Is there a Dual-Storage Infrastructure Future?

Purestorage Flashblade logos

Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2016

Talking to the press this week, Pure founder and chief architect John Hayes has laid out his vision for the future of on-site storage hardware. Announcing the imminent release of a scale-out NAS and object system named FlashBlade, Hayes claimed that this new product had a much larger potential market than their FlashArray product range.

The difference? The type of data being stored. According to Hayes, unstructured data is growing at 40% every year – and it is this space that the FlashBlade range has been designed for. Structured data on the other hand grows at just 10% annually; databases and virtual machines are apparently less “hungry” capacity-wise, hence the far lower growth rate.

A divergence in infrastructure

According to Hayes, traditional arrays simply cannot handle the load of thousands of servers – even if they are filled with solid-state drives. Tellingly, nor can Pure’s own FlashArray range. 

Which is where the predicted divergence occurs. Hayes believes that the traditional IT team can be persuaded towards FlashArray for data storage and archiving, while the IT engineering team will be attracted to FlashBlade for its superior access speeds to support line-of-business applications.

One stumbling block – vendor lock-in

Although the Pure approach makes sense on a technical level, there is one potential problem. In an age where businesses are building best of breed storage environments using open technologies and generic components (including post warranty equipment), Pure’s products have a sting in their tail. To deliver the stated performance benefits, FlashBlade uses proprietary flash hardware – and there are also questions about whether the platform is a true scale-out system. 

An interesting approach to a major problem

Regardless of whether your business adopts Pure systems or not, the dual storage approach to structured and unstructured data is interesting. By re-using older hardware to support structured data operations, your business could significantly improve performance and lower operating costs at the same time. 

And by moving front-line applications and servers to super-fast Flash arrays, this greatly reduces the amount of capital spend required to keep systems current.

Will such a two-phase approach to storage take off? Time will tell. But in the meantime, you can contact the CDS team to learn more about putting post-warranty hardware back to work in your storage infrastructure to yield some of these benefits now.