Pure Storage recently announced broad availability for their Evergreen Storage Service (ES2) program and I thought it might be worth checking it out in a little more detail.
A lot of companies are embracing the “cloud consumption model” and focusing on shifting their IT spend from capital expenditure (CapEx) to an operating expenditure (OpEx) model. The shift from CapEx to OpEx isn’t simply an accounting function. The cloud operating model is all about offering infrastructure elements (among other things) “as a service”. In the olden days, you built your own data centre, filled it with your own infrastructure, and ran your applications on top of that infrastructure. This expenditure was invariably capitalised and considered a sunk cost to deliver the DC capability. The beauty of consuming infrastructure elements as a service is that someone else has made that investment and stumped up the cash to build the platform for you. You just need to consume it on a $/GB basis. That’s oversimplifying the OpEx / CapEx debate, but the idea is you’ll likely spend less (assuming you know what you’re doing) over the life of the service.
What is ES2 Then?
At its core, Pure’s ES2 is a way to consume storage as a service on-premises and at select colocation facilities. It leverages Pure’s Evergreen storage model and provides a flexible consumption model.
How Does It Work?
Pure ES2 is comprised of two components: On-Demand capacity (paid as-you-go) and Reserve capacity (committed for the length of your service term). The minimum commitment is 100TB of effective capacity over a term of 12 Months.
The reserve capacity is your minimum amount and is charged at a discounted rate. The on-demand capacity is charged at the standard rate but gives you the flexibility to expand and shrink both your usage and payments, as required. Would you ever shrink your storage use in your DC? It’s rare but it does happen.
Pure (via a partner) bills you quarterly in arrears for that usage on a flat $/GB/month basis. The minimum reserve commitment always applies and is billed upfront on a discounted $/GB basis. The good thing about this is that the minimum charges are for actual used effective capacity, not merely the provisioned effective capacity.
Hybrid Isn’t a Bad Word
There’s also an option to connect the arrays (via hybrid cloud connectivity) to AWS and Azure. Why would you want to do that? It provides the opportunity to derive further value from that data you have. This is likely going to be through additional processing in the cloud accessing your storage. While there is a case to be made for storing backups on cloud storage, this isn’t going to necessarily have great appeal for the lift and shift crowd.
I’m Not Convinced
If you’ve worked in enterprise storage for any length of time, it might seem like the model is a bit too good to be true. But you expand and shrink both your usage and payments, as needed, and I believe there are situations where this model would work.
The other great thing is that Pure configures, upgrades and expands the capacity as needed (without performance disruption or downtime) to meet your requirements over time. This takes away some of the burden of maintaining your own infrastructure.
You can also use Pure ES2 as a way to try-before-you-buy with a 12-month term and no commitment afterwards. If you like it you can extend your agreement or transition to a net-new CapEx array.
Finally, Pure will deploy enough capacity into your environment to give you the reserve baseline plus at least a 25% buffer. No more scrambling for storage when DBAs go wild or a new project arrives in the DC from leftfield.
Can You Dig It?
Infrastructure can be hard to build, operate and maintain. It can also be costly. Enterprises are moving to cloud-like consumption models for a lot of their on-premises infrastructure because these consumption models are helping make the management and operation of these services easier and (potentially) cheaper. That doesn’t mean that moving to OpEx from CapEx will automatically reduce your costs, but it can help. Coupled with some of Pure’s sizing guarantees and you start to see how a product like ES2 can become a very handy tool to deliver high performance storage for your enterprise’s applications. I’d like to reiterate though that you need to understand your workloads before you opt for this kind of service delivery model.