the all-flash enterprise storage company, enables the broad deployment of flash
in the data center. |
When compared to traditional disk-centric arrays,
Pure Storage all-flash enterprise arrays are
10x more space and
power efficient at a
price point that is
less than performance disk per gigabyte stored.
The Pure Storage FlashArray is ideal for high performance workloads,
including server virtualization, desktop virtualization (VDI), database (OLTP,
real-time analytics) and
cloud computing. For
more information, visit www.purestorage.com.
Storage - mentions on StorageSearch.com,
Pure Storage's blog
the leading companies in the rackmount
SSD market (a historic perspective)
editor - StorageSearch.com
- September 2017
I've spoken to hundreds of companies in the enterprise
SSD market over a period spanning more than 20 years. As the number of
competitive vendors in that market has grown and particularly in the
storage era it has been interesting to see who is regarded by the industry
and the most interesting companies which they need to take note of. The record
of that can be seen in 10 years of the
Top SSD Companies in
which Pure Storage was ranked
#1 for the 3 consecutive quarters upto
another measure of comparison is what competitors in the rackmount flash market
think themselves when they're talking to bloggers and
founders and CEOs were telling me in conversations that they'd like to be the
next Texas Memory Systems,
or Violin or
Fusion-io - when
those companies were at the heights of market attention - that was a good way
to understand their ambitions. Today (in 2017) the enterprise market is more
- so a leader in one segment - such as HPC - might be almost unknown in another
segment like entry level flash storage.
But even competitors who think
they have better products than Pure in their own segments acknowledge that Pure
has helped the market expand beyond its technical roots and achieve mainstream
adoption with its pure play flash strategy which aimed to beat hard drive
array vendors in the bastions of general purpose storage.
prophetic article -
this way to the
petabyte SSD (March 2010) - I talked about the characteristics and
propositions of a new type of SSD system which would one day displace hard
drives in enterprise SANs - in the last bastion of hard drives - bulk storage.
Ever since launching its first SSD arrays (in August 2011) - Pure Storage has
been one of the leading companies demonstrating its focused commitment to the
ROI, value propositions and associated business marketing which lead towards
such a goal.
|Pure Storage summary
popular SSD articles
after AFAs -
the state of DWPD?
this way to the petabyte
1 big SSD
idea and some interesting companies in 2016
Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing
What were the big
SSD ideas to learn and forget in 2015?
and wherefores of enterprise SSD market consolidation
|"In the most recent
(ending January 31, 2017) we had more than one customer running large scale
simulations and analytics replace over 20 racks (think 20 refrigerators of
equipment) with a single FlashBlade (at 4U about the size of a microwave oven).|
Such dramatic consolidation depends on storage software that has been designed
for silicon rather than mechanical disk."
|Scott Dietzen, CEO -
- in his blog
the data platform for the cloud era and the secular shift to flash memory
(March 1, 2017)|
Editor's comments:- this is another
confirmation of the replacement ratio predictions in my (2013) blog -
meet Ken - and the
enterprise SSD software event horizon.
PS - Another thing which
Scott Dietzen said in his new blog was...
"This year, the 8th
since our founding and our 6th of selling, we expect to reach $1 billion in
June 23, 2015 - A significant amount of Pure Storage's marketing rhetoric is
invested in anti-EMC blogs and articles, for example these:-
And there are many more
examples of this.
Despite these examples - however - Pure Storage was
nowhere near the worst offenders I had encountered and which I had in mind
when writing my article -
those flash systems "startups" who regularly and proudly (still)
compare the superiority of their products to EMC
|Editor's earlier comments:- October 2013 - Pure Storage -
which is in the rackmount
SSD market and was ranked #6 in the
Top SSD Companies in Q3
2013 - could arguably be one of the fastest growing storage companies in
In my prophetic article -
this way to the
petabyte SSD (March
2010) - I talked about the characteristics and
propositions of a new type
of SSD system which would one day displace
hard drives in
enterprise SANs - in the
last bastion of hard drives - bulk storage applications. We haven't got there
yet. But ever since launching its first SSD arrays (in
August 2011) -
Pure Storage has been one of the leading companies demonstrating its
focused commitment to the ROI, value propositions and associated business
marketing which lead towards such a goal.
how fast can your SSD
How will hard drives
fare in an SSD world?
