Pure Storage FlashArray Review

The ease of management has made it so easy that we don't have to have extra storage or systems people

What is our primary use case?

We use the FlashArray X20, M20, M10. We have regulations against cloud, so we're mostly on-Prem. However, we do use Office 365 for email and we have Azure for development on another team but I don't manage that team.

Our primary use case of this solution is to house data stores on virtual machines.

How has it helped my organization?

It helps us maintain uptime much better than other solutions we've used in the past and the support is extremely quick and responsive. 

The ease of management, cutting edge technology, and higher availability benefits our IT organization. 

We are running VMware on Pure. The main driver for this was the speed of the virtual machines and the ease of administration with Pure is pretty seamless.

The joint solution has helped my organization. Cody from Pure Storage has been a really big advocate for cutting edge technologies within Pure Storage. He's given us as a customer a lot of tools from his social media to help us do our jobs easier. That's been amazing. It's been awesome for us. The support's been great. Our SC has been great, and our sales reps have been great. Performance is awesome.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution are the speed, ease of use, administration, and the support model.

We have the VMware plugin for Pure storage. It's the plugin that allows us to create a data store. It's super simple but we use it. It's in vCenter. The integrations have helped by making it quicker to deploy data storage.

If we have a LUN that is ready to have a data store put on it, rather than us having to give access to certain people to create data stores, they can just do it directly from vCenter and they won't have to have access to the array. It makes it easier. It's a little faster.

What needs improvement?

From a software perspective, it's been great. They've done a lot of things with VM integration from the Pure side. I would love for them to have a hyper-converged solution.

The costs could be improved. They still have a very good value proposition. I'm not arguing that they're too expensive, but if they want to continue to increase market share, they're going to have to come up with better ways to get the cost down. The availability of QLC NAND is much cheaper, albeit at a higher latency.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is very high. It's been amazing. They do non-disruptive upgrades that I have never seen anything like in the industry. For us, we can do upgrades in the middle of the day. We wouldn't accept that kind of risk, but we've accepted a lot more risks than we should using Pure and I've never been let down.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is very good considering the architecture that they're built around, which is the scale-up architecture. It's very good.

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

Before Pure, we had EMC VNX, and we were having the entire array reboot and we would lose a server room at a remote casino. All VMs would go down and have to reboot because the entire array would reboot. That happened at least three or four times and then that's what made us decide to pay for what I would say is around triple the cost, just to guarantee that that doesn't happen. To my organization, money is less of the concern as the availability. Nobody wants to get that phone call. We had EMC, it was bad. Support wasn't great. I wouldn't say it was bad but it wasn't great. What put us over the top was that Pure is stable.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is insanely easy. It's so easy our sales guy can do it with Pure.

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller for the integration. The company was Pinnacle Business Solutions from Oklahoma city. It was pretty good. We were happy with it.

What was our ROI?

We absolutely have seen ROI in two areas. The ease of management has made it so easy that we don't have to have extra storage people or systems people. The data reduction has been very generous. We're getting roughly three and a half to one data reduction across all arrays. That's basically three VNXs right there, and three VNXs would cost more than a Pure FlashArray. That's a pretty decent return.

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

We have 16 or 18 arrays. We like to do the three-year support model so that we get Evergreen and therefore, we get free upgrades. We pay around more than 1.5 million dollars. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I wasn't a decision-maker in the decision-making process. Had I been, I would've considered Nimble All Flash Array. I wouldn't consider anything else. Everything else that I know of in the storage industry is not worth us having insanely low latency for that. That's not our number one concern.

What other advice do I have?

They're the leader in the industry and everyone's chasing them. They're a cloud-native array that no one's ever done and their storage is excellent. Even if they weren't one of the fastest arrays in the entire industry, I would use them for their support model and ease of use.

The advice I would give to someone considering this solution is to look past the sticker shock which is return on investment. I would look at data reduction. I would definitely buy into what people say about their support, which is excellent. I would say that your company, whether you realize it or not, is going to benefit from being industry-leading, pushing the edge from a technology perspective, the ease of management, administration, and even the setup. It is well worth it.

I would rate it a nine and a half out of ten. I would rate it that high simply because I think if they can take advantage of QLC NAND and bring the costs down into a different market, it would be perfect. If they wanted to do a hyper-converged solution with this type of support that they have, they would be unbeatable. They're already unbeatable, but QLC NAND is going to bring the costs down for this all-flash architecture, and if you can cut the price of half of the flash array, you can be selling to small, medium business much quicker. It would be fantastic. 

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