FlashBlade unlocks the value of data for unstructured workloads: Analytics, Data Science, Big Data, Machine Learning, Genomics, Life Sciences, Gaming, Media & Entertainment
Pure Storage (NYSE: PSTG), the market’s leading independent solid-state array vendor, today announced that FlashBlade, the company’s second product built for high-performance unstructured workloads, is now generally available and is shipping today in both 8.8TB and 52TB blade capacities with the Elasticity 1.2 software.
Modern engineers, scientists and developers seek a new type of storage platform – one that can deliver lightning-fast performance across a massive expanse of data and connect clients simply and easily. FlashBlade provides that platform without the complexity or cost of legacy or exotic systems.
FlashBlade, which was first announced in March 2016, has been in Directed Availability since July 2016, and has gained significant traction across a variety of industries and verticals – all driven by the expansion and analysis of mission-critical data. Today’s GA announcement enables FlashBlade to be sold broadly by Pure Storage channel partners worldwide.
With the relentless digitization of the global economy, data is at the core of competitiveness and differentiation. Organizations have started investing heavily in both data science professionals and tools to mine value from data. Data-intensive storage workloads are thus proliferating – real-time and big data analytics, genomics sequencing, advanced analytics in professional sports, financial analysis, oil & gas exploration and large-scale online gaming platforms – with each driving a new and ever-increasing set of storage requirements.
“More and more IT organizations are looking at big data analytics to help drive higher revenues, improve customer service, identify new market opportunities, and inform better business decisions. The workload requirements for big data analytics are not well met with traditional storage architectures, and in 2016 the first revenues were generated by a new all-flash array platform type – big data flash – specifically architected for these types of environments,” said Eric Burgener, Research Director of Storage, IDC. “Big data flash platforms are optimized to handle very large unstructured data sets with high degrees of concurrency while delivering flash performance and reliability. FlashBlade from Pure Storage, already deployed across a number of different verticals, is one of the earliest entrants into this high growth new market, which IDC expects will drive $1.05B in revenues by 2020.”
Organizations have accelerated the transition from analyzing historical data in the classic batch mode towards real-time and iterative analytics, notably driven by the adoption of Apache Spark and similar technologies, as big data transforms to “big + fast” data. Modern analytics, coupled with scalable high performance file and object storage, have become the fundamental building block to accelerate innovation, reach customers and prospects in real time, and drive informed decisions. Without data, organizations risk leaving money, productivity and competitive advantage on the table.
“FlashBlade helps Pure deliver on its core promise – to help customers in all industries gain advantage from their data on a massive scale. FlashBlade is not only optimized for the rapidly expanding world of unstructured data, but also designed to revolutionize the way organizations innovate with that data,” said Scott Dietzen, CEO, Pure Storage. “Through the incredible work of our beta and directed availability customers, we’ve seen the potential of FlashBlade not only to alter the face of engineering and creative workloads, but to change what’s possible in medicine, science, and security.”
Improving Personalized Healthcare with Genomics
With FlashBlade, genomics labs and research facilities can conduct secondary analysis workflow to sequence genomes, as well as filter, reassemble and align reads to construct a sequence. FlashBlade also enables the conversion of data into base pairs and the computation of quality scores, and allows organizations to convert raw genomic data.
The ADAM/Big Data Genomics project, working in the UC Berkeley EECS department, builds healthcare tools and technologies that can be transferred from academia to clinical care. Researchers and graduate students interact with massive data sets as they look to make correlations within the data, which makes visualization a key to success. FlashBlade delivers the performance and speed required to run difficult, data-intensive visualizations as the data is set in three dimensions.
Once the research is complete and correlations have been established, those patterns and findings can be used by medical professionals to adjust clinical diagnostics in real-time. This allows patients to begin critical, life-saving treatments immediately with personalized care based on genetic predispositions.
“When our researchers want to visualize a pattern or interaction, it creates a significant tax on our storage systems. Visualizations inherently require so much data to run, that they are nearly impossible to run smoothly,” said Professor Anthony D. Joseph, a core faculty member of UC Berkeley’s Center for Computational Biology (CCB). “FlashBlade removes that roadblock for our researchers, which means our findings positively impact public health faster than ever before. If a doctor knows exactly which treatment to prescribe a patient based on that patient’s genetic makeup, that patient is going to recover sooner. It’s that simple.”
Adding a Competitive Edge for Championship Teams
Analytics has had a profound impact on professional sports, as illustrated by the book and film Moneyball, and the subsequent trend of analytics-driven decision making across major league sports. Across professional sports, including baseball, football, hockey, basketball, motorsports and more, sports analytics and advanced statistics have become one of the most critical trends across professional athletics. From situational analysis and quality of competition to the dissection of athlete video, the data generated and used by professional sports franchises and organizations – much of which directly impacts personnel and organizational decisions – has grown exponentially over the past decade.