Ken and the enterprise SSD software event horizon
|editor's (earlier) comments:- February 2013
operates in the
storage SSD market - and has received about $100 million of investment
funding. ($245 million by September 2013).
The company markets an FC
SAN compatible SSD storage
array which superficially looks like a classic
RAID system with removable
MLC drives. However,
the company says that its architecture has been designed from the ground up -
with the aim of deliveringusable storage
capacity at price
points below that of enterprise HDD storage - while also being capable
of offering moderately high performance
The product does that by combining elements such as inline
compression - which is similar to what the market has already seen from
earlier rackmount SSD
vendors such as
and Nimbus Data Systems.
is assembled from a series of 2U storage racks and controllers which provide a
raw uncompressed MLC SSD storage density of just under 3TB per U - which is
3x lower than vanilla FC SAN MLC SSDs such as the
from Texas Memory Systems.
Pure Storage 's array delivers about 6x lower IOPS per rack unit
So you may ask - where's the market?
At 50K IOPS / u -
it's more than fast enough to outrun traditional
hard disk arrays. And
with a 10x virtual capacity reduction - Pure Storage claims its SSD
arrays will cost less than HDD arrays - offering 25TB of compressed storage per
U and at much lower power consumption too.
Pure Storage isn't the only
SSD company which claims to beat HDD arrays costs today.
newcomer Skyera -
which emerged from stealth mode in August 2012 - packs 44TB of unified
enterprise SSD storage into a single rack U - at the lowest price point in
In August 2011 -
unveiled its first SSD product (an
FC SAN compatible bulk
storage SSD) and announced it had received $30 million in series C funding
bringing its total capital funding up to $55 million.
In August 2012 -
cranked up the heat on its funding to $95 million with a new
million Series D funding round.
In May 2013 -
doubled the speed and density in its flash arrays with the launch of the
which include upto 24x 512GB
SAS SSDs inside each 2U
storage shelf. The company also announced an investment by
In-Q-Tel (IQT) - a non profit ORG that
identifies innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the US
In August 2013 -
Pure Storage -announced
that it has closed an oversubscribed $150 million Series E funding round with
which brings the company's total capital raise to $245 million.
- EMC launched a
legal suit against Pure
Storage alledging that former EMC personnel had taken with them detailed
customer related market information. Pure Storage responded that the
complaint was without merit.
- Pure Storage
a new compatibility oriented marketing program called
- whereby customers who also use Cisco and VMware in the same deployments as
their Pure storage boxes can choose to buy single call support services.
Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing|
|Although the many stories about the true nature
of the stars, moon and other heavenly bodies in the night sky were created and
developed over many thousands of years - the SSD market which has a much shorter
history (spanning about 40 years) - has nevertheless managed to accrue an
imaginative body of literature which includes truths, half truths, mysticism,
misunderstandings. myths, legends - and in some cases - downright balderdash -
when it comes to the subject of SSD costs, pricing and justifications.|
|new products from Pure
Storage, the significance of 38KB, and a door opens for future government
|Editor:- May 29, 2013 - Pure Storage
new models in it rackmount SSD family of non-disruptively upgradeable HA storage
which double the performance of the 2U controllers to 400K 8K IOPS and
provides 12TB of raw storage in 2U. In a related
the company said - the average size of I/O requests its customers see
is 38KB - which is why Pure Storage has stopped using 4KB IOPS metrics
in its sales literature.|
Editor's comments:- The rack density
of Pure Storage's new
(approx 10TB usable/ U for a 10U stack using a mix of 2U controller shelves
which manage 2U storage racks which each have upto 24x 512GB
SAS SSDs inside) is
low by comparison to industry leaders.
From a business point of view
this means their architecture may not be the first choice for customers looking
for huge installations of SSD (scaling to hundreds of
petabytes) or who
have datacenters in expensive city locations where increasing the square
footage of storage or server cabinet space is simply not an option - and for
whom higher density (SSD TB/U) outweighs any hypothetical considerations such
as lower cost per terabyte to buy.
