On March 14, 2016, Pure Storage announced its new FlashBlade solid state array. Differentiated from its flagship product, FlashArray//m, FlashBlade focuses more on capacity and sharing data.

According to Pure Storage’s own press release, the FlashBlade, which consists of 15 proprietary “blades” each having 8-52TB of capacity can scale to 780TB raw; or roughly 1.6PB in a 4U chassis, as a result of 3:1 data reduction. Unlike FlashArray, FlashBlade does not use SSDs, it addresses the flash chips directly on the blade.

FlashBlade is also distinct in that it does not offer block storage, but instead, presents data through industry standard NFS and CIFS with object (S3) and HDFS protocols coming in the near future. The FlashBlade delivers roughly one tenth of the IOPS/TB compare to the FlashArray, and is designed for use cases such as home directories, and large depository of data is required.

A complete rack of FlashBlades would provide 16PB of flash storage.

In the latter case, IoT analytics would be the perfect use case. Data can be ingested or streamed into the FlashBlade, and since the data is shared, the data could be immediately analyzed by another application.

Other use cases would include large VDI implementations in which the compute cluster can host thousands of virtual desktops while still demanding the same level of performance from its storage.

A major part of the FlashBlade array is its operating system named Elasticity (see Figure 1). The design of the software enables it to add new protocols easily. Neuralytix believes that as OpenStack gains traction, it Pure Storage could add OpenStack support relatively quickly; or if/when Ceph gains enough momentum, it too could be implemented also.

Neuralytix expects FlashBlade to compete against systems such as NetApp’s all-flash FAS and EMC’s DSSD.

The inclusion of the object/S3 interface is important. It allows data to be ingested quickly from the cloud, or vice versa, allowing seamless dataflow between on-premise and cloud.

Elasticity software block diagram

Figure 1: Elasticity software block diagram (Pure Storage, 2016)

Neuralytix had previously advised Pure Storage in the past that it needed to be more than a single product company, and it has certainly come through with flying colors. Although no announcements have been made with respects to integrating FlashBlade with Pure Storage’s converged infrastructure FlashStack, Neuralytix believes that this is inevitable, and is merely a function of testing and demand.

FlashBlade also comes with Pure Storage’s unique Evergreen storage, in which Pure Storage will upgrade the hardware controllers every three years so long as the customer is under maintenance. FlashBlade can also be managed from Pure1, Pure Storage’s cloud-based management platform.

Neuralytix believes that with the introduction of the FlashBlade system, Pure Storage is poised to drive enterprises towards an all flash datacenter.