Pure CEO Giancarlo lays out vision to leave disk in the dust

Giancarlo emphasized that the long-awaited time has finally arrived when flash is now price-competitive with HDDs in the lower reaches of the data centre, and that Pure in particular enjoys competitive advantages in the market that will let them take advantage of this opportunity to the fullest.

Pure Storage CEO Charlie Giancarlo

LAS VEGAS – At Pure Storage’s Accelerate event here, Pure CEO Charlie Giancarlo outlined Pure’s vision and strategy in the first keynote, where he emphasized a theme that the company has been pounding relentlessly during this event. While Pure was originally founded with the long-term goal of displacing all spinning disks in the data centre with flash, differences in price points between flash and HDDs made this unfeasible for years outside of mission critical applications. Pure is now emphasizing those days are done, and that all-flash is not only the future, but with the extension of the portfolio to more lower cost applications, it is the present as well.

Giancarlo pointed out that past technology changes have been far more rapid than people believed possible at the time. He referred to the pace at which CDs replaced LPs, and that VHS was displaced by DVD within 5-6 years in the 1990s.

He then drew a parallel between these transformations and what Pure sees as an analogous situation with HDD and flash.

“Media replacing old technology happens faster than people believe,” Giancarlo stated. “HDD used to be in phones and PCs, but they aren’t in them any more.” “The only places HDDs remain is in enterprise storage and hyperscalers. This is why we are so confident that by 2028 there will be no HDD sold.”

Giancarlo made reference to a data point Pure executives have repeatedly stressed at the event, that of all the big storage OEMs they are the only ones who have seen in increase in market share since 2014, while all the others have declined, with HPE posting a fairly marginal 1.9% decline while Dell Technologies saw the most significant drop, at 8.0%.

“Why were we able to gain market share,” he asked rhetorically. “Compared to our all-flash competitors, we are 2-5 times better for power and space efficiency, and 10x better compared to their hard disk systems. We are more reliable, with fewer service visits, and with no ‘scheduled downtime’ like our competitors require, it means that 5-10% less labour is needed.”

Giancarlo also stressed that Pure has the world’s most consistent storage product line.

“Our competitors’ products often come from acquisitions, so they have a different OS and management systems,” he said. “We scale up and down – all managed by our Purity software and Pure1 OS. We also have a unique advantage in our Direct to Flash Management. Only Pure has software that manages flash directly. We don’t use SSDs that mimic flash, which is highly inefficient.”

Giancarlo also highlighted the impact of Pure’s Evergreen subscription portfolio.

“Alone in the systems business, we are the only one where products never go obsolete,” he said.

Giancarlo reworked these points into what he termed four unique features,  which give Pure an advantage over their competitors.

“The Direct to Flash management capability in our software is something that took us ten years to develop,” he said. “It’s not something that can be quickly reproduced by another vendor.”

Second was what Giancarlo termed the most consistent portfolio, with the Purity OS, Purity1 software, and Pure’s DFMs [Direct Flash Modules] all being consistent throughout the breadth of the portfolio, from the highest end in the mission critical space, to backup at the low end.

Third is the nature of the cloud operating model, which Giancarlo said is different from other vendors.

“In our cloud operating model, we have pools of storage managed by a fleet,” he stated.

Fourth is the Evergreen lifecycle.

“That lifecycle is something that is engineered into the core of our Purity system,” Giancarlo stated. “Because of that, I doubt that a competitor will be able to mimic this.”

Giancarlo summed up Pure’s overall valuation proposition at the end of his address.

“Today, there is no reason to not use flash, or Pure,” he stressed. “It is greener, using 1/10th to 1/5th the power, and the amount of waste is far less. Data centres take up 1-2% of global energy consumption. Our flash can save 20% of all data power consumed. Disk is at the end of its days.”