The company says it has shipped
hundreds of units.
How you interpret that will depend on your
perspective. It's small by comparison to competitors which have been in the
market longer - but also indicates that the product works and the company is
capable of developing business in the difficult to reach smaller customers who
were orphaned by the earlier stages of enterprise SSD adoption which focused
more on SSD-CPU equivalency as the economic justification rather than simply
displacing HDD arrays. Pure Storage's business model is the harder nut to crack
- but is a bigger market opportunity - which has no clear leaders at the
In another interesting
today Pure Storage today said it is receiving an investment from
In-Q-Tel (IQT), the investment firm that
identifies innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the US
Intelligence Community. The partnership will allow Pure Storage to further
develop its FlashArray technology to meet the unique needs of IQT's government
This is just speculation on my part - but one of the big
headaches for users with sensitive info on hard drives is the cost and secure
logistics associated with
when storage drives reach end of service life.
The only trustworthy
way to deal with hard
drives is to physically shred the drives into little pieces. SSDs present
different challenges for this end of the data lifecycle - but also offer more
technical solutions - such as built-in
- but that adds to the cost of the drives. Within the context of an SSD rack -
it should be possible to integrate reliable software based data shredding -
which would save costs
for customers who factor in these considerations.
|re unified storage and
|Editor:- October 31, 2014 - Unified Storage...
What does it really
is SAN + NAS really enough to qualify a rackmount flash system as being
Unified Storage in the age of the SSD?
I don't think so.
I got an interesting
response when I discussed this with Skyera's CEO. ...read the article
$150 million for Pure Storage |
"the fastest growing storage company
|Editor:- August 29, 2013 - Pure Storage
that it has closed an oversubscribed $150 million Series E funding round with
institutional investors which brings the companys total capital raise to $245
million. The company has shipped hundreds of units of its FlashArrays
(fast-enough rackmount SSDs) to a diverse global customer base and claims
it's one of the fastest growing storage companies in the industrys history.
Editor's comments:- in 2001 I started an annual series which
listed the fastest growing
storage companies - based on revenue growth. I ended the series in 2007/8
when the credit crunch kicked in. But you can still see many of the archived
In the last year of the series there were 3 storage
companies which reported over 300% year on year revenue growth. Today Pure
Storage is hinting that its year on year revenue growth is north of 400%.
database block sizes with SSDs|
|Editor:- February 5, 2013 - I often hear from
software for SSDs who
- having researched the subject of
flash etc - have
spent too much time over-worrying about internal SSD hardware details that
they really shouldn't be worrying about. Because by the time they learn about
such things - that type of hardware anxiety is ancient history. |
I came across a recent blog by Chas. Dye at Pure Storage
DON'T Fiddle with Your Database Block Size! - which also warns about this
Chas says - "At Pure Storage, we believe that a factor
that should never influence the block size decision is your storage subsystem."
comments:- I'd certainly agree that trying to slavishly make your data
structures look like something you've read about which might be inside an
SSD controller is
probably a waste of time - because unless you know the SSD designer you don't
really know what's going on - and the abstraction you read about in some web
site is only a small part of the picture.
SSD is so sensitive to
the data you hit it with - it's not the SSD you should have bought in the
|One of the most potentially
most rewarding market challenges which SSD companies are grappling with right
now is - how to make enterprise solid state storage attractive to users who
aren't worried about their hard drive performance and don't even think they need
directions in rackmount SSDs|
|Pure Storage announces $40
|In August 2012 -
cranked up the heat on its funding to $95 million with a new
million Series D funding round.|
That's about $1 million of funding
for each system shipped since the company emerged from stealth a year ago.
competitor - based on price - is
Skyera - although
Skyera will have to prove during the next few quarters that their recently
launched technologies work in real world installations before they become a
Toughest competitors - based on impact of established
market presence and reputation - are
Texas Memory Systems,
Storage says what you can do with those HDD arrays|
|Editor:- May 16, 2012 - Pure Storage
today published a new video
on YouTube which pokes fun at the idea of hanging onto
hard drive arrays and
suggests what you can do with them. |
The 142 second video packs a lot
of humor into its tour of why their way of doing
flash is cheaper and better. And it includes
a new generation of fast-enough
(100K write IOPS)
HA/FT SSD arrays
today - with upto 100TB compressed capacity - which are clustered around
||I'm not great fan of SSD
videos - because they mostly waste time - but this one will be added to my
favorites list later
today - because it's amusing and speaks for the SSD industry. ...watch the video|
|SSD articles here on StorageSearch.com|
2.5" PCIe SSDs
- How will the new concept impact existing markets?
