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Stretch clustering fits Pure customers' wish lists

All-flash array vendor Pure Storage added multisite replication between FlashArray and FlashBlade systems with ActiveCluster stretch clustering, which is included in the Purity 5 OS.

Pure Storage Inc. customers had a common reaction to the all-flash vendor's addition of an active failover cluster for multisite replication: It's about time.

The vendor added ActiveCluster stretch clustering as a standard feature in the Purity 5 operating system, giving customers the option to replicate copies between all-flash FlashArray and FlashBlade systems. They also may choose to use existing network filers or Amazon Web Services as a cloud target. The vendor launched Purity ActiveCluster last week at its Pure Accelerate 2017 user conference in San Francisco.

ActiveCluster supports replication between metro data centers up to 150 miles apart. Customers can opt to asynchronously send snapshots to a third global data center.

Rajiv Gupta, senior director of technology operations for San Francisco-based affiliate marketer Ebates Inc., wasn't at the Pure Accelerate press conference introducing Purity ActiveCluster. Gupta learned of it when a reporter asked for his reaction.

"They're adding multisite replication? I didn't know that. That's great news," said Gupta, who manages Ebates' Pure Storage FlashArray implementation, which four years ago supplanted Hewlett Packard Enterprise 3PAR disk-based arrays.

"We don't have a dedicated storage administrator. My VMware administrator handles the storage. Simplicity of storage is very important to us," Gupta added.

FlashArray//X is the latest generation of the vendor's block array that uses solid-state drives. Pure Storage also sells FlashBlade, which handles both file and object data, and Pure Storage FlashStack reference designs through a partnership with server giant Cisco.

Meeting the competition

Pure Storage didn't add stretch clustering out of mere kindness, though. The lack thereof hurt its competitive standing.

This gives Pure another software feature to compete better against Dell EMC.
Henry Baltazarresearch director for storage, 451 Research

"They were at risk of getting dropped from [request for proposals] RFPs or not being included at all," said Henry Baltazar, a research director of storage at 451 Research, referring to Pure's lack of stretch clustering. "They needed active clustering to continue hammering away at the tier-one market. This gives Pure another software feature to compete better against Dell EMC."

Danh Duong, lead storage and backup administrator for the University of California, Davis, hailed Pure's decision to bundle stretch clustering in the package price for FlashArray. Other vendors usually offer it as a separate software license.

"In the past, it has typically been very expensive to do active-active clustering. It could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars [in licensing fees]. Pure is saying it's going to include it in the cost," Duong said.

Formula 1 racing team Mercedes AMG Petronas generates approximately 300 GB to 400 GB of trackside data during a single race. Pre- and post-race activities add to the data density, including simulations at its factories.

To protect that data in real time, the Mercedes F1 teams deploys DataCore as a virtualization layer atop its two Pure Storage FlashArray storage boxes, which leverages Pure's internal snapshots.

"Putting out ActiveCluster is fundamental to our planning in 2018," said Matt Harris, head of IT for Mercedes F1. "We expect to save hundreds of thousands of pounds in software maintenance. We won't need that software, since Pure is giving us ActiveCluster for free."

Next Steps

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