Pure Storage makes headway with innovative programmes
Six years ago when Pure Storage was launched, its go to market approach driven by its founders, was two-fold. The first was that flash storage was here to stay in the datacentre. The second was that storage in the enterprise had become too complex and too expensive and was a significant pain point for end customers. Mainstream storage vendors were bringing out new products and were using that as a reason for end customers to migrate from one platform to another.
Pure Storage approached the market and turned the prevailing business model on its head. In 2014, it broke ranks by locking the metric cost of maintenance and services contract for end customers to day-one of the start of the contract. No incremental and hidden costs as the years roll on for Pure Storage end customers. At the end of the third year and increments of three years thereof, it offered free upgrade of the controllers, thus enabling its end customers to switch over into latest technology platforms. All for free, no hidden unpredictability’s, no incremental add-on costs, no forklift removals of hardware and no forklift upgrades.
The first programme where the maintenance and services metric costs are locked into the day-one base line, Pure Storage calls its Evergreen Storage programme. The second programme where end customers get controller upgrades at the end of three year life cycle milestones, Pure Storage calls it Forever Flash programme. These two programmes give Pure Storage end customers a predictable total cost of ownership across the life cycle of their storage technology investment.
Ben Savage, EMEA Head of Channels and Alliances, Pure Storage, explains the benefits that end customers get from Pure Storage versus from mainstream vendors. “When they move to flash with Pure Storage, then the benefits to customers is cost predictability. Historically from our competitors they have had very much what we would describe as a forklift upgrade every three to four years. They have their storage infrastructure set in place and when they look to renew their maintenance or move to a new platform, they see a significant hike in their storage costs. That unpredictability has caught a lot of customers out in terms of budgeting and financing.”
The longer term predictability of total cost of ownership around flash storage solutions from Pure Storage is working well with managed service providers offering cloud solutions. Both the Evergreen Storage offerings around lock-in of maintenance costs and free upgrades under Forever Flash ring well with the business model of managed service providers. Managed service providers offer compelling service level agreements based on specific cloud solutions demanded by their end customers. A forward looking predictable storage cost base around Pure Storage products allows managed service providers to offer more assured and competitive contracts for their key end customers. That is disrupting some of the support contracts that managed service providers have with mainstream storage vendors.
Savage points out that when an end user considers migrating from a dedicated IT infrastructure to a hybrid cloud infrastructure they are looking at two key benefits. This includes cost savings and flexibility. With Evergreen Storage and Forever Flash offerings available for managed service providers, this creates a definite appeal for them to build on and forward offer to their end customers. “You can imagine, those two elements built into a cloud model. It is extremely compelling not only for the service provider but also for the customer in terms of ongoing predictability of cost and value. And we are disrupting it from a cost value perspective. In that situation, Pure Storage as an all flash provider would sit within the cloud service provider.”
The managed service providers where solutions from Pure Storage tend to fit in well, are those that follow a multi-storage-vendor, best of breed approach. “You tend to find that most significant managed service providers, have got best of breed technology across their service catalog.”
Another key opportunity for Pure Storage is the datacentre. The vendor remains committed that long term datacentres will go all flash. While converged infrastructures have also exhibited rapid growth in the datacentre, the best fit of converged infrastructures and suitable applications depends on the size of the end user organisation. For flash solutions from Pure Storage, the demand is being driven by database applications. Other application workloads like virtualisation around server infrastructure, and virtual desktop infrastructure applications can fit into converged and flash storage solutions based on the scale out of the application. “We are not saying all flash is correct for all storage infrastructures. But we do believe that all flash will be able to cover majority of the datacentre requirements today and certainly for high performance applications.”
Globally, in terms of market segments, financial services, healthcare and public sector are the primary demand segments for all flash solutions. Inside financial services large database applications, and inside public sector virtual desktop infrastructure applications are important workload areas for all flash solutions.
