Pure Storage Looks to All-Flash Data Center

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For enterprises undertaking the transition to a virtualized environment, flash memory can be an alluring proposition. Faster, smaller and more efficient than traditional disk technologies, flash makes a convincing case.

But there’s a problem. Flash is expensive.

That’s where Pure Storage is looking to make its mark. The two-year-old startup offers a flash storage array that, along with its Purity operating system, boasts a solution that delivers enterprise-caliber storage at a price point geared to lure away companies still invested in disk storage or a hybrid disk-flash model.

“The single biggest enterprise pain point that Pure Storage resolves is the cost of flash memory,” said Matt Kixmoeller, vice president of products at Pure Storage.

Pure Storage aims to address the squeeze affecting many companies, where they are at once tasked with handling a ballooning volume of data and increasing performance requirements, while also trying to cut or cap budgets for equipment, real estate, energy and other costs.

The company notes that servers and networks have fared comparatively better than the storage sector in terms of following the Moore’s Law cost/capacity curve. however, storage has been hindered by either high-cost flash or slower disk technologies.

“In this next decade, it’s going to be storage’s turn to face disruptive change,” CEO Scott Dietzen explained in a video post on the company’s website. “Just imagine if you could get the performance of flash at the price point of performance disk.”

Its value proposition, then, is to deliver an all-flash storage array that offers a 10-fold advantage over performance disks in both power and space efficiency and speed at a price point that compares favorably by measure of gigabyte stored.

Kixmoeller pointed to the phenomenon of server virtualization, which with its attendant spike in random I/O has proven to be a drag on disk storage, as distinct workloads are funneled through the same “pipe.” Random I/O, Kixmoeller said, results in a 95 percent hard drive inefficiency rate.

“So while customers have seen tremendous ROI via server consolidation, they then have to turn around and give a big chunk of those savings back to their storage vendor. As end users continue to virtualize more performance-intensive applications,” he said, “disk will only get further and further behind.”

With its total focus on flash, Pure Storage is aiming to guide the storage industry into its next phase. But with that lofty goal–weaning IT shops away from disk–the company is tasked with convincing customers to rethink their approach both to storage itself and the related impact on software and user experience.

“The storage industry is steeped in rotating disk language, structures and lore,” said Kixmoeller. “After all, the first hard drive was released to the market in 1956, and there hasn’t been a better way to store data for the last 50 years–until now.”

Pure Storage only recently came out of stealth mode. In August, it announced a Series C round of venture funding led by Redpoint Ventures, Greylock Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures and angel investors, in which the company raised $30 million. All told, Pure Storage has raised $55 million in capital investments. Samsung closed the most recent round, which it joined as a component of a wider partnership with Pure Storage.

The company’s flagship product, the FlashArray FA-300 Series, is slated to enter general availability later this year.

Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here

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