the Business Case for
SSD ASAPs - whether it's tiering or caching or both - these new SSD
appliances find the data hot spots and give you the advantages of SSD
acceleration as soon as possible.
enterprise SSD users want? - And what do SSD companies have to do in the
next few years?
this enterprise SSD different? - just 4 things really... (well -
care management IP (including DSP) for SSDs - what is it? and who does
fast can your SSD run backwards? - Mysterious behavior in SSDs? - 11 core
SSD asymmetries are often the root cause.
enterprise SSD market silos
- 7 SSD types will satisfy all future enterprise needs.
where are we now
with SSD software? - and how did we ever get into this mess?
SSDs - the Survive and Thrive Guide - rules to help you get through an
directions in rackmount SSDs - the new math in enterprise flash arrays
Pure Storage was the #1 company which grabbed reader attention for 3
successive quarters in 2016.
Although the memoryfication trends in
2017 inevitably dislodged Pure from that exalted position - it neverthless
remained #2 in Q4 2017,
and Q1 2018 (ahead
of hundreds of other companies in the SSD and memory systems markets).
based SSDs suffer the indeterminate delay inserted by the Flash Translation
Layer in its production of the of physical block addresses. |
one reason that All-Flash-Array architects like Pure Storage desire additional
physical control at the Flash Translation Layer. Additional storage system
functions such as deduplication, compression, error coding, power-on fill, data
recovery ops, check pointing, and scrubbing are further accelerated by this
, CEO - Web-Feet
16, 2017) in his
announcing a new annual edition of the company's SSD market reports "NVMe
now, NVDIMM coming ".|
|Nutanix says Pure's CEO
doesn't understand the disruptive magnitude of hyperconvergence |
|Editor:- December 6, 2016 - A new blog -
CEO disses Nutanix. OK, let's compare numbers - by Steve Kaplan, VP of
Client Strategy - Nutanix
starts out with the idea of comparing the revenue and customer acquisition
metrics of Nutanix to another well known company founded in the same year - Pure Storage -
whose financial reporting periods are the same. |
But the blog quickly
repositions to a market analysis of enterprise architecture generations and
segmentation preferences (both of which are often poorly understood in the
industry by senior managers in SSD companies).
Among other things
"Pure Storages CEO, Scott Dietzen isnt the only one
at the storage manufacturer who doesnt grasp the magnitude of the disruption
Nutanix has brought to the datacenter." ...read
- the SSD heresies
- "Nowhere else in computer architecture will you get so many industry
experts disagreeing on such fundamental questions."
you trust SSD market data? - "These are the 5 reasons why things go
wrong in the SSD market data collection, interpretation, modeling and analysis
Availability Thinking in Pure's Flash Arrays|
|Editor:- June 7, 2015 -
Building Fast, Highly-Available Enterprise Flash Storage from Commodity
Components (pdf) by authors at Pure Storage
describes several interesting aspects of Pure's flash arrays which internally
use consumer grade
The paper presented at
SIGMOD 2015 says among
- Purity can tolerate the loss of 2 SSDs without losing availability. Pure
encourages potential customers to pull drives and unplug controllers as part of
- Due to efficiencies
in deduplication Pure's customers on average provision approximately 12x
more virtual space than physical storage.
- Commenting on the
in capability between flash management which is possible seen from a single
drive level and a global array level the authors say - Pure's controller has a
global view of the workload and much more computational power than the SSD FTL,
allowing it to apply optimizations and make global decisions that the drives are
Pure says that "improvements" in consumer solo drive
benchmarks do not
always follow through to deliver better performance in the managed enterprise
array context. Sometimes the optimized drives perform worse in a Pure array.
