's probably the most helpful.

What is most valuable?

  1. It's really fast
  2. It's fall-off-the-log easy to use. 

That is the strongest selling point. The ease of use is really nice.

In terms of the Predictive Performance Analytics, it certainly contributes to better overall performance and I'm a total fan of that. I've worked with some other flash storage vendors and the one that has the best overall offering, certainly, is Pure, the Analytics is part of it, whereas some of the other storage vendors haven't had as strong an offering in predictive analytics.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The only time that we had problems with it was that there was a bug in the VVol implementation but, outside of that, it has been flawless. 

I'm assuming that the VVol implementation got fixed in the last little while. We ran into that last February, so it's been about eight months. I suspect that they probably have it resolved by now. Other than that, it's bulletproof.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have never, ever run up against a bottleneck. It's a piece of cake to scale it. You plug in more and you keep going until you max out your bandwidth and then you put another storage controller in, a Fibre Channel controller, and go some more.

How are customer service and technical support?

The guys in technical support are great. They're on the money. Our client, Chapman University, is on a first-name basis with the Pure support guys. You get really good interactive support from the Pure team.

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

I think our client, Chapman University, was on Dell EMC before they went to Pure. What I'm about to say are some of my impressions, I don't know that I know all the details that went into the decision. I think that they were just done with Dell EMC and that Dell EMC's all-flash solution was an afterthought, where Pure's was engineered from the ground up to be all-flash, as opposed to bolted on after the fact.

From what I saw at Chapman University, they wanted the increase in performance plus the decrease in power utilization and space and cooling in their data center. That dramatically mitigated a whole bunch of data center issues they had before. It didn't take nearly as much power to power it or to cool it and they reduced their footprint significantly.

How was the initial setup?

I saw a little bit of the initial setup at Chapman University, and it didn't look all that complicated. It appeared to be pretty straightforward.

What was our ROI?

There Is ROI has come in saving personnel time, a lot of time. That pushes into the DBA staff, the DevTest staff, and the production folks, because we got their stuff to run 50 percent faster. We took it off the old physical hardware and virtualized it and got it to go 50 percent faster than the physical hardware running against Pure Storage.

That made it easy to rapidly provision DevTest environments. Things like that, that used to take hours and hours and hours, can now be automated down to one click of the button by the requester and another one or two by the approver. Then it just runs in the background and it's done in a couple of minutes.

It's hard to quantify the reduction in the total cost of ownership, but it's there, absolutely, particularly in the VS lab context and the channel context as well. It's so much faster, that not only has it eliminated the time that DBAs would have spent otherwise, doing tasks that take a long time to do - things like backup and the like - but it has also helped on the front end because you can do development and DevTest provisioning so much more quickly. It's hard to roll that into traditional TCO, but it's certainly part of it when you look at the entire organization.

Regarding finding the TCO of flash to be lower than SSD implementations, I'm not sure I could quantify that.

What other advice do I have?

Do it. I have zero reservations about recommending Pure to anyone who is looking for some really good all-flash. Pure is the way to go, for sure.

All-flash is great whenever you can get it but I really like the Pure offering. It's very robust. I heard the "chief scientist," the brains of the deal, explain how some of that stuff works at the bit and byte level and, being a computer science major, I thought that was the coolest thing since sliced bread.

Pure works pretty well as is. I've been so busy using all the good stuff that it already does. I'm sure it can be improved, but we haven't got that far yet. We've been milking what it already does.

I hesitate to give it a ten out of ten because I'm sure it can be improved somehow. In terms of how it could be improved, I don't know. I'm pretty happy with it as it stands. Pure is the best thing that I have seen in that space so far, hands-down, bar none.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.

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