Pure Storage is building an everything-as-a-service stack over hardware and software products

All-flash array supplier Pure Storage is becoming a public cloud-like business, offering its products and capabilities as services in a hybrid multi-cloud world. In the background is its cloud-native Portworx software, which is deeply integrated into its FlashArray and FlashBlade products.

Pure will also add automated monitoring and so-called “AI-driven” recommendation capabilities with self-service management and digital procurement to its Pure1 console. The changes were announced at its Pure//Accelerate virtual event today. They are generally in line with the thrust of recent announcements on APEX by Dell Technologies and HPE, which recently rolled out Alletra hardware and Digital Services Platform as its as-a-service proposition.

Prakash Darji, Pure’s VP and GM for Digital Experience, said in a canned statement: “By giving our customers more control over their environments and active recommendations for solving problems before they happen, we’re delivering on our Digital Experience vision and transforming the IT management experience yet again.”

Murli Thirumale, Pure’s VP and GM of its Cloud Native Business Unit, said the firm was “delivering storage that can be orchestrated entirely through Kubernetes”…. along with “a seamless hybrid cloud experience.”

Pure1 Digital Experience

The Pure1 Digital Experience builds on Pure-as-a-Service by adding self-service management and online procurement to its catalogue. Customers can buy new systems and services – including Pure-as-a-Service, Portworx, and Pure Cloud Block Store – or expand their as-a-service footprint on demand.

Users can quote, order and track new system additions from anywhere as well as schedule upgrades. Customers can also use the Meta AI engine in Pure1 to get  predictive fault analysis and resolution using telemetry from FlashArray, FlashBlade, Portworx, and Pure Cloud Block Store for AWS and Microsoft Azure. This includes both virtual machines and containers on these products, with real-time troubleshooting.

The vendor says the AI engine can provide forecasts of how these products will respond if customers add or move workloads, with recommendations on workload capacity and performance scaling. 

Meta can also provide assessments for ransomware protection, with suggestions such as SafeMode snapshots. 

Portworx

At the array end of the digital experience stack, so to speak, Pure has integrated its cloud-native Portworx storage and data protection software into FlashArray and FlashBlade provisioning for Kubernetes.

V2.8 of Portworx Enterprise enables the automatic creation of storage volumes or file systems on FlashArray and FlashBlade when users provision container-native volumes through Portworx. The provisioning  is done using Kubernetes without the need to directly interface with the backing storage arrays. 

CTO International, Alex McMullan told us: “Pure has taken a unique approach. For example, instead of just running a CSI plugin in front of a FlashArray, where provisioned LUNs are mapped to volumes on a 1:1 basis, Portworx uses the CSI spec to provision and manage the underlying storage, but then virtualizes that storage to enable an order of magnitude more volumes as well as more administrative actions (create, delete, attach, detach), thanks to the distributed Portworx control plane.  

“Additionally, with Portworx, these virtual volumes can be managed at the container-granular and application-granular level, enabling true app-aware data management.  For instance, a Portworx backup of a Kubernetes application captures the distributed container volumes, as well as all the Kubernetes application configuration and can be moved to any S3-compatible objects, like Amazon S3 or FlashBlade.” 

The new release sends Kubernetes cluster and volume usage metrics collected by Portworx to Pure1. McMullan said: “We do not believe any competitor has this level of ability with K8s monitoring and observability, though we are aware of competitors talking about AI ops and insights into cloud infrastructure etc.”

V2.8 also adds VMWare Tanzu (TKG) support via the native Tanzu CSI driver.  Portworx continues its general third-party array support and can provide a consistent, Kubernetes-native experience for applications running on any enterprise storage that supports CSI. 

Pure’s first generation Kubernetes offering, Pure Service Orchestrator (PSO) will become a part of Portworx Essentials, Portworx’s freemium offering, to provide unified storage orchestration for Kubernetes. Portworx Essentials is included and fully supported in a customer’s Evergreen or Pure-as-a-Service subscriptions with more functionality than the current PSO. 

Portworx Enterprise 2.8 will be available in June.

Comment

In a hotly competitive market, the on-premises storage and system suppliers are becoming public cloud-like and the public cloud suppliers are building on-premise offerings – such as AWS’ Outposts, Microsoft’s Azure Stack and GCP on-prem.

In a sense all the main storage and server/storage system suppliers are adopting public cloud characteristics:

General diagram showing suppliers and public cloud operators adopting each other’s’ clothes.

Pure’s emphasis on the digital experience might seem insubstantial to people concerned with storage array speeds and feeds, but the firm seems deadly serious about this stuff. CEO Charlie Giancarlo has said that 95 per cent of Pure’s engineers are software engineers; that’s an indication of hardware’s relative importance to Pure these days.

An, ahem, purist might say that customers are not concerned with the hardware speeds and feeds of Amazon’s cloud storage facilities, they just buy/consume storage services with a totally online experience. And the online digital experience is all software.

It’s becoming a me-too world.

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