The FlashBlade: All Flash Storage for Big Data Demands


April 27, 2016

We are in the midst of a storage revolution, but for decades before this, storage has been a fairly straightforward discipline in technology. Data is housed on spinning hard disk drives (HDD), and many of the advancements during that time involved making that same disk spin a little faster.

Now, flash storage has finally dropped in price enough to compete with spinning disk in full enterprise deployments, and the major players in the storage space are starting to take note. Pure Storage, who made their name with flash arrays, has just released the first all flash storage platform designed for big, cloud-scale data. It’s called the FlashBlade, and it presents some impressive opportunities for organizations to take advantage of their big data collections.


The Need for a New Approach to Big Data

Businesses in every market are beginning to see the possibilities of big data. Enormous pools of information have value waiting to be extracted if only this unstructured data can be harnessed. Before the FlashBlade, businesses seeking to do this would depend on legacy network-attached storage (NAS) filers and scale-out NAS filers, but these file servers faced several challenges.


  • Disk Architecture: NAS filer servers are architected to operate with the slow speeds of disk storage.
  • Limited Metadata Scale: Even if these servers are retrofitted to an all flash storage array, the limited metadata capabilities put a ceiling on performance.
  • Data Nodes: In order to manage such a large collection of data, NAS servers block data into nodes. These nodes then create data silos which further limit performance capabilities.


The bottom line is that a new solution is required to meet the big data needs and speeds necessary for the 21st century.


The FlashBlade

The FlashBlade compensates for the deficiencies of legacy solutions through its own engineering. Both the software and the hardware within the FlashBlade has been engineered by the Pure Storage team, and features three core elements:


  • The Blade: Available in both 8TB and 52TB capacities, the blade is the scaling component of the FlashBlade. Storage administrators need only purchase and install more blades to expand their capacity. The blades themselves are far more than simple SSD drives. Instead, they house compute power for metadata processing, RAM, and flash storage space for enhanced performance and protection of data.
  • Elasticity Scale-Out Software: Within the hardware of the FlashBlade is the Elasticity software. This software serves to manage the entire storage strategy across multiple FlashBlades. It manages data reduction, encryption, and scaling within the arrays, and because everything is sharing a common metadata engine, the entire system operates more efficiently as a single unit.
  • Elastic Fabric: Connecting the blades and multiple FlashBlades together is a built-in software defined network operating at speeds of 40 Gb/s. Furthermore, the network includes software defined quality of service (QoS) configurations to ensure priority traffic routing and low latency performance.


Pure Storage’s Value Proposition: Big, Fast, and Simple

When stacking the FlashBlade up against the challenges it faces, a few things become obvious. The task is a big one. The data is big. The processing demands are big. The opportunities are big. But, the FlashBlade must not only be able to tackle huge workloads, but it also must be able to do it quickly. Finally, PureStorage recognizes how complex solutions to these challenges have become in the past. In order to deliver a true solution and empower IT environments to leverage their big data, the FlashBlade must be simple.


  • Big: The FlashBlade can be exactly as large as you need it to be. Scale linearly and nondisuptively by adding additional blades up to 1.6 PBs of effective capacity in a single chassis. If more space is required, simply link multiple chassis together for larger deployments.
  • Fast: A major advantage of the Flash Blade is its speed. As an all flash storage solution, the FlashBlade can reach dizzying speeds compared to spinning disk and can improve IOPS by 1000%. In addition, the storage blade addresses the problem of metadata management. The FlashBlade architecture and Elasticity operating system support the creation of 100 million unique files every second for twenty years.
  • Simple: Large or small deployments, the FlashBlade enables you to create a single-vendor, single-language, single-OS system which can be easily scaled and managed from the cloud.


The FlashBlade is available now as part of an early-adopted program from Pure Storage. Learn more on the Pure Storage website.

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For Further Reading:

Pure Storage Offers All Flash To Compete With Spinning Disk

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