Pure Storage steps up Kubernetes data services capabilities with Portworx acquisition

Pure will use Portworx’s cloud native capabilities as a layer on top of their own solutions, as many joint customers have been using them, but is also using Portworx and its executive team as the foundation of a new Cloud Native Business Unit.

Today, Pure Storage is announcing that they have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Kubernetes data services platform provider Portworx, for approximately $370 million in cash. The deal greatly strengthens Pure’s capabilities in the fast-growing market for multi-cloud data services to support Kubernetes and containers.

Portworx was founded in 2014, by the same team that started dedupe vendor Ocarina, which they sold to Dell in 2010.

“Our vision with Portworx was that storage infrastructure would have to change to keep up with microservices,” said Michael Ferranti, VP of Product and Corporate Marketing at Portworx. “We went GA in 2017, and are now the market leader in Kubernetes Data Services. We do have a channel business, but will expand that by becoming part of Pure Storage.”

That channel business in North America has been comparatively small, but that will change under Pure.

“They are at the point where they had a key set of marquee customers, and it was time to hit the gas on the Go-to-Market effort,” said Matt Kixmoeller, VP of Strategy at Pure. “This was a way for them to accelerate that.”

Ferranti laid out Portworx’s strategic position relative to the market.

Michael Ferranti, VP of Product and Corporate Marketing, Portworx

“We are highly differentiated in a market where we have two alternatives, broadly speaking,” he said. “One is existing storage providers who do it themselves. The problem there is that container dynamics are much more dense and dynamic, and what works in a small TestDev environment has challenges in production. We are built from the ground up exclusive for containerized networks, as the software-defined layer to run on top.”

The other competitors are startups like themselves.

“There, our differentiation is the strength of our engineering team, and our enterprise customer base,” Ferranti said. “We have some very large-scale deployments, and we learn a lot from them around edge case deployments. This has helped us harden our stack compared to our competitors, and so we have a significant IP differentiation.”

Kixmoeller said that cloud native stack solutions like Portworx have become critical to the future of the industry.

“Customers are looking to the cloud native stack to process things, and Kubernetes and containers is how cloud native happens,” he said. “It has become mainstream over the last couple of years. Most old apps still run legacy, like on VMs, but the new ones are in containers. Portworx was formed to take the most mission critical apps, and bring them safely to the new Kubernetes platform.”

The hardware agnostic nature of the solution should appeal to partners, Kixmoeller said.

“Partners are always in a difficult position when going into a new Kubernetes environment, if the customer has many storage types,” he noted. “With this, it doesn’t matter. It goes up the stack and adds value across hybrid stacks. This is a key tool for partners to stay relevant.”

Many of Portworx’s customers are large enterprises. They include TMobile, grocery chain Kroger, and Canada’s RBC.

Kixmoeller noted that some of the two companies’ joint customers ultimately led to the deal taking place.

“Our joint customers, who were running Portworx software on top of Pure, got us working together,” he said. “We both invested heavily in containers, but from different starting points. “They were a pure software approach.”

Pure will integrate the Portworx technology in multiple ways.

Matt Kixmoeller, VP of Strategy, Pure Storage

“We will use Portworx as a software layer on top of our products,” Kixmoeller said. “This solves the final issue of making storage portable and multi cloud, by providing a software layer for storage that makes heterogenous storage across clouds all look the same.”

Pure is also using Portworx as the foundation of a new Cloud Native Business Unit.

“Murli Thirumale, Portworx’s CEO, is joining Pure to lead that business unit and all the Portworx founders are joining as well,” Kixmoeller said. “It’s about accelerating growth. Portworx is very much an open ecosystem, and we are  committed to maintaining that openness, so our main deployments will be on heterogeneous hardware.”

Kixmoeller stressed that this new business unit has lofty goals

“Our goal with the new Cloud Native Business Unit is to make sure we serve the need of cloud native apps,” he said. “The Portworx team is ambitious and we have ideas how to grow the area of this platform. Step one though is to get Portworx immersed in Pure and get it introduced to our channel and our customers.”