Pure Storage ups ante on flash array services

Pure StorageAlready well known for its core technology, flash array vendor Pure Storage Inc. is looking to get further ahead of the competition by arming partners with a business model that changes the way users buy and maintain enterprise storage.

The Forever Flash model helps partners develop longer-lasting and more profitable client relationships built around the concepts of flexible maintenance and service contracts that adapt to the client’s changing business needs and growing storage capacity. Pure Storage CEO Scott Dietzen calls the strategy “an end to archaic industry practices, including out-of-control maintenance contracts and the need to forklift-upgrade equipment every three to five years.”

With the partner-led Forever Flash, end users can choose Fresh Every Upgrade benefits that allow for the resetting of maintenance agreements to year-one levels whenever they add capacity or upgrade controllers, eliminating the typical industry practice of increasing maintenance rates for aging equipment. Fresh Every Upgrade reduces per-terabyte costs of services over the life of the engagement and encourages entanglement with the service provider.

 For those customers who would rather keep CAPEX costs down, the program includes an alternate provision for automatic controller upgrades every three years, when users pre-buy maintenance in five-year blocks. The so-called Free Every Three feature keeps clients running on the latest technology with non-disruptive controller upgrades and additional expansion shelves.

“Our research consistently tells us that maintaining traditional storage infrastructure is a major pain point for IT managers, resulting in additional cost and sometimes risk for the business,” said 451 Research Vice President Simon Robinson. “Pure Storage has designed the long-term maintenance of its arrays into the product, offering a fresh — and long overdue — alternative to the traditional storage sales model.

“We believe this approach will be well-received by customers and look forward to seeing how the rest of the industry responds,” Robinson said.

For John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Solutions in Palo Alto, Forever Flash gives his storage customers control over CAPEX vs. OPEX expenses in a way that suits their businesses, which means “higher customer attach and renewal rates, thereby delivering higher profitability for partners.”

“Our sales reps can open new doors and up-level discussions around flash to C-level executives who care about operational and capital savings,” said Woodall. “Enabling customers to shift IT budgets from CAPEX to OPEX and eliminate costly forklift upgrades or maintenance renewals demonstrates long term value to customerswho appreciate the simplified ownership and upgrade model.”

The new model is the latest notable move from Pure Storage, a vendor that made industry noise last August with the announcement of $150 million in new venture capital funding, the largest single funding round in the history of enterprise storage.

The channel-focused vendor has amassed $245 million in investments, putting Pure Storage on track for an IPO and giving the vendor added ability to expand operations in Europe and Asia as well as grow its global sales, support and marketing teams, and increase R&D investments, company officials said.

The record-breaking funding round demonstrates how quickly the two-year-old Mountain View, Calif.-based Pure Storage has been able to sell the market on its all-flash enterprise storage arrays and proprietary deduplication technology, which it claims are 10x faster.

Pure Storage’s success story has been built pretty solidly on a foundation of commitment to channel sales. The company last summer augmented its fledgling channel efforts with significant changes to its partner program and the addition of a new partner advisory council.

Pure Storage is one year into its channel efforts and has already seen significant traction with partners, singing up more than 100 flash storage reseller partners worldwide and seeing 125-percent quarter-over-quarter growth in channel revenues since July 2012.

“We are exceedingly proud of P3’s traction and successes over the past year,” Pure Storage President David Hatfield said. “The response from industry leading VARs and distributor organizations has been extremely gratifying and validates that our decision to be 100 percent committed to the channel in our go-to-market strategy.”