Pure Storage FlashArray Review

It takes drastically less time to manage and administer


What is our primary use case?

As a customer, we use them as our Tier 1 storage arrays. It has been amazing. It's extremely fast, reliable, and resilient.

How has it helped my organization?

We have done a lot of different things with Pure Storage. We have included some real-time analytics that we developed for our eCommerce website and run those on FlashBlade. We used FlashBlade as it was the only storage platform fast enough to keep up with that data flow.

We are able monitor I/O, latency, read/write, capacity used, and all the different metrics that the Pure gives us the ability to monitor.

It definitely affected the ability to capacity plan, but in a good way. We have all the visibility into the capacity, forecasting, and all the metrics that the solution provides us with.

It takes drastically less time to manage and administer the solution. We would have about three or four people who were dedicated just to work on storage with only one guy who could actually do the Hitachi replication, because it used old archaic technology called HORCM files. In the Pure Storage realm, this is not true. All our junior partners can administer the storage arrays. It is simple and easy to use. We don't have to dedicate a whole team of full time people to work on it.

What is most valuable?

When I was a customer, the most valuable feature is the ease of use. 

It is the whole package: The ease of use, cost, and the ability for it to perform at a level that traditional storage arrays just can't compete with.

It simplifies storage. In the old days, you had to go and decide what ports were going to go to what workloads, which was a lot of work. You had to set up replication. Now, everything is just a few clicks away. It is set up exactly like you would want it to be. That is what it does. It simplifies and optimizes the solution.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see some improvements on the FlashBlade side around the CIFS space support. I am not super familiar with all the different NAS protocols that they run on their box, but there could be some improvements made on SMB CIFS side.

Some of the FlashBlade protocols could use a little love. There are obviously some new enhancements. There is no dedupe on the FlashBlade. It is compression only. There is no replication. So, Pure is going to try to partner that product with ObjectEngine to bring in some of those features, and I'm not sure how all of that will work out. I'm not familiar with ObjectEngine yet, but we'll see how it goes.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is great. We have had no issues. We have never had an issue or outage that has been related to Pure Storage.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We decided how big of a failure domain that we wanted to entertain. We decided to split three into what could have been one single controller interface system. However, at some point, if we lose 500 terabytes, what does that do to our company? Now, we have things like active clusters which mitigate a lot of these issues, but people still need to be wary about how they design their failure domains.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support is great. The support has been amazing.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

We thought we we going to go with the new version of Hitachi, and everything was going to fine: Lift, shift and replace with the new one. What we started doing was exploring the marketplace, then figuring out, "Is this the best option for us? Could it be simpler?" Because the Hitachi was a tank, but it was not simple to use. It performed very well, but it did not perform like an all-flash array does.

The analytics are great. Previously, we had Hitachi solutions, and it was very hard to understand what was happening with the array. One of the great things about the Pure Storage solution is you can instantly know just by logging in or checking Pure1. You can do it on your phone. Hitachi doesn't have anything like that. It's amazing that you can get this type of visibility from your storage array. All the analytics feed up into Pure1, and you can just see them whenever you want.

It used to be that people would buy Pure Storage arrays and they would use it for a single instance application, like an Oracle database. We never did that. We used the product to replace our entire giant Hitachi G1000 storage arrays. Everything that we had went to the Pure Storage arrays. We had three giant M70s that are now X90s which house everything the company was running when I was a customer.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very simple. They came in before lunch, and we had it up after lunch. Then, we were already starting to move workloads to it after that.

We have upgraded firmware controllers and physical controllers. It works exactly like they say it does, which is the best part. You don't even notice. Business runs as usual. You can replace a controller, it fails over to the other controller, and everything runs smooth as butter.

What about the implementation team?

We used Sirius Computer Solutions for the deployment. They have been our partner and VAR for a long time. They know our environment very well and were with us every step of the way.

What was our ROI?

From a footprint perspective, we used to have big giant racks of storage on both sides of the data center. We would have to plan and have a hole where the future one would go. Now, we don't have to do that at all. They are just sitting in the rack right next to it.

We have a seen a reduction in TCO. It is definitely a cost-effective solution for us. We have seen ROI.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We have an Evergreen Storage subscription. We like it a lot. We recently upgraded from the M-series to the X-series FlashArrays. We used the Evergreen Storage solution and expanded our footprint.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Hitachi, who was our current vendor. We evaluated Dell EMC for the VMAX and XtremIO. Then, we evaluated Pure Storage. 

We are also a NetApp customer, so we evaluated them. However, we don't run any block storage on NetApp, only files.

What other advice do I have?

Do a fair evaluation. Be objective, look at the different technologies, and use the technologies. See what they look like and what you will to have to deal with when you're using the products. It's easy to make a decision based on bullet points, but it's hard to make a decision on actual use of the actual technology.

We are a Chef shop, so we integrate it into Chef and VMware, vRA, and vRO. We also use all of the plug-ins. The integration is easy, simple, and seamless.

For most of the workloads, the solution’s inline deduplication and compression has performed fine. We had a few workloads that were already precompressed, so when you put those workloads on top of a storage system that does compression and dedupe, they don't compress again. So, they tend to eat up a little storage. Therefore, we specifically targeted some third-party applications, like IDERA SQL Safe, and tried to remove them from the environment. This way Pure Storage could then compress and dedupe those SQL backup files.

We are from Texas. Power is like ten cents a kilowatt. Texans apparently don't care that power is cheap. From a power requirement, it definitely has used less power, but we didn't use that as a metric to look at.

Biggest lesson learned: Why didn't I switch sooner?

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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