Pure Storage FlashArray Review

Identify the size and volume that you want and the host that you want to deploy it to, then it just shows up and works

What is our primary use case?

In our company, we implemented a Pure Storage FlashArray for our VM virtualized environment. 

We do have vCenter integrated with Pure Storage. We use that application to deploy virtual volumes on our Pure Storage solution. We are still in the beginning stages, so we only have four virtual systems running on it. However, in the coming months, we will be migrating the bulk of all of our VMs over to vCenter and Pure Storage.

How has it helped my organization?

The inline deduplication and compression have exceeded our expectations. The rep from Pure Storage kept promising us 4:1, and we were very skeptic about getting that. We were anticipating mainly getting 1.5:1. So far, with the VMs, we have been running closer to 5:1 deduplication and compression, which is amazing to us.

It's reduced our overhead management time on storage, since it is so simple to get in and just provision a volume, present it to the host, and then you are done. With the old HPE system, there were quite a few more steps to have to deal with. Therefore, it has definitely reduced our management.

What is most valuable?

The simplicity is the most valuable feature. I do not have to deal with how to provision RAIDs or manage disks. I just plugin my disk groups, and it does it all on the back-end. I just identify the size and volume that I want and the host that I want to deploy it to, then it just shows up and works. It has been incredibly simple to use, and it is incredibly fast.

Simpler is always better in my mind. Just making it quicker and easier to deploy, then also making it so that there is less chance of error. 

What needs improvement?

We did have one hiccup with the integration of vCenter. When we were installing Pure Storage, we were using vCenter 6.7, which defaults to the HTML5 Web Client. The current plugin for Pure Storage doesn't show up in that client at all. You have to go and use the legacy FlexFlash client to see the Pure Storage plugin in vCenter.

I know that Pure Storage is working on this. They already told us, "Hereon out, we will be developing and only deploying HTML5 plugins." However, it's currently only in beta testing right now from what they've said. Getting that plugin out would definitely help us, because we don't have flash, or use it very actively. If we had that plugin in sooner rather that later, it would be awesome.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have only had it installed for a few weeks.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

To early to comment.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are hoping that we get to scale up, at some point. My initial impression is that it should be very easy for us to expand just by replacing the disk groups or by adding a shelf. As far as my impressions of being able to scale, I think it will be pretty simple. Until we get to that point, I don't know.

We haven't really seen much on the performance side, because we only have five VMs in there right now. I can definitely say that it is extremely fast. It is much faster than our legacy HPE spinning disks. However, until we get a lot more servers on it, I won't know if we going to hit a bottleneck or cap it out at all. I don't think we will, but until we get more on there, I won't know.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very easy to work with. 

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

We are replacing legacy HPE EVA and legacy Hyper-V systems moving to VMware with Pure Storage, as our storage solution.

We have a very old HPE EVA system. We knew that we needed an upgrade, because our system is 10 years old and out of support. We brought in a number of consultants to talk to us about whether we should upgrade our Hyper-V system or move to VMware. Thre or four consultants recommended (almost all of them) moving to all-flash. They highlighted Pure Storage as one of the industry leaders in all-flash storage. That is why we started working with Pure. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward. We had a Pure Storage Rep onsite to help us install it. They had their installation guide with the steps outlining how to do this and that: x, y, z type steps. It only took us two hours to get it out-of-the-box, in the rack, turned on, added to vCenter, and have our first VM on the system. 

What about the implementation team?

We had a Pure Storage rep come onsite and help us install the system. We had it up and running in just two hours. Then, he turned us around and had us enter a ticket to do a firmware upgrade on our system, because it was three versions old. 

The technical support was very responsive. They emailed us and scheduled it a couple days out. They talked us through how to enable the Remote Assist tunnel. We had that up and running, then the day came for the upgrade. They emailed us and asked if they could continue. Then 20 minutes later, they emailed saying, "Okay it is done. We will monitor it for 24 hours. Let us know if you have any problems." It was just amazing to me, because I don't have to touch it. I don't have to look at it. We had no downtime nor interruption to service, and yet the upgrade was done.

What was our ROI?

We have already seen ROI.

We have upgraded our legacy Fibre Channel system from 8 gig up to 32 gig with our Pure Storage. By just copying the first few VMs off to that, I was floored at how fast it would write and read to that system. I am really excited to see once I get more VMs on there how well it will handle all of it.

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

We just barely bought our Pure Storage, so we haven't been able to use Evergreen Storage subscription at all yet. However, it's a really cool concept. As long as we maintain our subscription, we will get new controllers every three years and really never have a forklift upgrade like we currently are doing. Just that future-proofing is an ease off of my mind to know that I won't have to do what I'm doing right now again.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did evaluate the HPE 3PAR and HPE all-flash systems, because we were a legacy HPE environment, where everything we had was HPE. Beyond that, we didn't really investigate any other vendors. We read some white papers on Dell EMC, but we didn't talk to anybody about them.

Pure was very responsive when we talked to them when we were just investigating on what to buy. They were always the first ones to get back to us and talk to us. They came onsite multiple times to help us with any questions that we had. That level of customer experience was really helpful in making a decision.

We decided to go with Pure Storage more for the Evergreen Storage subscription. With Pure Storage, it was a little bit more to initially get it in, but then you have the Evergreen Storage subscription, which is essentially less than the support on HPE, and that came with the upgrades down the road. HPE subscription support would only cover failures. It didn't have any upgrades built in to it. So, if five years down the road, we went with the HPE system then we would have had to buy whole new storage array to upgrade it. That really played a lot into us wanting to go with Pure Storage. We didn't want to have to do this multiple times.

What other advice do I have?

I have made recommendations to friends who work for other companies that are looking for storage right now to just go ahead and buy Pure Storage. From what I have seen, it will beat out any other storage solution.

From the performance that I've seen, the simplicity of how to use it, the responsiveness, and customer experience, it is one of the best companies that I have worked with so far.

I was actually branded as a SAN environment when we got Pure Storage. For me, it was learning that a SAN environment wasn't necessarily as complex as I thought it was. You have vendors out there, like Pure Storage, who makes things super simple and easy to use. 

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