Pure Storage drives Flash ever deeper into data centres

Pure Storage drives Flash ever deeper into data centres

Pure Storage is backing its MSP partners as they strive to do business more like CSPs.

Charles Giancarlo (Pure Storage)

Charles Giancarlo (Pure Storage)

Credit: Pure Storage

Pure Storage is pushing its flash-based platforms deeper into data centres as it continues to challenge its much larger storage rivals.

The company's quest for data storage domination moved up a gear at the beginning of March, with the launch of FlashBlade//E, which targets the roughly 80 per cent of data that is not considered "hot" or primary and which is still mostly stored on less expensive disc-based systems.

Now, however, Pure Storage is delivering a product that it says is not only price competitive, but offers further savings in the form of longer life, much lower power consumption, ease of management, sustainability and a much smaller data centre footprint.

"Before taking offsets, it is better to use less power in the first place," CEO Charles Giancarlo told Reseller News after attending the company's Asian kick-off and a week of NZ sight-seeing.

But technology is only part of Pure's equation: all of the above is delivered as a service and virtualised, allowing data across all workloads to be managed by policy.

Globally, there is little doubt Pure has momentum and is winning market share. At the beginning of March, it announced revenue of US$2.75 billion, up 26 per cent during its financial year to 5 February. Annual recurring subscriptions of US$1.1 billion were up 30 per cent.

"We are still a market share taker," Giancarlo said. 

Exactly how the market share equation is playing out locally is harder to gauge. Pure Storage has not filed financial statements in New Zealand, perhaps indicating its local revenue is still below the $11 million threshold where that becomes a requirement.

The company is yet to file its 2023 accounts In Australia, however revenue to 31 January 2022 was A$36.7 million, only slightly ahead of the $36.5 million reported for 2021.

Dave Rosenberg, managing director of distributor Westcon NZ, said he had seen Pure go from strength to strength, with good programmes for partners that drove profitable opportunities.

"The have been one of our star vendor partners in our Westcon portfolio for several years in NZ and other markets in the APAC region," he said.  

Being 100 per cent flash and 100 per cent channel and having several purchasing options had seen Pure exceed and sometimes create market opportunities in NZ.

"The Evergreen subscription model provides the partners and their customers a level of technology protection we have not seen before," Rosenberg said.

The Flashstack solution, including Cisco's data centre technology and an option for managed service providers (MSPs) to buy as-a-service, had proved a particular competitive advantage for partners when bidding for deals.

"New Zealand is going very well for us," country manager Stuart Blythe said. "It is one of the geographies that has taken up the as-a-service method of buying."

They were also appreciating Pure's "Evergreen" subscriptions, which keep the infrastructure constantly up to date without needing to take the systems down.

Stuart Blythe (Pure Storage)Credit: Supplied
Stuart Blythe (Pure Storage)

A major channel to market for Pure, however, is also through MSPs, who provide services on top. MSPs appreciate the technology because it helps their mission to look and act more like cloud service providers and provide access through APIs "without human middleware".

Pure's smallest product is still a $50,000 unit and for now at least there are no thoughts about going smaller.

"We've talked about going lower, but it's a very different business model," Giancarlo said. "There is still a way to go in our core market before we enter a new one."

The MSP channel also serves to deliver access to many smaller customers.

Pure's as-a-service model also helped MSPs align their costs with revenue, something they found "really attractive", Blythe said.

Giancarlo said an essential point of difference for Pure was that it's as-a-service offer was not a lease. It offered service level agreements and customers only paid for what they used, not what they had contractually reserved.

"We sell an SLA, like AWS," he said. "We don't quote a machine, we quote a capability."

There was also an SLA for energy usage, he said was unique in the business.

Coming down the line were offerings that would address warm data, expected this year, and cold data, or archives, next year, all with 1/10 the space, power and cooling of disc, Giancarlo said.

For Blythe, the excitement is around products that address segments of the market that Pure would not have traditionally had access to such as CCTV and imaging through niche service providers.

"We've done a pretty good job of embedding our technology in a lot of their product offerings," he said. "We see the opportunity for them to expand their product offerings to go after some of the workloads that traditionally we would not have done."

That does not mean a significant expansion in partner numbers, he said. Instead, the focus will be on bringing existing partners up to speed with certifications and support.

Pure operates a two-tier model outside of the US. Locally, Westcon is the distributor and resellers, MSPs and the global systems integrators procure through them. 

Giancarlo said outside of the US the shift towards a CSP/MSP model, where increasingly CSP-like MSPs manage both environments, was allowing customers to outsource to the MSP's environment as well as the cloud in a hybrid arrangement.

Giancarlo said Pure was continuing to invest in the business as high technology as opposed to looking at it as a commodity. That was not something that was easily replicable, he said, because while Pure invested 20 per cent of revenue on R&D, competitor investment was constrained by their business models.

"I think that's worked out well for us," he said. "It really differentiates us from our competition."

The prospect of a recession also did not phase him.

"As you move into a recession, the attraction of a subscription programme becomes much higher," Giancarlo said.

Pure Storage is distributed by Westcon in New Zealand. Known customers include high-tech manufacturer Rakon, real estate agency Barfoot & Thompson and St George's Hospital in Christchurch.

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Tags flashstorageData Centeras a servicePure Storage



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