From commodity to technology: Pure extends storage vision in evolving enterprise data market

Charlie Giancarlo, Pure Storage

Corn, wheat, barley, soybeans, oats … and data. They all require storage like any other commodity, yet Pure Storage Inc. has taken a different point of view when it comes to handling data.

Several years ago, the enterprise computing world appeared headed down a path where storage would be commoditized itself, viewed as nothing more than a device where massive amounts of information would reside until needed. However, Pure’s latest storage-as-a-service release for multicloud looks more like software for the modern information-technology organization.

Purity 6.0 includes expanded backup to cloud options, categorized data sets, authentication safeguards, and capacity expansion planning tools. Storage as a commodity? Really?

“You hear quite often, even from customers, that storage is commoditized,” said Charlie Giancarlo (pictured), chief executive officer and chairman of Pure. “We’re the one company that invests in storage as if it’s high technology. Data storage is a third of data center spend, and if it doesn’t continue to advance at the same pace or faster than everything else it becomes a major bottleneck.”

Giancarlo spoke with Dave Vellante, chief analyst at SiliconANGLE sister market research firm Wikibon and co-host of SiliconANGLE Media’s video studio theCUBE. They discussed the company’s recent earnings results, Pure’s value in the eyes of its customers, response to the global pandemic, new product releases, and the future of networking.

Earnings and spending momentum

Pure’s investment in storage technology appears to be paying off. An analysis of earnings results prepared by Vellante showed Pure second only to IBM Corp. in year-over-year growth during Q1 2020, well ahead of Dell Technologies Inc., NetApp Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. Vellante noted that IBM’s growth rate was somewhat misleading because IBM benefitted from an easy year-over-year comparison relative to a lackluster 2019 and the ‘drag along’ factor from IBM’s z15 mainframe introduced last year.

“We continue to take market share and grow 20% to 30% faster than the rest of the industry combined,” Giancarlo said. “Every quarter we’re ahead of the rest of the industry.”

Perhaps more significantly, recent quarterly survey data compiled by Enterprise Technology Research at the height of the U.S. lockdown in April offered positive news for Pure looking forward. ETR found that the vast majority of Pure’s customers were either keeping spending the same or planning to spend more.


This would appear to indicate that Pure’s messaging around its technology differentiation combined with new product releases are giving it traction in the competitive storage market.

“Most of our competitors are one-stop shops or the shopping mall of IT gear,” Giancarlo said. “We are the leader in innovation in the data storage market, and we’re being rewarded for that by penetrating more and more of the customer base.”

Protecting supply chain

Pure’s momentum, at a time when much of the world’s economy has experienced a setback from effects of the global pandemic, may be partly due to the company’s early focus on avoiding adverse supply chain impact. When its contacts in China began reporting spread of the virus and plant closures in early January, Pure moved quickly to find alternate sites that could make up the shortfall from the company’s Chinese suppliers.

The pandemic also took on personal meaning for Giancarlo when he contracted the virus following a trip to Spain in early March. He has since made a full recovery.

“There are many more unknowns than knowns,” said Giancarlo in his assessment of the COVID-19 impact for the remainder of 2020. “It’s going to take a while before this settles down, and we don’t know what it’s going to look like for the rest of this year or next year.”

Meanwhile, Pure is pressing ahead with the release of new products and services. In addition to Purity 6.0, the company also launched the third generation of FlashBlade, its high-performance, cloud-optimized file and object storage platform.

Modernized view of data and networking

Pure is also continuing to expand its vision of the Modern Data Experience, which Giancarlo introduced in September at Accelerate 2019. This approach views data as sustainable and seamless with any protocol while requiring that storage be simple and self-managing through automation.

Pure’s more modernized view of the enterprise data world recognizes change in the shifting sands of network architectures. This includes coming to terms with the fact that software-defined wide area networks are headed for obscurity, according to Giancarlo.

“I’m a big believer that even SD-WANs over time are going to become obsolete,” Giancarlo said. “What does SD-WAN mean when no one is in the local office? There is no internal network anymore. The internet is the future private network, and that requires a very different methodology for authentication and security.”

By viewing storage through the lens of technology rather than as a commodity, Pure has positioned itself squarely in the conversation around the value of data as a business asset. Its customers want to leverage that value with tools that work on-premises or in the cloud without needing a Ph.D. in quantum physics to make sense of it all.

“Our fundamental and basic value is that our company and our product are easy to do business with and easy to operate,” Giancarlo said. “We’re still less than 10% of the overall market, so the opportunity for us to grow is just tremendous.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s CUBE Conversations.

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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