Flash storage pioneer Pure Storage is getting into cloud backup, allowing customers to deduplicate data and protect it on AWS.
Pure Storage this week introduced ObjectEngine//A270, a cloud backup target for Pure Storage FlashBlade NAS appliances. The Pure Storage all-flash ObjectEngine is based on the StorReduce inline cloud deduplication Pure acquired in 2018. Shipments of ObjectEngine are expected to start in March.
Pure Storage also formally launched the DirectFlash Fabric it first revealed in January for FlashArray//X block storage. The DirectFlash Fabric network adapter runs NVMe over Fabrics via Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) over Converged Ethernet to optimize flash performance.
ObjectEngine for rapid restore from cloud
Pure Storage moved into backup unintentionally following the 2016 release of FlashBlade as a high-performance system for unstructured data. Pure executives said customers with tight recovery times began backing up to FlashBlade, using the all-flash system for a use case normally served by slow, cheap spinning disk.
Pure Storage ObjectEngine//A270 extends FlashBade’s use for data protection into the cloud. The ObjectEngine appliance is a four-node base cluster in a 6U rack. The product moves data between local NVMe-based FlashBlade arrays and AWS S3 storage. StorReduce provides high-bandwidth data deduplication.
Pure Storage supports backup software from Cohesity, Commvault, Veritas, Veeam and Rubrik on ObjectEngine. Brian Schwarz, Pure Storage vice president of product management for FlashBlade, said ObjectEngine appliances allow Pure Storage all-flash customers to retire disk-based backup systems such as Dell EMC Data Domain.
“People have good backup [with disk], but they don’t have good restore times with disk. We’re giving you the performance of flash with the elasticity of bursting into the cloud,” Schwarz said.
The StorReduce acquisition allowed Pure Storage to apply flash, S3 semantics and inline deduplication before traffic hits the WAN, said Steve McDowell, a senior analyst for storage and converged systems at Moor Insights & Strategy.
“StorReduce lets you dedupe on site and move the on-premises deduped data to AWS. Object-based flash is what I want for my snapshots, my backups and lots of other data,” McDowell said. “I can see ObjectEngine being used as a replication target for other [vendors’] storage” in select environments, McDowell said.
Pure said ObjectEngine also will be available as a virtual storage appliance in late 2019. The OE//Cloud model will protect more than 100 PB in AWS, with 11 nines of availability.
Support for Ethernet-based NVMe flash fabric
Pure’s first NVMe all-flash device was the dual-ported NVMe non-volatile RAM card for FlashArray//M, which launched in 2015 as enabling technology for Pure Evergreen cloud architecture.
The initial FlashArray systems used commercially available SSDs, but Pure replaced SSDs with software-defined DirectFlash custom NAND modules when FlashArray//X launched in 2017.
DirectFlash Fabric provides connectivity between FlashArray//X block arrays and rack servers. It requires an RDMA-enabled Ethernet network interface card for controller-to-shelf connectivity. Customers can get DirectFlash Fabric with a firmware upgrade.
The NVM Express industry consortium governs standards for NVMe and NVMe over Fabrics technologies, including development of Fibre Channel and RDMA protocols.
Chadd Kenney, Pure Storage vice president of product for FlashArray, said the vendor sees Linux-based NoSQL databases and other “direct attached-storage used inside native applications” as early use cases for NVMe-oF.
Kenney said Pure Storage will support NVMe-oF for Fibre Channel this year and plans to add NVMe over TCP by 2020.
Today at Microsoft Business Forward in Paris, France we connected with hundreds of global business leaders to share our vision for Microsoft Business Applications. In addition, I had the privilege to unveil new Dynamics 365 AI and mixed reality applications, and new solutions to help businesses unlock deeper insights from data across their organizations.
The new capabilities we introduce biannually in our October and April releases advance our commitment to remove barriers to innovation and operational excellence; a vision reinforced by amazing stories of companies evolving their business as usual. ExxonMobil is a great example. This week, we announced that the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company has deployed Dynamics 365 to help improve operations in one of the world’s most important oil-producing regions.
ExxonMobil joins a growing roster of organizations deploying Microsoft Business Applications to help foster innovation by unlocking siloed data and enabling a holistic, 360-degree view of the business, customers and employees. Built on a unified data platform, businesses can apply intelligence across workloads, giving people the ability to reason over data wherever it resides, predict trends, and drive action. And with adaptable business applications, business professionals can build and customize solutions, allowing people and processes to stay ahead of trends and market forces.
Moving business forward with AI, mixed reality, and data insight solutions
Today’s announcements accelerate our vision and the impact we can deliver to customers, building on Dynamics 365 AI and mixed reality solutions announced in September 2018. The following new solutions are reflected in the updated April 2019 release notes available starting today.
