Flash Storage Upgrade: My Experience With Pure Storage

We’ve recently completed a project to upgrade storage which runs our database clusters of relational and OLAP data.  The experience has been delightful enough to be worthy of a blog post.

Our previous device, EMC VNX-5300, which is a hybrid of flash and spinning disk has been struggling with the load our systems generate.  SolarWinds and Newrelic, aside from performance monitor, have been good friends in helping us to identify IO as our primary bottleneck.

It’s been just a little over three years since our storage upgrade to VNX-5300 but the playing field has changed significantly since then.  A few days into research, we realized that for the same money we paid three years ago for our hybrid solution, we could now get more storage and ALL of it flash.  Software is the reason all SSD arrays are now cheaper than legacy spinning disk or hybrid systems. Some bright minds figured out a way to compress and deduplicate data layered on storage devices resulting in a significant reduction of actual data being stored.  More about actual ratios and performance in my next post.

Picking up the latest copy of Gartner report and running some Google searches helped us zero in on a few leaders in the storage space.  Given that we’ve had a successful relationship with EMC in the past, it topped our list.  SolidFire which has been acquired by NetApp was our second contender.  Considering that both SolidFire and our CTO are out of Boulder, CO we had a personal connection with this company.  Pure Storage got on our list for several reasons.  The company has been listed as the first to sell all flash arrays, dating back to 2009 hence capturing significant market share.  Customer satisfaction with the products and support appeared to be through the roof.  Given stringent time and budget constraints we set off to select our next partner.  EMC’s proposal came in very interesting after a significant discount and promotion but lacked references and felt like a Beta product.  NetApp’s product was the most expensive of the three and lacked flexibility with the amount of storage that we could get.  Their offering with the least amount of storage we could buy was way more than we needed.  A gradual expansion of their array, also was not an option. It would have required a significant investment for a sizable chunk of additional storage all of which would not have been necessary.

Pure was the fastest to provide customer references in Colorado and Florida.  Within a week, we had a chance to go through a list of our questions with people in charge of storage upgrades in their companies.  Needless to say all three companies we surveyed were more than satisfied with their selection of the storage vendor. The feedback we got from one customer was that they also did their own research during a six month period going through the same storage providers and concluded that Pure was the way to go. Interesting enough all three customers we interviewed had switched from EMC to Pure. Some of them now were repeat customers of Pure, upgrading additional systems.

Once we decided to go with Pure and issued a PO, the device arrived at our office within ten days.  We had a Pure engineer installing it in our production data center within three days.

Thanks to Dennis Friedley of Pure Storage and George Orr of Corus360, the execution of this transaction from engagement to setup and configuration has been more efficient and straight forward than any other.  As mentioned earlier, more on performance of the array to follow.