Blocks and Files Storage industry lore has it that NetApp has been the only stand-alone storage company after EMC to establish its technology as a storage platform. Now Pure Storage, the energised all-flash array (AFA) startup, says it wants to be the next storage platform company.
NetApp's offering comprises a long-lived storage system with a large number of loyal customers, an eco-system of suppliers and support and training companies associated with it.
All storage startups since NetApp have either been acquired, had an IPO and languished, not had an IPO and languished, or stayed alive inside a smallish – relatively – market niche.
So, this announcement makes great marketing for Pure, but suppose it really means it? What might it have to do to succeed? Here’s the storage Vulture’s little list:
- Out-develop all other AFA companies in product hardware and software
- Add scale-out to its current scale-up arrays
- Upgrade product to using newer, small geometry flash, like 19nm, to build up its SSD capacity
- Add PCIe interface so it can participate in ServerSAN schemes
- Add file interfaces
- Add back-end nearline/bulk capacity array integration or access mechanism (on-premise and cloud)
- Explore TLC cold storage vault flash technology
- Grow and extend its software capability for better data management and better virtual server integration (VMware, Hyper-V, KVM, etc.)
- Be up with the leaders and ideally past them in product support arrangements
- Continue its extrovert marketing but include marketing against AFA competition and hybrid flash/disk arrays as well as disk-based SANs and filers
Pure’s great task, if it is to become a platform storage company, is to sell and market its product and develop its technology better than its competitors, who, in order of might, include: EMC and Solidfire; NetApp and Violin; and IBM, Cisco, Huawei, Skyera and others. Moreover, Pure needs to ensure that rival firm Kaminario doesn’t come down from the performance high ground niche into the broader enterprise market.
Can Pure do it? The biggest problems we see it having to face are the serverSAN idea, compute in the public cloud, and out-developing product versus the enormous ranks of its competition; basically every other storage hardware company. It’s a big, big ask. ®