For high-performance workloads like real-time sensor data, player video or expansive statistical database management, FlashBlade is a natural fit. Simple to manage and in a compact 4U form factor, FlashBlade offers organizations with busy travel schedules and extensive set-up a mobile option for on-premises.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Formula 1 team brings its arrays trackside from race to race, which act as a compact, mobile data center to store and process real-time data from nearly 250 sensors across each car.
“Formula One is, inherently, a mobile experience. Everything from the car, personnel, hospitality equipment and full IT infrastructure comes with us from city to city – and that includes our storage,” said Matt Harris, Head of IT for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. “The level of performance we expect from our storage is commensurate with what we expect from the car. It has to be the fastest to gain a competitive advantage. FlashBlade provides the high-performance infrastructure required to run real-time analytics platforms that help give us that championship edge.”
Reducing Environmental Impact Through Data
As they become more powerful, computers can analyze the earth’s data at increasingly higher degrees of resolution. This allows scientists to pinpoint oil reservoirs, identify optimal points for least invasive entry, and provides important computer analysis into potential environmental leaks or hazards.
Prior to the start of a project, oil and gas companies engage engineering firms with a massive libraries of geophysical maps. Those firms analyze the location of the proposed project on behalf of oil and gas companies to ensure that any planned drilling, intrusion or excavation is done with a detailed understanding of what exists below the surface. For these firms, the challenge is to provide customers with that data as quickly and efficiently as possible to move the project forward.
“Drilling and modeling is a complex field of physics. The scientists who lead and design these projects are highly specialized, and they are busy. The less time they spend waiting on a computer, the faster their organizations make money,” said Par Botes, VP of FlashBlade, Pure Storage. “The impact of fast but thorough analysis of earth data goes beyond quick delivery to customers – it means their projects will be safer both for their people, and for the planet.”
Better Banking for Credit Unions with All-Flash Infrastructure
For SaaS and cloud providers, all-flash infrastructure is a key differentiator in accelerating time to market, improving service level agreements and opening up new customer opportunities. In financial services particularly, performance and reliability are the most critical requirements.
Today, many credit unions are still equipped with aging, legacy infrastructure. CUProdigy, a provider of cloud-based software for credit unions, delivers a Software-as-a-Service platform that allows credit unions to modernize by running all operations in the cloud – from desktops, servers, email, and file share to the mission-critical banking system itself.
In order to maximize the benefit of that transition, it was important to CUProdigy that its infrastructure and tools were modern through-and-through. Additionally, the company needed a solution that could support a high degree of mixed workloads without having to reconfigure or specifically designate the storage system for any particular type of workload. Enter FlashBlade.
UK’s Sunak to build bridge to recovery with more spending
By William Schomberg
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will next week promise yet more spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.
Sunak, who is due to announce a new budget plan on March 3, has already racked up more than 280 billion pounds ($397 billion) in coronavirus spending and tax cuts, pushing Britain’s borrowing to a peacetime record.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to lift England’s current lockdown entirely only in late June so Sunak is expected to rely heavily on the debt markets again.
His job retention scheme, paying 80% of employees’ wages, will probably be extended beyond a scheduled April 30 expiry date, further inflating its estimated cost of 70 billion pounds. Support for the self-employed looks set to stay too.
Businesses are demanding Sunak keep other lifelines, such as exempting the firms hardest hit by the lockdown from property taxes and giving them a value-added tax cut.
And calls are growing for an extension of a 20 pounds-a-week emergency welfare increase due to expire in April.
The Times newspaper said Sunak would prolong his stamp duty property tax break for three months until the end of June.
Sunak hopes that by then Britain will be emerging from its deep freeze thanks to Europe’s fastest vaccination programme.
Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane likens the economy to a “coiled spring” primed with the savings that households have built up after being stuck at home.
A strong recovery would mean a jump in tax revenues, doing some of the Treasury’s job of fixing the public finances.
Rupert Harrison, an aide to former finance minister George Osborne, said Sunak should not try to slash Britain’s 2.1 trillion-pound debt mountain, equivalent to 98% of GDP – a ratio unthinkable for decades.
Instead he should write new budget rules tied to the cost of debt servicing, which is close to record lows.
“We can safely carry higher levels of debt than before,” Harrison told a webinar organised by Onward, a think-tank.
But the scale of Britain’s borrowing is raising questions about how long Sunak and Johnson can stick to their promises not to raise key taxes, made to voters before the 2019 election.
The huge costs of tackling the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are likely to ease in the months ahead, meaning this year’s 400 billion pound budget deficit should narrow.
But Britain is probably on course to be stuck with a gap of 60 billion pounds between revenues and day-to-day spending by the mid-2020s, the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank says.
