Pure Storage is still hunting in the storage market, the competition is just milking it, says CEO

AUSTIN — Despite a mixed-bag of a second quarter that ended with the departure of the company’s chief financial officer, in addition to a crowded storage market that features multiple legacy heavy hitters, Charles Giancarlo is bullish about the future of Pure Storage.

“We’ve developed a sales marketing operation that is very competitive, and in American slang, we call them hunters,” the chief executive officer for Pure Storage told reporters at the company’s Accelerate event Monday. “In a more mature organization you set up a sales force that largely continues to sell into your install base.”

Those mature organizations, such as Dell and HPE, Giancarlo indicated, are “milking” an enterprise storage market that has remained largely stagnant when it comes to growth. IDC’s first 2019 quarter enterprise storage tracker numbers revealed a flat storage revenue market, slipping 0.6 per cent year-over-year to US$13.37 billion. Pure Storage in the meantime experienced a 22.4 per cent and 28 per cent year-over-year revenue growth in Q1 and Q2, respectively.

“Most storage vendors have not been investing in that market. I think it’s held storage back in terms of innovation, held it back in terms of performance and overall growth,” he added.

But there was more to the afternoon than a steady stream of Giancarlo dunks on storage competitors, and while the announcements that preceded the CEO’s time on stage weren’t groundbreaking – it was also absent of any significant update regarding the acquisition of Compuverde – they left no doubt in anybody’s mind as to where the pure flash vendor’s priorities are.

Cloud data services

Pure Storage announced the general availability of Cloud Block Store for AWS. Previously in beta, the new cloud data service allows customers to run Pure arrays in AWS and move the data between multiple clouds and local hardware.

“A couple of years ago, a lot of customers talked about going all in on cloud, but that’s really been abated,” said Matt Kixmoeller, Pure Storage’s vice-president of strategy. “Folks have realized there’s a value to on-prem and a value to the cloud and that they both achieve different things. Customers are now looking for integration between these two worlds.”

Kixmoeller suggested competitors that went down a similar path in recent years didn’t actually put in the same work. They simply “took their arrays and put them in collocation data centres that were connected to the cloud using things like DirectNet.”

This isn’t real cloud, he indicated, and comes with added latency.

Cloud Block Store for AWS is available as a subscription service through Pure Storage and its channel partners. It can also be found through the AWS marketplace.

CloudSnap, a key backup component of Pure’s cloud vision, is now available for Microsoft Azure. The service first launched with AWS last November and is now generally available.

Pure Storage also announced VM Analytics Pro, a new feature bundle offered within Pure1 that helps customers gain insights within VM environments much faster.

New FlashArray for Tier 2 data

Complementing FlashBlade – Pure Storage’s scale-out storage for infrastructure that disaggregates compute, networking, and data storage – is FlashArray C, described by Kixmoeller as the industry’s “first capacity-optimized all-flash array.”

It’s just another FlashArray – and is now generally available – but can manage different flash code. It provides customers with a more compelling option when they’re looking for something to manage secondary storage workloads, unlike other hybrid storage offers, which are still often in the form of disk-based solutions.

“Instead of having many many Tier 2 arrays, they can have a much more consolidated, all-flash experience,” explained Kixmoeller.

It’s not a conference unless you talk about AI

Built on Pure Storage’s file and object system, FlashBlade, and its joint AI-Ready Infrastructure (AIRI ) offering with NVIDIA, the AI Data Hub is the storage vendor’s re-designed end-to-end AI solution. It basically helps enterprises fast-track their way to gaining better insights and build new solutions.

“It’s less of a rebrand, and more of a re-architecture,” said Rob Lee, Pure Storage’s vice-president and chief architect. The idea is to decentralize the back end processes involved with building new solutions, remove the traditional analytics infrastructure that’s in place and get data scientists working on what actually matters.

Lee used the development of autonomous cars as an example. In this case, a group of people will drive the cars around, document those trips with video, then return back to base so data scientists can scrub the videos and gain insights from those trips.

“It turns out that 99 per cent of the video isn’t interesting, because human drivers don’t like getting into accidents. If you’re trying to train a self-driving car, you’re searching for those two to three seconds where a ball bounces across a street,” he explained.

It’s those few seconds of footage that ultimately help an autonomous vehicle learn about what to do when an obstacle suddenly appears on the road. And getting data scientists to identify those few seconds faster is the end goal.

From one decade to the next

This year’s Accelerate event is a graduation event, said Kixmoeller

“We’re graduating from Pure’s first decade and heading into the next one,” he said. “That first decade was all about perfecting flash storage arrays.”

So what’s in store for the next decade? According to Kixmoeller and the rest of Pure Storage, a lot of heads in the cloud, and lots of automation.

“If you look at the data growth we’re all experiencing, without the admin team growth, AI is not a luxury that automates the environment, it’s a necessity.”

*Alex Coop’s travel and hotel accommodations for the Accelerate event were covered by Pure Storage. The vendor did not review this article prior to publication.

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Alex Coop
Alex Coophttp://www.itwc.ca
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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