Dynamics 365 + AI
This spring, we are continuing to invest in new and expanded data and AI services for unprecedented business intelligence, security, and insight-driven innovation and customer experiences.
Dynamics 365 Customer Insights provide anyone—from non-technical business users to analysts and data scientists—with a deeper understanding of customers, enabling intelligent insights and action that can help you personalize experiences, retain customers, and build loyalty. Tivoli, the Denmark-based operator of the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world, aims to be one of the first organizations to leverage Dynamics 365 Customer Insights. They are working to utilize artificial intelligence and the application to unify guest data siloed across databases, generate actionable insights, engage guests intelligently, and deliver personalized experiences, whether in marketing messages, loyalty offers, or during face-to-face interactions at the park. Dynamics 365 Customer Insights is now available for preview and coming to general availability in April. Visit the Dynamics 365 Customer Insights web page to learn more.
Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service empowers business users to easily create and manage AI-powered virtual agents that resolve routine problems and requests. With an initial focus on customer service, future capabilities will extend virtual agent solutions across a range of customer experience scenarios to automate problem solving. This new cloud service, launching in public preview in April, empowers those closest to the customer to create, deploy, and manage virtual agents that automate solutions to problems without the need for data science or coding expertise. This will help reduce the time and costs to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection is a new cloud-based anti-fraud solution for e-commerce merchants designed to drive down fraud loss, increase bank acceptance rates to yield higher revenue, and improve the online shopping experience of its customers. Enterprises will benefit from the same technology deployed within Microsoft to dramatically reduce fraud loss rates and false positive rates while increasing bank acceptance rates, an achievement recognized by The Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS) as a finalist for the 2019 Franz Edelman Award for achievements in advanced analytics, operations research, and management science. A public preview will be made available in April 2019.
Dynamics 365 + Mixed Reality
The adoption of mixed reality solutions for Microsoft Business Applications in 2018 has been inspiring, with real-world success in sectors ranging from manufacturing, automotive, and energy, particularly with a field service workforce. Toyota’s North America Production Engineering team has been using Dynamics 365 Layout and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist on Microsoft HoloLens in their North America manufacturing centers. Dynamics 365 Layout can improve business processes in valuable ways, such as the layout of digital twins of equipment on the manufacturing floor for safety and process verification, and creating innovative AR training practices through the use of holographic equipment instead of physical equipment in space. Dynamics 365 Remote Assist is in the early phases of being used to improve safety and reduce costs through the use of remote experts for equipment verification and incident response.
Today we’re announcing that we’re extending our Dynamics 365 mixed reality applications to mobile devices, so businesses can leverage mixed reality technology on devices they already have. Customers continue to tell us that HoloLens is the best mixed reality device for business, and that it’s a breakthrough for their many areas that require heads up, hands free work. But we also know that many employees carry AR-capable phones and tablets everywhere they go. These two new solutions will further enable employees to adopt mixed reality at work, no matter what device they use.
Dynamics 365 Product Visualize (coming to iOS in preview) empowers sellers to showcase and customize products in their actual environment, helping create a shared understanding between buyer and seller to accelerate complex sales processes. In industries like manufacturing, healthcare, and automotive where products are often complex, and highly configurable or simply too cumbersome to carry around, the need for product visualization is key. It builds a buyer’s confidence early in the sales process so costly change orders are reduced, and customer satisfaction is higher.Using Product Visualize, sellers can show products to customers directly within their Dynamics 365 for Sales workflow and spatial and configuration notes are all saved directly within the associated sales opportunity. Since sales commonly requires more than just one individual, sellers can leverage session content directly in Microsoft Teams to improve internal collaboration to deliver customer-oriented solutions that are critical to accelerating the sales process.
Dynamics 365 Remote Assist for mobile devices (coming to Android in preview) extends the capabilities of Dynamics 365 Remote Assist to Android mobile devices and allows employees to work together from anywhere, empowering technicians to solve problems faster the first time. With Remote Assist, technicians can use either Microsoft HoloLens or an Android mobile device to collaborate with remote experts and troubleshoot issues in context. This latest release of Remote Assist for mobile devices and HoloLens will also include mobile annotations, group calling, deeper integration with Dynamics 365 for Field Service, and improved accessibility features for the HoloLens app.
Empowering people with data insights
One of the reasons Microsoft Business Applications are so powerful is the ability to integrate intelligent tools and generate insights from data sourced from every corner of the organization, including customer transactions, marketing engagement, lead generation activities, and financial and operational data. We continually add new capabilities to bring data insights to life, such as the new Microsoft Forms Pro, that will be available in public preview this spring. This enterprise survey tool makes it easy for organizations to collect feedback across customer touchpoints using surveys, quizzes, and polls, correlate the feedback with business transactions, and derive actionable insights from the combined data. Additional details are available via the Microsoft Forms Pro preview.
