Earlier this morning our manufacturing line in Texas completed the final test and packaging of the first batch of FlashBlade systems, which are now on their way to customers. After completing a successful beta, the team that has been working on the FlashBlade product is proud to announce that effective today, FlashBlade is in Directed Availability (available to purchase for select customers) and ready for full production use!
FlashBlade is the result of close to three years of development aimed at building a next-generation Flash platform for datasets that scale with Moore’s law. These are workloads that are some of the most complex, and fastest growing in the storage market and include segments such as technical computing, sensor data, analytics, rich media, simulation and engineering workloads. We envisioned that if we could tackle some of the most challenging workloads, we would also be able to service other more classical applications and environments.
When we introduced FlashBlade at Pure//Accelerate in March 2016, we were humbled by how it was received by customers, technologists, press, analysts and others. It was incredibly rewarding to finally be able to share the journey and the many, many pivotal technology decisions that got us to where we are today, after having spent years in stealth. It felt a bit like we had a great secret to share with the world and couldn’t wait to get it out. Since March, we have shared details of the FlashBlade design with customers, partners, journalists, bloggers and peers. Sharing the insights and innovations we delivered both in hardware and software has introduced one of the first fourth-generation platforms to the market. In the process, between FlashArray and FlashBlade, we hope that we have helped bring state-of-the-art back to storage.
In addition to hitting our DA milestone, another aspect of FlashBlade we’re incredibly pleased with is the early feedback from customers. In general, customers who have looked at the architecture in-depth have been excited. Common initial reactions range from, “This is really different” – to, “You’ve really thought through the design; its inspiring to see this level of engineering.”
The first batch of FlashBlades out of the manufacturing line is on the way to datacenters across the globe. Deployments into production span some of the most respected and innovative companies on the planet. And this is just the beginning.
We have been running an early access program with various iterations of the pre-production product for close to a year. Since FlashBlade was publicly unveiled in March, interest in the early access program has been oversubscribed – a “good problem” to have, as they say. Systems have been deployed into customer environments for a large and very diverse set of applications ranging from machine learning, chip design, SaaS back-end, geophysics, continuous integration and continuous testing. And the list goes on.
The overwhelming feedback from those who have been part of the early access program has been positive: “I can replace two racks of stuff with 4U” or “FlashBlade is the fastest system we have ever had in our data center.” It has been especially gratifying to see the customer reaction to the system and to see firsthand how much value FlashBlade creates for customers compared to legacy type architectures.
All this said, of course, we realize that no major undertaking happens without some criticism or skepticism. Commentary from competitors and skeptics centered on the fact that this would take years before a system of this scale would be ready for deployment in the real world, acknowledging that FlashBlade was just too advanced and too innovative to be ready anytime soon. (We love a critic!)
Truth is, they had a point. It was a massive undertaking. But our progress has been simply mind-blowing. It’s not easy to build an original system at the level of co-design of hardware and software as FlashBlade. During the early days, and as we looked at the scope of the vision and magnitude of work ahead, I asked our CEO Scott Dietzen if he understood how big of an effort we were facing and how committed he was to a development effort of this magnitude. Scott had a great answer: “Pure is a company with big ambitions, to succeed Pure will have to be ready to tackle really hard challenges and make bold long term bets.” Scott’s answer stuck with me through this project and it has been great to be part of working on something as ambitious and bold as FlashBlade.
So, in summary, it took us under five months from the day we unveiled the technology to declare it ready for production environments. And that is absolutely worth celebrating. But we are by no means done. There is still much more we are planning to add to the platform over the course of the coming weeks, months and years – and we genuinely believe the best it yet to come.
We hope you too get a chance to experience FlashBlade. We are incredibly proud of what we have built, and know that the journey has just started.