VMworld has always been a fun event for Pure and this year was no exception. As a matter of fact, we launched our company back at VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas, offering the first public appearance of our concept for the FlashArray. For some of us old Puritans, last week’s VMworld evoked a very nostalgic feeling. To top it off, last week we had our first User’s conference, EVOLVE, and we announced our Series-E funding, one of the largest in storage startup history (more on that here and here).

Puritans from all departments including Sales, Inside Sales, Engineering and Marketing were all present in full force; we had a constant stream of customers in our booth at all times. Check out the picture below, it sure looks very busy!



A lot of planning and effort goes into designing the booth. We always want to look our best on the show floor! That said, substance is of the essence in our view, and that means having the technical chops to back our presence on the show with an impressive set of demos. In this blog, I highlight some of the demos that were built on the booth floor with a live data center comprising of two big servers, one management server, SAN & network switches, and two Pure Storage FlashArrays.

Objectives and Goal

  • Show massive server consolidation workload by having 100s of VMs generate 200k+ IOPS (R/W mix) on Pure FlashArray FA-420 23 TB system
  • Show how we can clone VMs from template at lightening speeds with VMware vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI)
  • Show 1000 Windows 7 virtual desktops on a single shelf system (FA-420 5 TB system) and demonstrate boot storms, login storms, and reboot storms.
  • Show the hardware resiliency by pulling up to 4 drives while 200K I/Os were being serviced, pull power cords of controllers to simulate hardware failure (failover tests).
  • Show that virtualized workloads are a ideal candidates for our data reduction with the virtual server workloads achieving > 6 X data reduction and the VDI desktops achieving > 10 X data reduction

Demo Configuration

We shipped more than half a million dollars worth of gear including servers, SAN switches, Network switches and Pure Storage FlashArray to VMworld for running the demos in the booth.

Hardware Configuration

The illustration below shows the Visio diagram of our mini datacenter that was hosted in the Pure Storage booth.


The BOM included –

  • 2 HP DL 580 G7 – 4 Socket – E7-4870 @2.40 GHz Intel Processors
  • 512 GB of low voltage DDR3 (1333 MHz) memory
  • 2 Dual port Qlogic HBA in each server
  • 1 SuperMicro – 2 Socket server with Westmere processor, 48 GB of memory for hosting management services
  • 2 Brocade 6500 SAN Switches
  • 1 Cisco 1G Switch
  • 1 Pure Storage FlashArray FA-420 23 TB (raw) with three shelves (for VSI Demo)
  • 1 Pure Storage FlashArray FA-420 5.5 TB (raw) with one shelf (for VDI demo)

The Servers, SAN switches and Networking gear were hosted in a half rack and the two Pure Storage FlashArray FA-420s were on display on two pedestal(with Fibre cables running under the carpet from the mini rack to the pedestal).

Software and Workload Configuration

  • VMware ESXi 5.1.0 (build 1065491) with vCenter 5.1.0
  • Linux RHEL 6.1 VMs running IOgen workload for simulating server workload (80/20 Read/Write 8K blocksize) to generate in excess of 200K IOPS
  • Windows 7 (64 bit) desktop VMs with IOBlazer running to simulate a typical 80/20 Write/Read (4k) I/O each desktop doing around 50-60 IOPS
  • vSphere powerCLI 5.1.0 and power shell script to clone 100 Thick provisioned (EZT) VMs at a time to show the speed of cloning VMs using the powerful snapshot technology. The script kept a score on the total number of VMs cloned for the entire duration of the show.

All of the above was configured on the booth floor and the workload was continuously running from Saturday night till Wednesday night.


The two demo stations (pedestals) were named VSI demo pod and VDI demo pod based on what was demonstrated.

• VSI Demo pod
  • 100 Linux VMs running IOGen with 80/20 R/W, 8K block size delivered more than 200K IOPS
  • Drive pulls, 2 – 4 drives at a time on the 3 shelf system while the workload was running, This not only wow’ed the customers but they couldn’t believe one could switch drives after pulling them out! And the array reclaims it back and there is no drop in performance while drive rebuild.
  • Simulation of Controller failure by pulling the power cords while servicing 200K IOPS, I/Os resumed on the other controller without a glitch
  • VMware WebClient Plugin demonstration showing datastore to LUN mapping, I/O latency, thruput and bandwidth
  • Storage Provisioning operations so simple that even our Sales guys were provisioning storage to the ESXi cluster
• VDI Demo Pod
  • Cloned 2460 VMs while the simulate I/O load was running on the single shelf/two Controller VDI system using Powershell script
  • Each VM took an average of 5-6 sec to clone (50 GB persistent Image). This is a magnitude of difference with any other VAAI compliant array (10 X better)
  • Simulation of 1000 desktops doing 50 IOPS/Desktop with 80% writes and 20% Reads I/O (4k) while still keeping the latencies at < 1 msec was astonishing to customers
  • Simulation of boot storms while the VDI workload was running by booted 100 VMs at a time (1 min to boot, sustained bootstorm with latency < 1 msec)
  • The data reduction with 1000s of desktop images was mind boggling to customer, we were storing 3460 Windows 7 Thick desktops (EZT image of 50 GB) in < 100 GB of space.

Overall it was a very fun event, and there was a lot of excitement around the booth and customers truly got a first hand experience of our product live. We had many customers bring back other customers to talk to us and our current customers were evangelizing our product which is a huge testimony of our success in the market place. We thank you for visiting us at the booth and learning about our FlashArray.

If you missed us, we’ll be showing some of these demonstrations again at VMWorld in Barcelona, as well as the vForum events across Asia Pacific in the coming months. We hope to see you there!