Going to vendor presentations is always interesting on three fronts:
- What new technology is hitting the market? The IT industry is constantly changing, which means to survive you need to be constantly learning.
- How are other vendors presenting their message? Can I pick up any good ideas?
- How will their new innovations affect the market? Are we all about to be unemployed?
What led me to this musing is a presentation I attended today by Pure Storage. It was a breakfast presentation, but they made it run fast, with a nominal start time of 7:30; talking starting at 7:45 and done by 9am! Frankly this shows a lot of respect for the audience. People simply don’t have the time for a half day seminar let alone a whole day.
The location (the Sofitel) was top dollar so their marketing budget clearly showed, as did their hiring budget. They had A-Team Executives there including President David Hatfield, their CMO, the amazing Vaughn Stewart and Michael Cornwell their VP for APAC. These guys have clearly assembled a killer leadership team and are hiring big (so big that EMC are suing people – check that story out here).
The bulk of the presentation was by David Hatfield who spoke really well and presented a great slide deck (top marks for presentation).
New entrants always struggle to get past the ‘your new, why should I trust you’ problem, so they immediately countered by telling us that they are on their third generation box – having started in analytics. They then talked up their huge well placed and independent funding. Its clear these guys are funded to go big (and are spending big right now to get there).
The opened the presentation with images of iPhones and of Google racks. While these were aimed (I think) to show the pervasiveness of flash, they also served to associate Pure Storage with ease of use which was one of their major messages.
But their main message was clear: The disk is the bottleneck. That hybrid (cache/flash/disk) technology still allows for cache misses and still require too much setup and consulting and that all-flash devices using Consumer Grade MLC is the way to go. They manage cost by 6:1 dedup inline ingest (depending on data type). This means you can store 6 GB of client data in 1 GB of flash.
They said their array would last 7-10 years as every component could be upgraded on the fly with no impact which is an impressive engineering goal.
They showed a case study of Paylocity, a Payroll Company who got 800% better SQL response ones, dropped backup times from 1.5 hours to 10 minutes, went from 8x 30 amp to 2 x 15 amp, reduced rack space from 58U to 10U, took 150TB of 3PAR and HDS down to 35TB of Pure Storage Flash and achieved 4:1 dedup.
The CEO of their local reference (Charles Tym from Harbour IT), was part of a panel they then ran. Charles spoke about how they bought UCS and Nexus but they could not get more than 10% out of their network because of disk latency. They increased their disk footprint but this didn’t help (he didn’t say which vendor/brand). They tried Pure Storage and got 10:1 dedup and amazing performance and are now retiring their disk based storage to be used as backup and DR disk.
So what did I think?
- They gave a great pitch but need to keep the focus on how they solve business problems (not just reduce cost). There are too many flash entrants to just focus on speeds/feeds and on heat, space, noise and cost reduction.
- Their simplicity message is key…. it’s what the market wants.
- They need to sell big… it seems to me that with the big investment in manpower they are making right now they will need to start showing results very quickly, regardless of how well they are funded.
The flash vendor wars are now in full swing. Pure Storage are showing all the signs of being a big winner. I wish them luck.