IoT is the killer app for next-gen data centers: Pure Storage's Michael Cornwell

Pure Storage, the California based enterprise data flash storage company is on a mission to drive business and IT transformation for customers. It claims that Flash Arrays is ideal for the move to big-data and for performance-incentive workloads, It is simpler, faster, and more elegant that any other technology in the data center. Michael Cornwell, Chief Technology Officer, Asia Pacific and Japan, Pure Storage in an interview with Techseen explains how the data storage market is fast evolving and how storage, like other technologies in the enterprise is quickly moving towards simplicity as organizations continue to push for lower operating costs while replacing the need for specific storage expertise. Excerpts:
Techseen: How would you say the enterprise storage landscape has evolved in the last 2-5 years? What are the major changes that you have seen in this industry?
Cornwell: The last five years of enterprise storage have seen more innovation than in recent decades, with the most significant innovation being the transition from disk to flash storage. Performance gains in flash created an opportunity for new companies to reinvent enterprise storage. As a result, the traditional thinking of ‘You don’t get fired for using Vendor X’ soon became outdated, allowing enterprises to re-examine new storage companies and technologies. In doing so, they discovered better performance and simplicity than was delivered by the incumbents previously. This led to a significant erosion of the storage incumbents’ market share, which also experienced reductions in year-on-year revenue and in a bid to survive, had to resort to mega mergers to streamline their operations.
Techseen: It is claimed that flash based storage arrays are faster than disk drives but are more expensive. Are organizations coming out of the disk drive era to accede to flash fast enough?
Cornwell: The rapid adoption of flash in the enterprise over the last 18 months is due to the reduction in flash media prices. The myth of flash being more expensive has been dispelled, not only through lower media prices but with technologies like inline deduplication (data deduplication is a specialized data compression technique for eliminating duplicate copies of repeating data) and compression. Users are able to store more on flash without compromising the performance.
New flash technologies such as 3D flash, where bits are stacked for greater density, will accelerate this transition, which in turn will reduce flash pricing much more rapidly than anticipated.
What is Pure Storage’s USP, why would an enterprise go for your solution over legacy storage vendors like IBM or NetApp?
Cornwell: No doubt, the all-flash data center is coming and many enterprises are making decisions now for their future data center environment. Given the price hurdle has now been removed and all-flash storage systems today cost the same as hard disks, it is no surprise that companies are turning their backs on hard disk systems or hybrid systems, and the rush for flash storage is gaining momentum. It is only a matter of time before the alternative flash medium is used as volume storage, for example for seismic analyses, design and CAD, Big Data Analytics, or the Internet of Things (IoT). 451 Research, a global IT analyst firm, views the drop in prices as an advantage for all-flash systems as well as for Pure Storage, since it is also a driver concerning the enablement of the all-flash data center.
Why should companies forgo the simplicity and the operative savings resulting from consistently higher performance and lower latency for the same or even lower prices? The upcoming years will probably yield the answers to these questions.
Techseen: How does your Purity Operating Environment work?
Cornwell: The Purity Operating Environment is offering a highly expansive and comprehensive disaster recovery, data protection and security features in its class. Together with FlashRecover, a native and fully integrated replication, snapshot and policy management service, Purity was purpose-built to keep mission-critical applications running in the face of anything, from natural disaster or user error, to hardware failure and malicious attacks. Purity FlashRecover technology features data reduction-aware replication and snapshot services to deliver space-efficient, point-in-time copies and expanded data protection for local and remote data centers. FlashRecover Replication runs natively, utilizing Purity’s proprietary FlashReduce deduplication and compression technologies to dramatically reduce the network bandwidth required to support disaster recovery. FlashRecover enables replication across the entire flash array series in any combination of fan-in/fan-out configurations, and supports replication of a single volume, consistent groups of multiple volumes, or all data content on the array.
Techseen: Does Pure1 encompass all your solutions and only your solutions? Can it be used as a dashboard for other storage solutions too?
Cornwell: Pure1 is a SaaS-based solution for creating an unparalleled support experience for customers. It uses deep telemetry, from within the array, coupled with a cloud-based analytics engine to provide a proactive support platform. While Pure1 is currently a solution for Pure developed products, we do integrate with many dashboard and platform management solutions including VMWare, Cisco, and Oracle, enabling Virtualization and Server Administrators to easily manage storage.
Techseen: Does flash play a role in changing the dynamics of how IoT works?
Cornwell: The ‘killer app’ for next-generation data center storage will be IoT. Sensor-based IoT is driving an unprecedented data footprint explosion. For example, a single mining vehicle in Australia can create 300 gigabytes of data daily. Today, most of that data is discarded because it cannot be processed with the existing infrastructure. This marks an opportunity for flash to be a pillar for instant data analytics infrastructure. Consequently, machine learning and advanced analytics will be able to leverage the performance and density of flash to deliver near real-time decisions based of massive IoT data environments. This is because All-Flash Analytics (AFA) is capable of processing petabytes of data, enabling real time decision making.
Techseen: What is the future of storage for enterprises and how rapidly is technology changing for enterprises to keep up?
Cornwell: Tier 1 structured data only accounts for a small percentage of the world’s data and grows at an incremental pace, while more than three quarters of data in the world are unstructured and growing at a rapid pace. With the amount of data generated daily, it is easy to see why flash will be instrumental in helping businesses keep up with this data deluge. This decade of flash adoption, that started with Enterprise Applications will move deeper and deeper into our data centers until any workload and any environment’s storage will be on flash. Storage, like other technologies in the enterprise is quickly moving towards simplicity as organizations continue to push for lower operating costs while replacing the need for specific storage expertise with ease of use so that anyone can manage their storage. The era of ‘iPhoning the Enterprise’ has begun.
As businesses are shifting their focus to software capability rather than price, it now boils down to how we reproduce the capabilities of disk systems of the last 30 years.
One of the interesting initial applications for flash is archiving within the medical field. Medical researchers and health practitioners typically need to be able to retrieve information quickly – yet, they don’t know which bits of data they might have use for in the future. The economics support using flash as an archive system.

Abhinav Mohapatra

An author who has a keen interest for the ‘off-beat’ <!--more-->An author who has a keen interest for the ‘off-beat’, he has covered and explored multiple facets of the marketing, advertising

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