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Pure Storage launches highest performing FlashArray//XL

Pure Storage releases FlashArray//XL, its highest performance array that completes the puzzle for on-prem customer storage.

Pure Storage released FlashArray//XL, an array designed for the highest-performance use cases in the highest tier of storage.

The expansion of the Pure Storage array line is for mission-critical applications, including databases and containerized, cloud-native apps, according to the vendor. With Pure's data reduction, the FlashArray//XL has an effective capacity up to 5.78 PB in a 5U footprint. The vendor claims throughput of 36GBps and latency as low as 150 µs; it also stated a 70% higher IOPS over its FlashArray//X, without providing specific numbers.

The new array enables Pure Storage to go after new business, according to Eric Burgener, a senior analyst at IDC. Before, Pure Storage customers would have to use high-end arrays from outside vendors such as a Dell EMC PowerMax NVMe storage or Hitachi Vantara Virtual Storage Platform.

With the addition of FlashArray//XL, Pure increases its market potential, bringing with it a customer experience (CX) program that Burgener said "customers consistently love," to large enterprises.

"[The FlashArray//XL] lets Pure bring its CX value proposition to customers that, in the past, needed a bigger and more powerful storage system," he said.

Performance for Tier 0

This is Pure's first foray into Tier 0, often the most expensive level of storage that also requires the highest level of performance. The X90 was Pure's previous highest-performing array. Dan Kogan, vice president of product management at Pure Storage, said the performance boost is brought about by an all-new model for the FlashArray//XL.

Pure Storage FlashArray//XL released
Pure Storage FlashArray//XL is the vendor's highest-performing array yet.

Instead of traditional SSDs, Pure used its own DirectFlash modules, which it describes as a software-defined flash module. The module, announced in 2017, was built to address performance issues with SSDs, including bottlenecks and unpredictability due to growing complexity, according to a Pure blog post.

With FlashArray//XL, Pure is putting non-volatile random-access memory (NVRAM) directly on the DirectFlash module, Kogan said. Doing so increases the array's performance and enables companies to scale their storage and NVRAM more linearly, as adding storage equals more NVRAM. In a more traditional model, adding NVRAM close to the CPU is a separate process from adding flash and so doesn't automatically equate to an increase in performance. Putting both components on the module results in 20% higher density, less spread-out components, combined with a larger chassis of the XL, allowing for more fans and better cooling thus lowering operating costs from an energy and cooling standpoint.

From a resiliency perspective, like other arrays from Pure, the FlashArray//XL uses dual, active-active controllers that can be updated in place non-disruptively through Evergreen, the vendor's subscription service that updates equipment over time. Pure has also doubled the number of ports available for connected applications servers, Kogan said.

The FlashArray//XL fills out Pure's on-premises storage products, and its offer of different options depending on workloads -- the C series, for example, for capacity-optimized storage versus XL for optimized performance at scale -- may help customers consolidate onto one vendor, according to Kogan.

"FlashArray//XL helps customers span gaps in their legacy environment," he said.

Cloud-like experience with Pure Fusion

As customers seek out the benefits of the cloud on premises such as ease of use, storage vendors have begun to provide cloud-like offerings -- and that includes Pure.

In September, Pure brought cloud-like simplicity with Pure Fusion, which provides customers a choice of running Pure Storage on-premises or via a hyperscaler consumption model. Using Fusion, customers can pool large storage arrays into availability zones and create as many zones as they need, Kogan said. Fusion also enables customers to mix different array types such as FlashArray//C, //X, and now //XL.

Fusion provides a SaaS-based management plane that enables storage teams and end users to see available storage resources, even mixing array types, on premises and in the cloud regardless of what array they sit on, Kogan said.

Now Pure is combining FlashArray//XL with Pure Fusion to provide a high-performance array without adding complexity, according to Pure.

The Tier 0 array and how it's delivered opens up competition on the high-end array market, according to Burgener.

While FlashArray//XL is publicly being announced today, some customers purchased it in October 2021, according to Kogan. Pure Fusion started onboarding customers into the beta environment this week.

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