Pure Expands FlashBlade Lineup with Pure FlashBlade//E

By , Monday, March 6th 2023

Categories: Analyst Blogs

Tags: All Flash Array, All-Flash, all-flash storage systems, data workloads, flash, Pure, Pure FlashBlade//E, Pure Storage, storage, unstructured data workloads,

The News: Pure Storage announced a new model of their all-flash file and object system FlashBlade. Pure’s FlashBlade//E takes a detour from the performance oriented focus of the original FlashBlade design and the subsequent FlashBlade//S. Instead, Pure’s new FlashBlade//E system takes aim at capacity focused unstructured data workloads with greater economic value to rival that of disk-based systems.

Pure Expands FlashBlade Lineup with Pure FlashBlade//E

Analyst Take: Pure Storage has always been thought of as “the flash vendor” for obvious reasons – they broke into the storage scene with all-flash systems and have continued down that road ever since. While certainly not the only vendor to offer all flash storage systems, Pure’s early adoption of the technology and continued development have led to this way of thinking. When someone thinks of Pure, they probably think of flash, and when they think of flash they probably think of speed… followed by a steep price tag.

The economics around flash, however, have changed. Costs have come down and reliability and longevity have come up. In addition, new technologies such as QLC devices now can level the economic playing field between SSDs and HDDs. Pure has capitalized on this technology by expanding their all-flash product portfolio into new areas that compete more directly with hybrid or disk-based systems. They first demonstrated this with FlashArray//C – a capacity optimized version of their higher performance FlashArray//X systems that utilizes QLC to a more economic offering.

Now they have taken a similar route with their FlashBlade offerings. FlashBlade had always been a bit of a unique offering in the file and object market. It utilizes a unique blade architecture – since improved with the //S revamp – and in typical Pure fashion it is an all-flash, high-performance system.  This is even apparent in the company’s tagline for the FlashBlade: “Unified Fast File and Object”. I point this out not as a knock on FlashBlade – the product has been successful in supporting unstructured data use cases that with high performance requirements, but the economics can be prohibitive for less performance-oriented needs. 

The economics of both the original FlashBlade and the newer FlashBlade//S systems have left a large area of the unstructured data market untapped. Workloads with large capacity needs and lower performance requirements – such as large content repositories – have traditionally relied on disk-based systems. They haven’t needed the performance to justify the cost. Now, with the new FlashBlade//E systems, Pure is looking to change the dynamic.

Pure’s FlashBlade//E uses dense QLC Direct Flash Modules, just as the //S, but with the added ability to scale capacity separate from compute. While in the //S systems each blade contains both compute and storage resources to scale its high performance alongside its capacity, the //E systems scale differently by utilizing two separate chassis types. One chassis that supports compute and storage blades, and one in which the blades are storage only. Either chassis can be added – up to 10 total – to balance the needs between capacity and performance. By scaling up capacity only, FlashBlade can offer high capacity unstructured data storage, without disrupting the economics for performance that is not needed. Pure is claiming that the cost of FlashBlade//E works out to under 20 cents per GB.

The economics of Pure FlashBlade//E fill a gap where the //S couldn’t match the economics of disk-based systems, while simultaneously offering the advantages of an all-flash system. Flash devices offer greater reliability and longevity than spinning disks that are at risk of mechanical failures. In addition, they are more efficient for both power and space, as well as offering greater recyclability – all of which help organizations as sustainability becomes a key consideration.

The new FlashBlade//E allows Pure to expand their footprint into new areas of unstructured data workloads. It fills a gap in the FlashBlade portfolio and provides Pure an economic competitor to disk-based systems while maintaining their status as “the flash vendor”. 

More insights from Evaluator Group:

Check out Evaluator Group’s research on Pure Storage FlashBlade here: 

Pure Storage FlashBlade Product Review

Disclosure: Evaluator Group, wholly owned by The Futurum Group, is a research and analyst firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article.  The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.   Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually. 

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