Pure Storage follows a 100% channel partner led sales approach in its go to market. Since the key benefits for its end customers accrue over the three year milestone cycle of cost-free upgrades and from its lock-in on day-one of maintenance and service contract metric costs, Pure Storage expects its channel partners to have end customer relationships of similar longevity. By going to market with its Evergreen and Forever Flash storage programmes, the vendor has also established a significant level of transparency in its cost of goods and services for channel partners to build upon. “Pure Storage does not have a services organisation and unlike many of our competitors we do not deliver services ourselves,” explains Savage, about the possible opportunity that channel partners can exploit in the market place.
Since system integrator and storage channel partners are usually multi-vendor, to become part of the Pure Storage partner programme they need to be ready to disrupt mainstream vendor presence. Next they need to understand the cost base approach followed by Pure Storage across its programmes and be ready to work with end customers over the longer term.
Across the Africa region, Pure Storage is presently only operating in South Africa and one of its leading channel partners is system integrator Data Sciences Corporation. The key market segments for Pure Storage in South Africa are financial services, healthcare and cloud service providers. Compared to the Middle East region, the South African region provides less vendor competition in the flash storage solution space, but more competition with mainstream storage vendors. Another difference is channel partners here have extended relationships with end customers often even managing their IT infrastructure. Savage expects such channel partner to continue to lead the go to market both inside South Africa and into rest of Africa.
Across the Middle East region, Pure Storage works with distributor Global Distribution for datacentre focused channel partners. Pure Storage works with distributor Spectrami for datacentre and cloud security focused channel partners. The third area where Pure Storage is looking at expanding its engagement with channel partners is in the analytics application ecosystem. About the penetration of flash based storage solutions, Savage remarks, “I think in terms of the adoption in the region, it is clearly not as widely adopted as it is in the other regions.” Inside the Middle East region, education and insurance are important market segments.
With the arrival of flash storage, mainstream storage vendors have been on a path to redefine their storage strategies. Hybrid storage product offerings are helping their customer base to move towards flash storage and is less risky both for end users and channel partners. “The growth for all vendors is in flash and for our competition their strategy is hybrid,” summarises Savage.
Engaging with Data Sciences in South Africa
Data Sciences Corporation aims to provide next generation solutions along with supporting customer service. Rui de Oliveira, Sales Director at Data Sciences, considers Pure Storage to be the catalyst of mainstream adoption of all-flash arrays. According to him, Pure Storage has revolutionised the way in which organisations purchase, manage and dispose of storage investments and is considered to be the thought-leader in this market. Pure Storage has its strengths in providing solutions for structured and unstructured data storage; its channel model which is built on long term, value partnership; and its customer first approach.
“Within Data Sciences rich history in the enterprise storage market, Data Sciences has not seen a technology change in the datacentre so radically within such a short period of time,” stresses de Oliveira.
Pure Storage’s Evergreen and Forever Flash programmes are a significant shift in the acquisition, maintenance and total cost of ownership of storage in the industry. In order to build an understanding of these programmes, Data Sciences provides a consultative engagement including assessing challenges, requirements and future objectives of its customers.
To compete with converged infrastructure solutions making inroads as enabling platforms for digital transformation, Pure Storage has recently launched Flash Blade. This is an SSD based, scale-out, file and object storage with de-duplication and compression scaling to PetaBytes of capacity. Financial institutions, manufacturing, telecom, ISPs, mining sectors, are potential target segments that can benefit as they scale in terms of demand for converged data storage.
“Due to the simplicity of how Pure Storage integrates with hypervisors such as Openstack, Hyper-V, VMWare, customers can enjoy the same levels of simplicity, but avoid being locked into a single platform vendor and hypervisor, while having the ability to leverage existing server investments,” explains de Oliveira.
Synergies between Pure Storage and Data Sciences have helped to create their partnership. These include similar business philosophy and readiness to bring in market disruption. As a vendor, Pure Storage promotes Data Sciences as an extension of its business, culture and customer centric engagement model across South Africa.