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You'll never guess what people use Pure's FlashBlade to do

Pure Storage is finding a use case for its FlashBlade array that no one expected when the all-flash system for unstructured data launched in 2016.

Brian Schwarz, VP of product management for  FlashBlade, said customers are using FlashBlade as a backup target as well as primary scale-out unstructured data. He said Pure has replaced the backup appliance market leader, Dell EMC Data Domain, in many cases.

Who would use an expensive all-flash system to do the job usually reserved for cheap bulk hard disk drive storage?

“People with tight recovery times,” Schwarz said during an interview last week at the Flash Memory Summit. “It’s expensive, but if your business is at stake, it’s a worthwhile investment.”

Schwarz pointed to an evolution in the backup appliance market, and said Pure can be part of that.

“Startups in this space are shaking up the status quo in backup,” he said, referring to Cohesity and Rubrik. “There are some big changes coming in that area.”

He admitted no one at Pure saw backup as a use case for FlashBlade when it launched. Of course, Pure also also has customers using FlashBlade it for its intended purpose – high performance NAS and object storage. Early adopters are also using it for artificial intelligence applications, and Pure is going after that market with its AIRI system that integrates Nvidia DGX-1 AI supercomputers with FlashBlade.

Schwarz said we can expect more AIRI configurations. “We’re not done with AIRI,” he said. “AI’s not a finished topic.”

FlashBlade is still a small piece of Pure’s revenue compared to its original FlashArray block storage platform. But Schwarz said having FlashArray in the market has helped to get customers to look at FlashBlade. FlashBlade uses different core software than FlashArray and incorporates built-in Amazon S3 support for cloud object storage. But FlashBlade also borrows some features from FlashArray such Pure1 predictive analytics and compression.

“Data reduction has always been our secret sauce” going to back to the early days of FlashArray,” he said.

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