Why does Pure Storage continue to survive and thrive in competition?

Disclaimer– I am a Pure Storage employee and this is my independent analysis using publicly available information and the business frameworks that I have written in my personal website https://sandeepsastry.com/

Global Crises often pave the way for disruptive innovation giving rise to renown companies. General Motors was founded during the 1907-1910 economic recession and Hewlett Packard was founded in 1939 in the World War II era.

Microsoft was formed during the 1975 during the oil embargo and most recently Uber and AirBnB were started during the 2008 Global financial crisis. The current pandemic will also give rise to new renown companies. (Source- Business Insider)

In 2009, the Enterprise Data Storage industry also witnessed disruption giving birth to slew of startups with the advent of Solid State All Flash Arrays. Companies such as Xtremio, Solidfire, Nimble, Tegile, Tintri and Pure Storage were born. 

Today in 2021, Pure Storage is the only company that has been able to survive and thrive as an independent company whereas the rest of the companies were acquired by the Goliaths- Dell EMC, Netapp and HP. 

Pure Storage was the first storage company to hit a $1Billion dollars in a record five years since the product was general availability. Not many tech companies can boast of such an accolade. 

Why does Pure Storage continue to survive and thrive in competition?

Pure Storage is successful because of the following differentiations and I expand on each of them.

  1. Customer Experience is Pivotal to Pure’s Success
  2. Pure cares about End Customers’ Business Outcomes
  3. Pure innovates organically unlike its competitors that do disparate product workload acquisitions. 
  4. Pure foresees market transitions and offers flexible consumption models
  5. Pure is viewed as a Leader by Industry Analysts and Customer Peer Review Companies

Customer Experience is Pivotal to Pure’s Success

The Pure founders had the vision to build software centric products that would scale and revolutionize the Storage industry- based on the foundation of simplicity and with no compromise on performance, functionality, availability and resiliency.

Pure has the best industry class customer satisfaction Net Promoter Scores (NPS) in 80s mainly due to ease of doing business. The Support NPS is higher in the 90s.

Pure understood the customer pain points of doing forklift & disruptive upgrades, spending countless hours on performance tuning and fixing various bug issues without being guaranteed six 9s availability. 

Pure solves all these issues and pays close attention to the Customer Experience of its prospects/ customers right from the time you make an enquiry, decide to buy and finally renew.

You can test drive our products digitally or do a remote POC. Once you decide to buy, you can do remote zero touch installation and we provide non disruptive migrations and can do non-disruptive upgrades with planned and unplanned downtime.

Pure products are easy to set up, tune and maintain, reducing potential for configuration errors that cause downtime or lower performance. 

The Pure1 platform enables cloud-based, fleet management, advanced capacity planning and workload simulation to deliver resources faster, control costs and forecast IT needs. 

Pure cares about End Customers’ Business Outcomes

Almost all of Pure’s customers are undergoing Digital transformation and their top of mind issues are about Speed, Scale and Sustainability. They want their end customers to have a seamless Digital Experience when they interact with them.

Pure offers a wide storage portfolio of products based on the performance and scale requirements.

With every new product generation, Pure makes significant strides in terms of Sustainability- reducing the Array Rack space footprint – increasing the density & TB and also improving the power consumption efficiency.

Domino’s has been one of the most successful companies becoming the #1 Pizza company in the world outperforming its industry peers in the past decade. (Source- Harvard Business School)

Domino’s sells more than 3 million pizzas every day from over 17,100 stores worldwide, generating a lot of customer data in the process. That data is essential to understanding customer preferences and delivering experiences that make people happy. 

The company uses Pure Storage to capture and analyze the data rapidly—and scale to support growth. Many of their mission critical use cases such as supply chain and eCommerce run on Pure Storage infrastructure. 

They like the Pure Array IOPS performance and the Data reduction rates as it helps speed up the transaction whereby improving customer experience enabling faster ordering and delivering.

Source- Video- https://www.purestorage.com/customers/dominos.html

ServiceNow uses Pure Storage to deliver a superior experience to a customer base that is driven to innovate on the ServiceNow platform. With an all-flash data center, the company can make sure its enterprise cloud infrastructure works flawlessly for more than 6,200 separate customer instances.

