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Pure Storage buys Compuverde to put object storage on steroids

Fast flash storage specialist Pure Storage adds object storage to FlashArray and aims to compete with NetApp on NAS while bringing flash performance to web applications

Pure Storage has announced the acquisition of Compuverde, a NAS specialist whose object storage capabilities will be leveraged for its FlashArray product.

The announcement brings a two-pronged object storage strategy to Pure, which recently brought out Object Engine, a deduplication appliance that uses object storage to store backups based on its acquisition of StorReduce last year.

These moves may appear contradictory. Pure Storage has been overwhelmingly known as a key player in the ultra-fast block access flash storage market, aimed at applications, hypervisors and production data.

Object storage, on the other hand, is a form of storage best suited to high-capacity use cases and storage of less frequently accessed data, and in which speed of access is often low down the list of priorities.

But Gabriel Ferreira, a Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) technical director at Pure Storage, said it is becoming increasingly important to satisfy both modes in the same product.

Object storage is, above all, part and parcel of new modes of application development,” he said. “But just because organisations are producing web applications with data running in memory via S3 doesn’t mean they don’t need performance.”

Even data regarded as “cold” has performance needs, said Ferreira. Organisations need to feed their new analytics applications or test future projects with real data. And to do this, they need data stored in object format to be as rapidly accessible as if it is in production SAN arrays, he said.

“With Compuverde technology integrated into FlashArray, we will have the fastest object storage platform on the market, 10x quicker than the nearest current rival,” said Ferreira.

That 0.5 millisecond latency will come from Pure’s FlashArray hardware, which comes down to 0.25 milliseconds in the FlashArray//X with NVMe drives.

Many SAN arrays post latency specs of around 1 millisecond with flash drives, while the fastest object storage products claim around 5 to 10 milliseconds, or between 10x and 100x longer with mechanical hard drives, which are often the predominant media in these products.

Ferreira said access times will be just as quick on FlashArray used with object storage.

Tests are still to be carried out, however, and FlashArray’s good performance figures are reliant on arrays with Fibre Channel connectivity to servers. In object storage mode, they are likely to depend on Ethernet, for which FlashArray hardware comes with 10Gbps or 25Gbps ports used until now for iSCSI storage.

Swedish outfit Compuverde brings more than just object storage.

Its vNAS system permits file shares in NFS or CIFS with scaling carried out on the fly as disks are added, with millions of simultaneous user connections supported. So well regarded is its offering that last year, IBM partnered with Compuverde to power its Spectrum NAS product.

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“From here on in, we are a NAS player,” said Ferreira, who didn’t hide an ambition to compete with NetApp head-on in its key market.

“We are responding to two demands we hear regularly from customers – to share files at enterprise scale, but also to offer the flexibility of file access to infrastructure software, such as hypervisors.

Flexibility is one of the key attributes pushed by NetApp in its products. It is, in theory, quicker for hypervisors to access VMs or databases for their data via block access (SAN) storage. But use of NAS allows a rapid switch from one physical server to another, in case of an incident, which would be the case where the SAN had to be reconfigured.

Object storage in Compuverde is an overlay. It acts simply to share files held in NAS formats via the S3 protocol, which is something of a de facto standard in (public and private) cloud operations.

Pure already has fast NAS capability that can share its contents via object storage – in FlashBlade, launched in 2016, which is intended for use in compute clusters or data lakes using Pure’s ElasticSearch search engine.

In its new-found strategic enthusiasm for object storage, Pure hopes to get FlashBlade out of the clusters strait-jacket and push them as backup arrays with its new ObjectEngine appliances.

Ferreira added: “ObjectEngine virtual appliances – which came out of the acquisition of StorReduce last year – were launched in March as backup appliances aimed at Commvault, Veeam, Oracle and Veritas backups workloads, which are then stored in object format.

“But when connected to FlashBlade arrays, it becomes possible to directly use backups in ElasticSearch clusters. That means Pure comes to the market with a two-pronged object storage approach, with FlashArray for web applications and FlashBlade for analytics on real content.”

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