Happy New Year! Storage news isn’t taking an extended New Year’s break, and storage news from Amazon Web Services (AWS) is no exception. On January 3, AWS announced its own virtual storage appliance, and we’re excited about it. See the details in their blog.

So what does this all mean? AWS announced a virtual storage appliance that provides a way to take advantage of the underlying storage layer that AWS provides—either local NVMe or Amazon Elastic Block Storage (Amazon EBS). They position Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (Amazon EC2) based controller instances between your compute EC2 instance and the selected backend storage, enabling you to move the datapath from direct access to the thicker pipes of the Amazon EC2 network. Consequently, you can get more out of your storage—either from a performance perspective or to share, previously unshareable (local NVMe) or share in more ways (Amazon EBS), to scale out applications. This doesn’t virtualize the storage itself. Instead, the volumes are directly passed through, allowing you to take greater advantage of those volumes.

Beyond the technical description, this is an effort to enable the movement and creation of certain types of applications that rely on storage functionality, as well as features that can’t be easily done with existing cloud infrastructure and services by themselves.

A few months back, I wrote about how AWS’s io2 Block Express was an exciting release from AWS for Pure. We love storage enhancements and love to understand why/if/when they matter. We also love to take these changes/enhancements and figure out and test how to seamlessly take optimal advantage of them in our products, so our customers don’t have to be experts themselves.

So why is this AWS appliance exciting for Pure? Here are a few reasons:

  1. There is clearly real demand to make better use of cloud storage.
  2. An intermediary appliance is the route to do it.
  3. No customer can build that themselves (nor should they).

These points are a fundamental part of the Pure Storage® value proposition. We make the storage experience better for our customers. We’ve done this for years on premises with FlashArray™ and continue to do so with the recent release of the new, top-tier FlashArray//XL. We followed this mindset into AWS and Azure with our cloud implementation of FlashArray—called Pure Cloud Block Store™.

What Is Pure Cloud Block Store?

It’s a storage appliance deployed in AWS or Azure using native cloud resources. In AWS, instead of physical controllers, like FlashArray, we use native Amazon EC2 instances. Instead of flash for persistence and NVRAM, we currently leverage a combination of instance store, Amazon EBS, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). These details can, of course, change as we update and adapt to newer and better options. Pure Cloud Block Store is built to use the best of AWS and deployed via toolsets like AWS CloudFormation Templates or Pure’s own Terraform provider.

But Pure Cloud Block Store is much more than just some controllers in front of Amazon EBS. It comes with everything that Pure has been building for years, including the Purity operating environment. Purity is the same exact software that executes on our global customer fleet of FlashArray devices, with the exact same code, but backended by a completely different platform—AWS or Azure. While Pure Cloud Block Store delivers performance and resilience, it really differentiates from other cloud storage offerings with the data services that Pure is known for:

  • Storage efficiency: Thin provisioning. Data reduction techniques via deduplication, compression, and pattern removal. (Did you know that our current customer fleet of Pure Cloud Block Store deployments, as of January 2022, averages 11:1 data reduction, not including thin provisioning or snapshots?)
  • Replication options: Active-active, synchronous replication, called ActiveCluster™.

Near-zero RPO asynchronous replication, called ActiveDR™. Snapshot-based periodic replication between Pure Cloud Block Store deployments or to object storage (like Amazon S3 or Azure Blob).

  • Cyber-Security: SafeMode™ provides data recovery in case of a ransomware attack, as well as always-on data-at-rest encryption.
  • Consistency and Data Mobility: Efficient data movement, consistent features, APIs, management, integrations, across clouds and on-premises.

We saw the need to make better use of backend cloud storage, simplify cloud migration, as well as introduce time-tested enterprise features on top of it. Pure Cloud Block Store provides the resilience, mobility, availability, and security that your data needs. And one of the biggest differentiators of all—consistency and mobility between clouds. The same UI, APIs, tools, and features on premises and in the cloud.

One of the biggest advantages Pure Cloud Block Store provides is how easily it can be paired with FlashArray devices across your data centers. Data, or copies of it, can therefore be moved between locations (or even public clouds) and the licensing of that capacity can move via our Pure as-a-Service™ subscription program.

AWS has clearly communicated that storage innovation is needed in the cloud, so customers can overcome the technical barriers blocking their migration of existing applications to the cloud. We agree! And we’re excited to continue to serve our customers wherever their data is.

Learn more about Pure Cloud Block Store: