Interview: Pure Storage looks to help companies ‘dump the complexity’

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With his insistence on all-flash everywhere, CEO Scott Dietzen is sending out a radical message to

IT decision-makers

contemplating the future of their data storage infrastructures.

Flash memory already defines the consumer technology experience. It powers the smartphones and tablets we carry everywhere we go, as well as the social networking sites that we use daily to share with family, friends and colleagues.

So why should the corporate technology experience be any different, asks

Pure Storage

CEO Scott Dietzen? After all, he argues, when compared to traditional disk-centric storage arrays, an all-flash array is ten times faster and ten times more space and power-efficient - and all this at a lower per-gigabyte price point.

Technology.Info met up with Dietzen at Oracle OpenWorld to learn more about the company he heads and the eye-opening claims it makes for its all-flash arrays.

It’s a great time to be heading up a hot new storage company, according to Dietzen, and it's not hard to see why. Pure Storage may be facing a whole army of similarly young and hot storage vendors, looking to grab the attention and budgets of corporate IT decision-makers, but the company recently got a hefty vote of confidence in its approach, in the form of $150 million in funding for global expansion from venture capitalists. Dietzen claims it’s the largest private funding round ever in the history of enterprise storage and, either way, it brings the company’s total funding to an eye-opening $245 million.

So why the excitement around Pure Storage? The company (alongside a number of rivals) advocates the use of speedy solid-state memory pretty much everywhere in the corporate data centre, as opposed to the hybrid, tiered approach that involves mixing in a bit of flash with a lot of spinning disk, endorsed by larger enterprise

storage companies

such as EMC and NetApp. As the costs of storing data on silicon continue to keep dropping, says Dietzen, Pure Storage’s all-flash vision becomes increasingly more feasible - and affordable - for mainstream businesses to pursue.

At early-adopter organisations, he adds, the shift is already underway. At

Facebook

, for example, data is stored on flash for several weeks before it’s shifted to mechanical disk, he says. And at payroll processing company Paylocity, another Pure Storage customer, storage admins have recently unplugged the last of their production disk arrays, replacing it with an all-flash array from his company.

“Mechanical disk is out of gas,” he says. “It may take some companies some time to realise that, but other companies already know it and something remarkable is going on here, with flash [becoming] the driver of a wholesale sea-change in enterprise storage.”

As for his claim that flash might actually cost companies less than spinning disk, he argues that deduplication and compression need to be taken into account when the sums are calculated, as well as the difference between

raw storage capacity

and actual addressable storage.

So this is Pure Storage’s goal: to do for silicon-based storage what EMC and NetApp did for spinning disks. Along the way, Dietzen claims, the four-year-old company has ignored a bunch of approaches from would-be acquisitors (he declines to name them) on its mission to build the storage industry’s next-generation heavy-hitter.

Pure Storage is not for sale, he insists, and in any case, the most recent round of funding values the company at an “insane premium” that would halt most prospective buyers in their tracks.

“Long-term independence is the best way to preserve our ability to create value for customers,” he says. An IPO isn’t even on the cards before 2015, because global expansion and R&D are much higher priorities at a time when the company is growing revenues at up to 300 percent year-on-year. “When you’re seeing growth like that, believe me: you’re more inclined to let your bets run.”

The company now has the funds, he says, to replicate the success it has experienced in the US elsewhere in the world, particularly Europe and Asia. “Our experience has been that our customers initially buy us for improved performance, sure, but then they repeat-buy because they’re dumping the complexity that they’ve had to tolerate for a long time in their storage environments,” he says. “That’s something that translates well internationally. We now just need to get that message out there.”

See Pure Storage discuss the

Rise of the Flash Fuelled Data Centre

at IP EXPO Europe 8th - 9th October 2014

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