Exposing the Pure Storage Cost of //C

Recently, Pure Storage announced its intention to deliver a version of their QLC only All-Flash Array (AFA), FlashArray//C (//C), for under $0.50 GB. Pure Storage does not simply publish the price of a fully configured system as StorONE does with TRUprice. When Pure briefed the leading storage industry observer, Chris Mellor, he takes the logical next step and calculates what Pure Storage’s claim means for their potential customers. Chris publishes his estimations in an article on his excellent site Blocks & Files.

Chris calculates that this $0.50 means Pure Storage might be able to sell a //C for about 1.2PB $650,166.50 and a 768TB unit for $384,000. It will be interesting to see how Pure actually prices the system. The math isn’t always quite that simple. Usually, as the capacity of a system decreases the cost per GB increases. It is safe to assume that will be true in the case of the //C.

In that same article, Chris used our TRUprice calculator to compare the price of an All-Flash Array.next (AFAn) to a //C. He found the 768TB AFAn to be $549,489, almost $165,000 more expensive than the //C. It is important to note, again, that TRUprice provides the system’s fully configured, ACTUAL price, not a calculation based on a comment during a call. We encourage Pure Storage to publish their pricing of their fully configured systems, as we have done on TRUPrice, instead of forcing the press and customers to take a guess at the eventual end cost.

ONE Storage vs. Tier 2 Storage

Let’s, for now, own the comparison of the AFAn to //C. We make no apologies for the AFAn. What do you get for your extra $165,000? First, you get a system designed for tier 1, mission-critical workloads, capable of 1 Million IOPS and over 10GB/s throughput. Second, you get a system, a single system, that can address tier 2 capacity-centric workloads. The system is fully mirrored. Not only is there no single point of failure, but there are also multiple points of redundancy. With AFAn, however, thanks to the intelligent use of QLC, you get a system that can also support tier-2, capacity use cases. It supports all protocols block(FC, iSCSI), File(NFS,SMB) and Object(s3). It is a single system designed to be the ONE storage platform for your enterprise storage infrastructure for the next 10 years.

What is the //C use case? 

Per Pure Storage’s website, “The FlashArray//C is intended for tier 2 workloads such as test and dev, backup and recovery, VMs, email, data repositories, and legal archives.” Not surprisingly, there is no mention of performance expectations.  Since organizations will always have tier-1 and tier 2 workloads, most loyal Pure Storage customers will need a //C and a FlashArray//X, as well as a larger IT budget. Pure Storage provides no mechanism to automatically move old data from an //X to an //C, so you will also need more time in your day to manually manage the process.

The //X is Pure Storage’s tier-1 option, and it tries to compete, from a performance perspective, with our AFAn. It is the more reasonable comparison. While StorONE openly publishes performance data on the AFAn, finding meaningful performance data on //X is very difficult.  The existence of the //C proves that the //X can’t address all workload like the our AFAn.

The Cost of X+C

If you are keeping count, that means Pure Storage wants you to buy two flash arrays from them — an //X for your tier-1, performance-oriented workloads and a //C for your tier two workloads. Pure Storage can asynchronously replicate between a //X and a //C, and you can manage both from the same user interface, but there is no other integration between the two. Pure Storage is forcing you to buy and manage two separate storage systems, which makes sense since they are a hardware company.

The TRUprice of ONE

The AFAn, on the other hand, can handle all workloads, high performance, and high capacity. One system is less expensive than two systems. Combining a //C and a //X will cost most organizations more than $900,000, making the AFAn at least $350,000 LESS expensive while still providing better performance, better data integrity, and simpler management. 

ONE Storage Platform Makes You the Hero

The AFAn uses Intel Optane as a storage tier to process all data writes and modifications. Using Optane gives AFAn incredible read performance and even more impressive write performance. It also allows us to better manage QLC by writing sequentially to the QLC capacity tier, improving those drives’ life expectancy by 10X. It also provides for very high-performance reads from the QLC tier, at speeds approaching 1 million IOPS. Our efficient software enables us to leverage these technologies to deliver sub-millisecond latency under ALL conditions. 

The QLC tier addresses the customer’s tier 2 capacity needs. We automatically and transparently move data between those tiers while maintaining sub-millisecond latencies. There is no performance impact when accessing data from the QLC tier. If the customer has a workload, they never want to touch the Optane tier, they can define that easily on volume creation. Customers can individually choose the configuration that is best for them, but most will find a small Optane tier combined with PBs of QLC will serve them well. 

Why Stop at Two Systems?

Pure Storage is in the business of selling hardware. StorONE is a software company. In addition to asking you to buy a storage system for production and a separate storage system for tier 1 workloads, they want you to buy a third system if you need object storage (FlashBlade). If you want data protection, you need to buy a fourth system from another vendor because their FlashArray //X and //C can’t adequately protect themselves. 

StorONE, through a single software solution, provides performance, capacity, and all the storage protocols. We provide support for Block (Fibre Channel, iSCSI), NAS (NFS, SMB) and Object Storage (S3) within the same system. StorONE’s data availability suite offers a five-star safety rating that includes the ability to take an unlimited number of snapshots and retain those snapshots indefinitely. It replaces the need for daily, weekly, and even monthly backups as well as the need for copy data management tools. Again, ONE is better. 


Choosing between AFAn vs. //C is a clear case of tactics versus strategy. With Pure Storage, you have to solve today’s storage problems with multiple point solutions that can never be consolidated into a cohesive storage strategy. At StorONE, we enable you to solve today’s storage challenge with a single solution that can, at your pace, consolidate all of the storage needs in your environment. I invite you to request a personal demonstration of our ONE solution and put an end to storage infrastructure sprawl. 

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George Crump

George has over 25 years of experience in the storage industry, holding executive sales and engineer positions. Before joining StorONE, he was the founder and lead analyst at Storage Switzerland.

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