In a nod to that, Sunak is expected to start raising Britain’s low corporation tax rate.
The Sunday Times said the rate would rise steadily to bring in an extra 12 billion pounds a year by the time of the next election, due in 2024.
Other options include ending a freeze on fuel duty increases which has been in place since 2012 and looks at odds with Britain’s plans to be carbon net zero by 2050.
But higher fuel prices now would hurt the haulage industry, already struggling with Brexit-related disruption, and could alienate working-class voters who backed Johnson in 2019.
Higher capital gains tax or lower pension incentives would anger lawmakers in Johnson’s Conservative Party.
David Gauke, a former deputy finance minister, said the only big revenue-raising options were the ones that Johnson has promised not to touch – income tax, VAT and national insurance contributions.
“In the end, they are going to have to say, sorry we just can’t responsibly maintain that manifesto commitment,” Gauke told the Onward webinar.
($1 = 0.7046 pounds)
(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Catherine Evans)
Women inch towards equal legal rights despite COVID-19 risks, World Bank says
By Sonia Elks
(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Women gained legal rights in nearly 30 countries last year despite disruption due to COVID-19, but governments must do more to ease the disproportionate burden shouldered by women during the pandemic, the World Bank said on Tuesday.
Nations should prioritise gender equality in economic recovery efforts, the bank said, warning that progress on equal rights was threatened by heavier job losses in female-dominated sectors, increased childcare and a surge in domestic violence.
“This pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities that disadvantage girls and women,” David Malpass, World Bank Group president, said in a statement accompanying the annual “Women, Business and the Law” report.
“Women should have the same access to finance and the same rights to inheritance as men and must be at the centre of our efforts toward an inclusive and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A total of 27 countries reformed laws or regulations to give women more economic equality with men in 2019-20, said the report, which grades 190 nations on laws and regulations that affect women’s economic opportunities.
While countries in all of the world’s regions made improvements in the new index – with most reforms addressing pay and parenthood, women on average still have only about three quarters of the rights granted to men, the report found.
Notably, nearly 40 countries brought in extra benefit or leave policies to help employees balance their jobs with the extra childcare needs created by coronavirus restrictions.
But such measures were “few and far between” worldwide and will probably not go far enough to tackle the “motherhood penalty” many women face in the workplace, it said.
The report also noted separate data from a United Nations tool tracking gender-sensitive pandemic responses which found 70% of such measures addressed violence, with just 10% targeting women’s economic security.
The pandemic could result in “a backslide on various hard-won advances in women’s rights achieved in recent years”, said Antonia Kirkland, the global lead on legal equality at women’s rights organisation Equality Now.
“This disruption is a unique opportunity for countries to rebuild more resilient, inclusive and prosperous economies,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.
“But this can only be achieved alongside the removal of sex discriminatory laws that prevent women from participating fully and equally in economic, social and family life.”
(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Digital health checks vital to travel recovery, Heathrow says
By Sarah Young
LONDON (Reuters) – Digital health checks will be vital to a recovery in foreign travel from the COVID-19 pandemic, Britain’s Heathrow airport said on Wednesday, after a collapse in passenger numbers saw it plunge to a 2 billion pound ($2.8 billion) loss last year.
The UK government said on Monday trips abroad could restart in mid-May as its vaccination campaign kicks in, sparking a surge in holiday bookings.
It is also looking into a digital health passport or app to help ease restrictions, while conceding the benefits have to be weighed against potential risks to civil liberties.
But Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said digital technology, and international agreements, would be vital to reviving a travel industry on its knees.
“It’s absolutely critical and that’s one of the main things that government needs to work on,” he said, when asked about a digital health app.
At present, paper checks on COVID-19 test results and passenger locator forms take 20 minutes per traveller at Heathrow, making travel near impossible should passenger numbers rise from current low levels.
Britain’s biggest airport said it was “very likely” people would be able to go on their summer holidays, but expects passenger numbers will take time to recover.
The airport, west of London, is forecasting 25 million passengers in the second half of the year, meaning it would be operating at about 50% capacity.
Heathrow, owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, the Qatar Investment Authority, China Investment Corp and others, last year lost its title as Europe’s busiest airport to Paris after its flight schedules shrank more than those of its rivals.
Passenger numbers plunged 73% to 22 million people last year, with half of those travelling during January and February, before the pandemic shut down global travel in March.
Heathrow said it had 3.9 billion pounds of liquidity, giving it sufficient resources to keep going with low levels of traffic until 2023, despite the 2 billion loss before tax for 2020.
The airport urged the government to provide business tax breaks for big airports, something only available to smaller airports so far, and to extend the furlough job support scheme to help it financially before the recovery takes off.
($1 = 0.7044 pounds)
(Reporting by Sarah Young. Editing by James Davey and Mark Potter)
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