Pure Storage, a well-funded ($55M) valley startup, came out of hiding last week with a startling claim: enterprise flash that is cheaper1,2,3 than disk.

1Cheaper after compressing and deduping the data.

2Cheaper after using almost all the flash capacity, which you can’t do with disks because performance suffers.

3Cheaper compared to the most expensive disk-based enterprise storage you can buy.

Your mileage will vary
4 years ago an EMC VP predicted that flash would replace high-end disks in 2010. That didn’t happen. Why?

After 5 years of hype, enterprises are still leery of flash. Endurance, reliability, data integrity, security, integration – all unanswered questions. At least by the other IT guys in town, even if vendors think they’ve nailed it.

So people buy the known quantity: high-end drives.

The StorageMojo take
Kudos to Pure’s marketing for making a bold, attention-grabbing statement. Too often marketing falls back on the trite-and-true “faster, better, cheaper.”

But IT wants to solve old problems while not introducing new ones. The 10x performance boost would be enough, if IT believed.

Pure’s challenge – as well as other companies with similar products – is to convince IT that not only is flash ready for primetime – but that compression and dedup are too.

And once they do that, why not use them with disks, as well? As Nimble Storage has found, inline compression is now easily handled in software on multi-core chips.

With raw SATA drives down to 3¢/GB, storage vendors have ample opportunity to squeeze costs out. The flash/disk competition will be good for all of us.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. The storage high-end is more active than its been in 15 years. Good!