Pure Storage brings hard disk pricing to Flash storage

Pure Storage CEO Scott Dietzen

Pure Storage CEO Scott Dietzen

With all the excitement around Flash storage in the data center these days, I wasn’t keen to hear about yet another startup that promised to revolutionize SSDs. But with a hot team behind it and the promise to change the economics and infrastructure around storage, I decided to talk to Pure Storage. The company today came out of stealth mode and has raised a $30 million Series C round from Redpoint Ventures, Greylock Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures with Samsung participating as a strategic investor.

Om covered Pure Storage a few months back, primarily because its founding team comes from Zimbra, Veritas and Sun. Plus it counts as angels, the founders behind VMware and DataDomain — both infrastructure companies that contributed big technologies to enterprise IT. Pure hopes to do the same thing by offering a storage array for enterprises comprised solely of Flash memory. Flash memory provides much faster access to data than hard drives, but is far more expensive. However, Pure CEO Scott Dietzen says the Pure array brings the costs of Flash to lower than $5 per gigabyte, which is less than what a similar product from EMC or NetApp that uses hard drives would cost, and far less than a hybrid product such as what’s on offer from Violin Memory or Nimbus Nimble would.

Pure also introduces a new product category for those interested in Flash —which is just about everyone. While there are plenty of webscale companies deploying Flash memory in servers using products from Fusion-io and even larger players such EMC trying to deploy Flash memory as part of combo storage arrays along with hard disk drives, Dietzen claims Pure offers the first all Flash enterprise-class array, however Nimbus also offers an all-Flash product. He says the cost of using Flash is lower than hard drives because of the software Pure runs to shrink the amount of data stored in memory. Pure combines technologies such as de-duplication and compression to shrink data so a little Flash can go a long way.

Dietzen says the product works especially well for virtualized servers and other enterprise workloads, such as running Oracle databases. Here’s the marketing slide:

But beyond the hype, if Pure can do what it says it can do, it doesn’t just open the door for widespread Flash adoption inside corporate data centers, it flings it open and drags enterprises right on through. And what about those companies such as Facebook currently using the SSDs inside servers either through products like Fusion-io’s or through attached SSDs that run software to make them easily addressable by distributed nodes? Could webscale operators turn toward storage arrays and Pure?

Unsurprisingly, Dietzen believes they could, especially because such an array makes it easier for distributed nodes to access the storage but also because Pure can make Flash so much cheaper than current offerings. I’m eager to see what the rest of the community thinks.

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