- Re quality of service Pure says that to avoid application failures
during controller failure, they have to guarantee that recovery will complete
in under 30 seconds.
|what can we
learn from Pure Storage's IPO filing?|
|Editor:- August 14, 2015 - Pure Storage
needs more funds to continue its current growth strategy in the
rackmount SSD market.
The reasons become clear in the details revealed in the
S-1 which the company registered recently with the
SEC for an IPO.
is that the company's R&D and sales and marketing costs have been
disproportionately high relative to their revenue - judged by steady state
market standards. However, if you choose to assume that the company's revenue
will continue to grow rapidly - then these front end loaded losses are not
dissimilar to what we have seen in many previous enterprise SSD IPOs.
Interesting things which emerge from Pure's S1.
- Pure Storage's revenue in the year ending January 31, 2015 was just under
- Pure Storage has over 1,100 customers. And coincidentally - 1,100
employees. (Is 1 to 1 a sustainable ratio?)
Maybe because of that Pure
has a good story to tell about repeat business - although warns that this is
based on a short history of 27 months of selling systems and that things could
- silliest statement in the S-1:- "We have pioneered the all-flash array
make decisions based on all kinds of criteria and sometimes these don't make
sense to anyone else - or even to the same person when looking back later. So
I'm not going to speculate on the gambling aspects of the IPO.
- most profound statement in the S-1:- "The market for all-flash
storage products is rapidly evolving, which makes it difficult to forecast
customer adoption rates and demand for our products."
this is a useful opportunity to remind you that in the timeframe of the next 3
to 5 years there will be a great deal of market change and consolidation in the
enterprise flash array market for reasons and with possible transformation
paths which I wrote about in
So if I'm trying to figure out the strengths and
weaknesses of how a company like Pure Storage might morph and survive into that
kind of future market my guesses would hinge around these factors:-
- hardware:- companies like Pure (and most others too) will be buying all
their hardware boxes from 3rd parties in the future. Pure's hardware IP is
minimal today. But this doesn't matter so much.
Of course I'm posing these questions knowing that reliable answers
are unknowable. But despite all the uncertainty the beauty of the competitive
capitalist free market system is that useful stuff still gets done and when
companies become publicly owned the market provides real time feedback of what
- software and marketing:- these are the things which will matter.
has demonstrated that it can sell systems - although it's hardly unique in
that. And while Pure is currently a small and costly sales channel compared to
the rest of the market it competes with - some longer established competitors
are much worse.
So the question is - can its software (its real core
asset) stand up competitively compared to new upcoming generations of
industry standard enterprise flash management software which will become the
And an equally important question related to software - is what
proportion of the future flash array market will actually need to be backwards
compatible with legacy architectures?
That after all is the main point
of Pure's business model today.
So you might think about scaling
back down the IDC numbers
mentioned in the S-1 or look at the detail or - better still -
disregard them if you're looking at TAM for Pure style flash arrays.
|We've all seen them.
Powerpoints, videos and pdfs in which small rackmount SSD startups
(including Pure) proudly compare their systems with the size, price and power
consumption of some old relic from the EMC back catalog.
message is clear:- ours is better than EMC's...
|can you take
these AFA startups seriously?
| Pure Storage's funding
coffers fattened up to nearly $0.5 billion|
|Editor:- April 23, 2014 - Pure Storage
it had raised another $225 million in funding - bringing the total in all
rounds to $470 million.|
Editor's comments:- One of Pure
Storage's many competitors - Nimbus
- whose CEO has taken a different approach to funding (so far) - this week
published an unflattering
side by side features comparison between the 2 company's flagship rackmount
|Pure Storage's rackmount
SSD shipment mille-stone|
|Editor:- March 11, 2014 - Pure Storage
it has shipped over 1,000 of its Pure FlashArrays (fast enough rackmount
Editor's comments:- in case you didn't get that "mille-stone"
thing. "Mille" is an olde English prefix (from latin) meaning "thousand".
array history context:- Pure Storage's shipments milestone is less
signficant than IBM's 1,500
FlashSystem 840s (fast
rackmount SSDs), but more significant than
Tegile's 1,000 Zebi
storage arrays (hybrids)
- which we have also heard about in this quarter.
