Feeds

Pure Storage to dethrone 'evil' hard disk

'Long live flash!'

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Comment The problems with networked storage is the hard drive. It's evil – nothing can be done to fix its primary latency and seek problems except by giving up on them and going flash. That's Pure Storage's preferred option, and it's betting the farm on it.

The company is a stealth-mode startup with impressive credentials and a simple technology hook: build networked flash storage for primary data that replaces hard-pressed hard-disk drive arrays.

Pure Storage was founded in 2009 by John Colgrove, who includes a founding-engineer stint at Veritas in his CV, having spent 20 years at the company, and John Hayes, who spent time in the office of the CTO at Yahoo! working on reliability in distributed systems.

The startup has three venture capital backers: Sutter Hill - where Colgrove was an entrepreneur-in-residence – Greylock, and Leslie Ventures, which is the vehicle of Mark Leslie, the founding chairman and CEO of Veritas. Last August, Pure Storage raised $18.4m from the three. That took total funding to around $25m, with about $6.6m coming from earlier angel investors.

The angels included VMare founders Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum, ex–Data Domain CEO Frank Slootman, Bill Coleman – who founded and was a CEO of BEA Systems – and Sanjay Poonen, a senior SAP executive.

The Pure Storage website talks about the advantages of flash compared to disk in random read situations, which are exacerbated by increased I/O coming from virtual servers. The site also lists interoperability and technology partners Brocade, Emulex, Cisco, QLogic, and Mellanox, which provide coverage of Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and InfiniBand storage-networking technologies.

We're told to expect a launch later this year, and that Pure Storage technology is currently taking part in beta tests with a number of customers.

What can we deduce about the technology? In a posting on the company blog, MIchael Cornwell talks about flash data fade: "Data fade is what occurs when information stored in a flash cell departs over time, thereby leaving the information unreadable."

Cornwell continues: "Storage systems that are optimized for NAND move and refresh information, constantly and consistently, to ensure that data fade stays manageable. This is a key difference between a storage system designed for disk and a storage system designed for flash. By taking the focus off data retention and putting it on maintaining the balance between retention/fade, storage systems today can successfully dispel the myth that flash fails after a predetermined number of write cycles. NAND flash, now more than ever, is truly reliable for enterprise workloads. Long live flash."

This thinking indicates we're not looking at SSDs that are pretending to be hard-disk drives. That would put Pure Storage in direct competition with every enterprise storage-array vendor stuffing SSDs into disk drive slots – marketing madness for a startup.

Pure Storage will deliver technology that stores primary data with a predominantly random read nature in flash, relegating sequential primary data and secondary data to disk. Workloads that are expected to benefit from a Pure Storage boost are virtual-server infrastructures, virtual-desktop infrastructures, relational databases, and NoSQL with Hadoop HBase, MongoDB, Couch DB, and Memcache DB highlighted as examples.

El Reg thinks that Pure Storage will have an in-line 1U or 2U rackmount enclosure holding flash chips and a software scheme that captures all disk I/Os and presents the flash box and back-end drive arrays as a single logical pool of storage. We don't know anything about any data placement software or tiering, a file or block focus, or deduplication or high-availability. Since this is an enterprise play, we'd hope there would be high availability in there somewhere.

The company has just appointed a VP of operations, which says it's going to start operating. It has a director of sales, Matt Burr, but not a VP of sales, which sort of says sales are not that high a priority at present. Based on this, we reckon there are still some months to go before Pure Storage emerges from stealth, because a channel sales model reaching into the enterprise is surely going to be mandatory.

The sales director's responsibilities include "ensuring the success of Pure Storage's earliest customers through the alpha and beta program as well as building out the Sales Organization." Perhaps Burr is the big sales hitter and will get the Pure Storage VP Sales role? Pure guesswork. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Attack of the clones: Oracle's latest Red Hat Linux lookalike arrives
Oracle's Linux boss says Larry's Linux isn't just for Oracle apps anymore
THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy
Now that's a LOT of porn or pirated movies. Or, you know, other consumer stuff
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.