PureStorage, a Mountain View, California-based startup, is making waves in the datacenter industry again with their second-generation flash-based storage array offering, FlashArray 300 Series (FA-300). The second release of FlashArray features a wide range of upgrades, including but not limited to, High Availability (HA) support, VMware integration, swappable drives and RAM modules, as well as a 2.0 release of the on-board Purity operating system. One of the most significant developments, though, is that the FlashArray system is no longer part of their early adopter program, and is now available for general use.
About Disk Arrays
In basic terms, disk arrays are large data storage devices that have multiple storage drives or disks installed in shelves inside the device. Arrays are different from traditional storage enclosures, as they utilize cache memory, RAID technology and virtualization. Historically, disk arrays were made of hard disk drives (HDDs). The big problem with HDDs is in their mechanical make up – rotating magnetic disks where data was stored. These are volatile devices that often wear out long before the predicted five-year lifespan of most hard disks.
What makes the FlashArray system such a significant technological advancement is that these arrays use solid-state drives (SSDs). As opposed to the traditional rotating magnetic disks used in HDDs, solid-state drives are built with silicon microchips. This makes for a more stable and longer-lasting storage device.
What’s New in the FlashArray 300 Series
• High Availability Support – For any organization implementing flash arrays into their data management system, high availability is non-negotiable. The new FlashArray system includes a wide range of HA solutions including hot-swappable SSD and NVRAM modules, stateless controllers and active/active controller technology – used for load management throughout the array system.
• FlashCare – One of the main critiques of the FlashArray system has to do with its design. For starters, in an effort to keep the flash system affordable, the drives were designed with lower-tiered, consumer-level multi-level cell (MLC) technology. The critique, which isn’t completely unfounded, is MLC engineering is much less stable than eMLC and SLC technology. PureStorage addresses this problem with FlashCare technology. The folks at PureStorage boast that the software bolsters the MLC technology, so the FlashArray 2.0 can perform at a high performance level throughout the duration of system’s 5+ year warranty.
• VMware Integration – The new release of FlashArray is now ready for seamless integration with VMware. The FlashArray 300-series system utilizes the VAAI API for easy integration with both VMware and vStorage for cloud management solutions.
• New Web-based Graphic User Interface (GUI) – The new FlashArray release now includes a new web-based GUI. The GUI includes a clean looking dashboard where users can manage and manage storage parameters, analytics and individual arrays within the system.
The new FlashArray system comes at a time when small to mid-sized companies are in desperate need of an affordable flash-based storage system that can scale with today’s complex world of I/O traffic. Flash disk arrays, which currently run at about $10 per GB can now be purchased for around $4 to $8 per GB through PureStorage. Through a combination of lower-tiered MLC technology and the FlashCare software, smaller non-enterprise companies can afford a sophisticated flash-based array without going into massive debt.