|Pure Storage launches
maintenance program to allay user fears about flash array upgrade costs and
|Editor:- February 6, 2014 - Pure Storage
a new business model for supporting its rackmount SSDs - the
Forever Flash program - which
the company says will provide users who have maintenance contracts better
forward visibility of costs and upgrades.|
One of the clever subliminal marketing messages here - when you get into the
details - is the assumption that Pure Storage will still be in business in
future years and still offering competitive SSD systems which you'd want to
But at the same time - Pure Storage - does also tackle
head-on a key user fear which delays sales in this statement - "Flash
storage changes completely every 6-9 months, so we built the
FlashArray to allow for
incremental expansion to take advantage of fast flash density and cost
enterprise SSD box riddle game,
survivor's guide to enterprise SSDs
|"Even if you had all
your perfectly baked enterprise SSD cake - with all the software trimmings which
are still a year or so in the future - available right now in your restaurant
and offered it to these people at that futuristically low price today - they
wouldn't want to taste it" I said to Skyera's CEO
"They prefer other people to experiment with the new enterprise SSD chef in
town. You just have to live with that.
"In another few years these same cautious types may be saying to
everyone they know - don't you just love dining at Skyera?"
|scary Skyera |
doesn't like Pure Storage|
|Editor:- November 6, 2013 - EMC is suing Pure Storage.|
a good report on this in AllThingsD.com.
EMC's premise is that it can't understand how Pure could have been so
successful in picking up EMC customers in any other way than by leveraging the
detailed knowledge which former EMCers brought to Pure when they were recruited.
CEO - Scott Dietzen
- tells the world what he thinks about EMC's move
a blog in which he says - "While I have no insight that would allow
me to comment on EMC's motivation, I would say in general more mature companies
risk forgetting the golden rule - they are happy to recruit great people to join
their companies from competitors (indeed they aggressively solicit such hires),
but then resort to onerous non-compete agreements and lawsuits to deter the same
employees from exercising their freedom to seek employment elsewhere..."
comments:- I was talking to the founder of another enterprise SSD company
earlier this year about something different - but as a part of that conversation
he told me about how upset companies like EMC, HP etc really are about what
they regard as SSD upstarts causing them huge business pain.
remember the exact ratio he used - but the gist was that from the big
incumbants' point of view - whenever they see an upstart SSD company get one
million dollars of business say - that effectively loses the big company maybe
five to ten million dollars of business which they believe they would have got
if these SSD companies didn't exist.
For most of us - that big
company viewpoint is ridiculous.
Because in the same way that any
rational customer in the late 1980s was going to buy a PC instead of a
minicomputer to do their wordprocessing, or in the early 1990s - a Unix based
Sun etc to do
their departmental database and email instead of a mainframe from DEC or
IBM.... customers today know they can save tons of money and do more stuff by
switching to new SSD companies for their server and storage needs.
main thing slowing them down switching over to the SSD highway is the
bewildering array of SSD
route maps on offer. (Not all of which have pavement and gas stops.)
these self evident truths about technology transitions doesn't stop the pain for
the big companies like EMC who feel like they have been
into playing a game - which they don't like or
legal move by EMC reminds me of another pivotal moment in SSD history - in
April 2008 -
Seagate fights SSD Market Challenge - with lawyers - instead of engineers
- when Seagate
hoped to crush STEC
using the same tactics which had worked before with several inconvenient
hard drive startups.
That didn't work for Seagate in
couldn't wish the SATA SSDs away.
In 2014 - the
and PCIe SSDs aren't
going to disappear either.
You could argue that if EMC's proprietary
enterprise SSD users want? was such a valuable business asset - how is it
that EMC itself didn't do a better job in the SSD market while the talent was
still on the payroll?
going to be the next target for the SSD lawyers? - After all - that's where you
can advertise what you know.
Or how about the storage conferences and
trade shows? Are the stars from EMC going to be forced to present their papers
anonymously - so they can't be grabbed by competitors?
One the other
hand - if it wasn't for the lawyers - we wouldn't have all those great books to
read by John Grisham. I'm currently
rereading - A Time to Kill.