This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Pure Storage Accelerate 2019 conference and news guide

Pure Storage analytics, cloud move to forefront

All-flash vendor Pure Storage moves to bolster its software and cloud features with upgraded analytics, block storage in AWS and a Data Hub for AI workflows.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Pure Storage this week enhanced analytics and performance monitoring for VMware, made its Cloud Block Store available and re-branded its storage-as-a-service program.

Pure1 VM Analytics Pro makes it easier to map individual virtual machines to an underlying bare-metal Pure Storage all-flash array. Pure1 Pro software is available as a separate license from Pure's Purity operating system.

Nimble Storage was the first storage vendor to successfully introduce cloud-based predictive analytics, which since has become a baseline array feature for most major storage vendors. Predictive storage analytics can aid capacity planning and help head off hardware failure.

Customers at the flash vendor's Pure Accelerate annual user conference this week reacted favorably to the Pure Storage analytics upgrade.

"I haven't got it yet, but I want it," said Steve Culy, a senior systems engineer at Navis, a company that automates operations at more than 300 marine ports around the world.

Navis beta tested VM Analytics Pro, and Culy said he was able to compare Pure analytics against third-party analytics tools. He said Pure1 cut troubleshooting from hours to about 15 minutes. "It's easy to use and focuses on the storage," Culy said. "It allowed to us to find the trouble real fast."

Brandon Nguyen, a senior systems engineer with IT services provider Direct Technology, based in Sacramento, Calif., said the upgraded Pure analytics should streamline the process for identifying performance issues.

"You're going to look for issues with either the storage, the networking or the memory. Once we get hold of this, being able to get all those analytics in one page will be extremely helpful," Nguyen said.

Pure Storage analytics launched in 2017. Pure Storage said it encompasses more than 50,000 virtual machines (VMs) globally and generates more than 50 TB of data per day. Pure1 scans the VM tier and returns suggestions for optimizing performance of sluggish VMs.

Pure1 Analytics Pro includes three years of Data retention. A free version of the Pure Storage Analytics software retains data for seven days.

The paid version gives customers a workload planner "that comes from understanding the potential of each array," said Shawn Rosemarin, a Pure vice president of worldwide engineering.

Pure1 Analytics encompasses more than 50,000 machines globally and generates more than 50 TB of data per day, Rosemarin said.

Evergreen greyed out, AI Data Hub phased in

FlashArray is Pure Storage's flagship block array, and accounts for the lion's share of Pure's revenue. Pure FlashBlade is a scale-out array that provides massive parallelism of unstructured data. FlashBlade handles file and object data and also provides the framework for Pure AIRI, a reference design for big data analytics built with Nvidia supercomputers and Arista Networks gear.

Although a pioneer in ultrafast all-flash storage hardware when it launched 10 years ago, Pure Storage has placed greater emphasis on storage software since Charlie Giancarlo took over as CEO in 2017.

The biggest manifestation of that shift is Pure Storage Cloud Block Store in Amazon Web Services, which was made generally available this week. Cloud Block Store is Pure's software stack written to run in AWS the same on premises.

"From an IT user's perspective, what that gives me is physical arrays side by side with Pure in the cloud. If I have any kind of automation or scripting, or if I need to train my storage [for AI], it looks exactly the same. No one else is doing this yet. The only storage vendor with a comparable product is IBM with Cloud Object Store," said Steve McDowell, a senior analyst for storage at Moor Insights and Strategy, based in Austin.

Eric Burgener, IDC storage research vice president, said Pure's cloud strategy is different from competitors. Pure does not build its cloud platform around hyper-convergence, and it does not offer its own cloud.

"The major enterprise storage vendors are punching up their cloud integration as well, so any differences between them and Pure are mostly just a matter of degree," Burgener said. "Pure won't offer its own cloud, like Dell EMC and NetApp do, and they don't think hyper-cloud infrastructure is ever going to break out of the small to medium enterprise."

The Pure Evergreen initiative allows customers to upgrade FlashArray and FlashBlade controllers once every three years. Pure's consumption-based Evergreen Storage Service has been rebranded as Pure Storage as a Service, which extends across FlashArray block and FlashBlade NAS arrays.

Pure said the rebranding was done to eliminate confusion for customers. The company is keeping the upgrade path for controllers.

Pure AI Data Hub was previewed this week as a way to build a container-based data pipeline for managing AI projects that are in different phases of development. The data hub concept allows customers to pick and choose which Pure Storage array they need to meet the differing service levels. Pure is developing a software reference design that integrates Kubernetes orchestration.

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