Harbour IT to offer all-flash storage cloud

IT services company predicts all of its customers will use flash storage within 12 months.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Driven by the rates of virtualisation in the industry and a willingness by the local market to adopt new technologies, Pure Storage expanded its operations into Australia and New Zealand.

One of the first customers to trial the technology, Harbour IT, is so impressed with the results it has seen that it is planning to use the technology to create an all-flash storage cloud offering called Pure Cloud.

Flash: a game-changer

Speaking exclusively to ZDNet at the launch of Pure Storage in Sydney today, Harbour IT co-founder Charles Tym said that flash storage is a game-changing technology for enterprises.

"It's a once-in-15-year change in technology, and it's a change that is going to go through incredibly quickly — the cost justification case will stay compelling."

Harbour IT has been using flash storage for six months, and in that time has condensed its storage needs from 7 terabytes to 700 gigabytes thanks to Pure Storage's software-implemented inline de-duplication and compression technology. The lower storage requirement has allowed the company to go from 30 rack units of storage to eight, while speeding up performance of its applications uo to tenfold.

"We ran internally a Citrix deployment, and the user experience wasn't always consistent, but when we put the flash in, it's totally consistent. That's made a big difference," Tym said. "We did an evaluation of all the different [storage technology], and honestly, it was a no-brainer to put the flash in, because the cost per gigabyte was the same."

"I think in less than 12 months, all of our customers will be on flash technology."

Tym was impressed by the turnaround of setting up a Pure Storage storage solution compared to the traditional vendors used in the past.

"Whether it is EMC or Hitachi Data Systems or NetApp, when you buy a SAN, there's normally a laundry list of parts that have to be ordered, and they are normally not kept in Australia, they have got to come from overseas."

"And you have to get the bill of materials together, it has to be checked by an engineer, then you have to talk about the pricing, then you have to place the order, then you have to wait for it to come in, then it all has to be configured like a big Meccano set, because all the disks have to be put in, all of the cables have to be connected up, all of the shelves have got to be installed — it just takes a long time.

"The last time we did it, it took nearly four months, and we were trying to do it as quickly as possible. It's just a fact of life with those sort of systems, because of the nature of all the bits and pieces you've got to put together, that it takes a long time."

While the premium tier offered by Harbour IT will soon be running on flash, there will still be room for traditional hard disk-based storage.

By contrast, Tym said that thanks to local distributors, he was able to deploy a Pure Storage solution in days.

"It was two part numbers, and all the cables came with it, so it was just a matter of us putting it in the rack, formatting only took a couple of minutes ... it can be done in hours.

"It's a very, very tidy solution," he said.

While the premium tier offered by Harbour IT will soon be running on flash, there will still be room for traditional hard disk-based storage.

"The option it gives them is that they can put their data-intensive applications on the flash array, and if they need lower cost, they can just put that on traditional storage," Tym said.

Pure Storage will not be selling direct to the public in Australia, and has signed Observatory Crest as the distributor across Australia and New Zealand, as well as a number of resellers.

The storage company recently completed a $150 million funding round and counts Samsung, Redpoint Ventures, and VMware founder Dianne Green among its investors.

Company president David Hatfield told ZDNet that the company is not interesting in going public anytime soon. Hatfield said that the company is not done from a product perspective, does not want to incur the extra overheads of going public, and that it is easier to hire engineers prior to any initial public offering.

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