The momentum continues with enhancements to the Microsoft Power Platform, combining Power BI, PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, and Common Data Service into an unmatched palette of tools to extend, customize, and integrate Dynamics 365 and Office 365 into your environment. These three applications form a framework that allows users to analyze data to gain insights, act on insights to drive intelligent business processes from the apps they build, and automate tasks to lower costs while reducing errors.
Today at Microsoft Business Forward, we shared how Virgin Atlantic is leveraging the Microsoft Power Platform to speed up application development and empower non-developers to create applications and automate workflows. From customer service and gate agents to maintenance crews and operations, teams across the company can leverage PowerApps and an extensible platform to get insights from data, and share those insights across the highly mobile workforce, enabling secure use of data by employees at airports, on planes, and in offices around the world—all with different roles and information requirements.
Teams have consolidated customer data into a single source of truth, providing service agents with a 360-degree view of customer preferences, enabling a travel experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible. On the operational side, the engineering compliance team is using PowerApps to replace paper-based safety and compliance audits. See today’s post to the PowerApps blog for a detailed look at how Virgin Atlantic is reimaging the passenger experience one PowerApp at a time.
Explore the Microsoft Business Applications April 2019 release
We look forward to sharing more updates and customer stories in the weeks and months ahead, including at the Virtual Launch event on April 2nd. In the meantime, view the April 2019 release notes for details about all features releasing from April 2019 through September 2019 for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.
Attempting to immunize healthcare customers against cyberattacks, StorageCraft introduced a bundle of products and services optimized for hospitals and medium-sized healthcare practices.
StorageCraft for Healthcare packages the vendor’s OneXafe appliance, integrated data protection software and cloud-based disaster recovery as a service, priced at $63,248 for 120 TB of capacity. None of the components are new — the same versions of StorageCraft backup hardware and software are available piecemeal and to nonhealthcare customers.
However, the bundle of StorageCraft backup and object storage can give healthcare organizations fast data recovery in case of an attack.
Shridar Subramanian, StorageCraft vice president of product management and marketing, said IT in the healthcare industry has a unique set of security challenges different from other segments such as education or finance. He pointed to statistics from insurance company Beazley that show healthcare firms file more ransomware claims than any other industry.
“They’re underserved in terms of the technology that they deploy, and it’s more than just backup. It’s data management and data protection as well,” Subramanian said.
He said StorageCraft is selling its bundle for healthcare through channel partners.
StorageCraft created bundles of its products last year targeting educational institutions.
Subramanian clarified that the StorageCraft backup and recovery tools do not prevent ransomware, which often gets through by exploiting human vulnerabilities rather than technological weaknesses. Instead, StorageCraft for Healthcare allows for a quick recovery to clean files.
“We do not actively prevent ransomware,” Subramanian said. “What we are about is being able to recover after the fact so that you have the data immediately and the whole healthcare organization does not stumble.”
Complex challenges for healthcare IT
Steven Hill, senior analyst at 451 Research, said healthcare organizations make tempting targets for ransomware attacks compared to other verticals because of an added layer of urgency.
Patient data locked behind unauthorized encryption from ransomware potentially creates a matter of life and death, and raises the likelihood that the ransom gets paid.
Steven Hillsenior analyst, 451 Research
“The criminals behind ransomware don’t really care who they target,” Hill said. “All they want is fast money, which makes healthcare a desirable target because of the relative urgency involved in recovering that data. Healthcare is a target that offers both a large potential pool of non-IT users to exploit and data that’s extremely important.”
Hill said it doesn’t help that hospitals often invest less in IT security than other industries that make rich ransomware targets, such as financial services.
George Crump, president of IT analyst firm Storage Switzerland, said healthcare organizations are also vulnerable due to medical devices. Crump said medical devices often come with their own computers, running hardware and software separate from the rest of a hospital’s IT infrastructure, while needing to connect to it all the same.
“These things are horribly maintained,” Crump said of the computers attached to medical devices. “The vendor is not an IT company, they’re an MRI company or whatever.
“So what I see happening in most cases is that infiltration happens on those compromised systems, not on the core IT systems. IT couldn’t touch those systems even if they wanted to. And unplugging a high-end medical device from your network and prohibiting the doctors from doing their job is equally unattractive.”
This particular vulnerability could be blocked if hospitals refused to buy medical devices that don’t meet their IT teams’ security guidelines, or if the vendors of these devices were responsible for keeping their systems upgraded. However, Crump expressed doubts that either of these situations ever happen.
And although Crump agreed the healthcare sector is a juicy ransomware target, he also warned that Beazley’s breach numbers may be inflated for healthcare. Crump and Hill pointed out that healthcare organizations are obligated to publicly report cyberattacks, while other industries (barring finance) do not have as strict reporting regulations.