ServiceNow is decreasing their restore times significantly and FlashBlade is helping them meet their end customer Service Level Agreements (SLAs) resulting in improved customer satisfaction and experience. It is also lowering the footprint and reducing power consumption in data centers.

Source- Case Study https://www.purestorage.com/customers/servicenow.html

Pure innovates organically unlike its competitors that do disparate product workload acquisitions. 

Customers want to have mission critical applications hosted in on-premise and also want to leverage the economics of public cloud hyperscalers for other non critical applications. They want to seamlessly move data between on premises and the cloud.

Unlike our competitors who have grown inorganically making acquisitions of products that are different proprietary workload platforms and do not easily move data between one another, Pure has primarily built on software defined FlashArray Purity Platforms and FlashBlade Purity Platform that can move data between one another.

Dell has recently launched Power Store and Power Scale to compete with FlashArray and FlashBlade. It is yet to prove its mettle as it is also cannibalizing their other product lines.

Pure is focused on taking our software defined enterprise data features and porting them into native cloud capabilities. They allow customers to leverage the same enterprise data features that are available on prem in FlashArray to also be available in the Public Cloud. This allows us to make the efficiency and resiliency of the Public Cloud better.

For example, with Cloud Block Store customers can leverage features like ActiveCluster, Deduplication, Compression, Thin provisioning, and Space efficient snaps in AWS. CloudSnap allows for native integration with Azure.

Pure’s Portworx acquisition provides Kubernetes data services that run on any cloud, any storage, and any infrastructure. Portworx supplies container storage software, which includes backup and restore features. 

With Portworx container data services and PSO software, Pure provides a comprehensive suite of data services that can be deployed in-cloud, on bare metal, or on enterprise arrays, all natively orchestrated in Kubernetes.

Pure foresees market transitions and offers flexible consumption models

Storage Industry Goliaths such as Dell, Netapp and HP made their customers rebuy their storage every three years.

In 2015, Pure was the first in the industry to come up with the Evergreen program where you can replace the FlashArray controllers every three years. You eliminate the risk of buying an array that is immediately out of date. You don’t have to rebuy any of your storage enabling cost predictability and investment protection. 

Our competitors Dell, Netapp and HP have attempted to replicate our Evergreen program and have not been successful.

With the pandemic in 2020,customers want to have flexibility to consume storage in CAPEX and OPEX based models.

Just as Pure created the CAPEX based Evergreen program so that customers do not have to re-buy their storage every three years, they realized that the customers wanted a flexible on-demand subscription OPEX based model and ability to move applications and workloads between on-prem and cloud. 

Pure was able to foresee and create Public Cloud type offering much earlier than our competitors and launched Pure as-a-Service in 2018 to provide on-premises and cloud storage services that deliver important benefits.

Pure as-a-Service blends file, block, and object storage across to support all the use cases enterprises need right now. Most vendors are not true storage as a service (STaaS), and rely on leases to deliver limited OPEX payment terms. 

They are ahead than any other competitor offering and is the closest to what people come to expect from a Public cloud type of offering.

Pure is viewed as a Leader by Industry Analysts and Customer Peer Review Companies

Pure has been in Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader Quadrant for the last seven years (2 years in Primary Storage and 5 years in All Flash Arrays). This is for the FlashArray product. You can download a free report without registration.

Pure has been in the Visionaries Quadrant in Distributed File Systems and Object Storage in the last 3 years for FlashBlade.

Gartner Peer Insights recognized Pure Storage® FlashArray as a Customers’ Choice in the 2020 Gartner Peer Insights ‘Voice of the Customer”: Primary Storage.

TrustRadius recognized FlashArray Top Rated 2020 Award in Enterprise FlashArray Storage Category and FlashBlade Top Rate 2020 Award in the Object Storage Category

Pure Storage FlashArray earned the #1 spot out of more than 25 all-flash storage array solutions by IT Central Station.

CONCLUSION

To sum up, Pure has grown successfully from a startup in 2009 to become a formidable competitor in the data storage industry. It has grown the Company Life Cycle Model stages of Startup, Growth and Maturity that I write about in my post How does David take on and become Goliath? Startups disrupting industry leaders.

The coming decade will be interesting with the changing competitive landscape.

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