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Record Breaking Growth in 2013 and How the CEO Lost His Hair

PureBald

Pure Storage had a phenomenal 2013. Of course, success starts with our customers. In 2013:

  • We eliminated on average more than one million hours of latency between each of our customers’ business applications and the disk-centric storage we superseded (Pure Storage is ~10X faster than disk, yet costs less);
  • We saved our typical customer tens of thousands of dollars in power and cooling costs versus the legacy alternatives. (Interesting aside: For one larger customer, the power savings were estimated to be $400K over three years, and a competitor apparently offered to make the end user whole for the increased OpEx. Happily the customer still went with Pure, but lesson learned—if you’re going to keep on buying disk arrays, make sure you negotiate in a power rebate);
  • We achieved >99.999% uptime as measured across our entire customer base over the past six months, and did so without requiring any downtime/maintenance windows (since Pure provides non-disruptive everything);
  • We maintained best-in-class customer satisfaction scores above 95%;
  • We upheld a NetPromoter rating of 66—2 to 3X better than that of the leading traditional storage vendors and among the best results ever achieved in tech; and
  • Several of our largest customers have deployed >10 FlashArrays and now manage >1 PB of data on Pure Storage

We could not have impacted so many customers without the commitment of Pure’s channel partners. So just as importantly, in 2013:

  • We grew our multi-tiered partner network to over 200 organizations worldwide;
  • 40% of Pure’s new business was sourced by partners;
  • To better support these partners, we expanded our global field organization with offices in most major cities in North America, as well as in Germany, Netherlands, UK, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand; and
  • In recognition of our success with partners, we were recognized with a Channel Chief award from Channel Reseller News (CRN).

Customer first and partner second is Pure’s recipe for growth, and grow we did. As a private company, we’re keeping our revenues closely held, but we’re happy to share a few of the other milestones we achieved last year:

  • We shipped our 1,000th Pure Storage FlashArray;
  • We delivered 700% YoY revenue growth;
  • We more than tripled our business since last summer, when it was valued at over $1B by public market investors T. Rowe Price, Fidelity and Tiger Global;
  • We maintained the highest growth rate in storage history, ahead of NetApp, Data Domain and Nimble, and faster than growth bellwethers Cisco and Riverbed in their heydays; and
  • We grew the business >100% sequential quarterly from Q3 to Q4!

Bald Dietz

It’s that final item that has proved challenging to my follicles. Pure’s President, Dave Hatfield, and I made a bet against the rest of the team that we could not double the business from Q3 to Q4—as an organization grows, sequential doubling gets harder and harder. At the time, it sure seemed like a safe, fun way to challenge the team to overachieve. Now we’ve unfortunately found out what my head is shaped like under my fading fur. But it was great fun, and in the process we were glad to help raise over $35K for a worthy local charity in Project Night Night.

Pure and our partners are racking up these successes because we got the technology disruption right, with a business model and a partner program that is suited to the goal.

  • Pure’s all-flash array actually costs less per GB than the legacy mechanical storage it supersedes (CapEx only, no TCO arguments necessary); and
  • Our product is 100% compatible with business’ existing data center applications and infrastructure.

Technology innovation is essential, but we at Pure are also striving to accelerate the transition from disk to flash by disrupting the incumbent storage vendors’ business models. To date, Pure has launched the following programs:

  1. Our Love Your Storage money back guarantee (Too good to be true? If we don’t exceed your expectations in every dimension, just ask for a refund);
  2. All-in pricing (Why should your storage vendor nickel and dime you for replication or analyzing historical performance data?);
  3. Zero professional services or training (Why can’t storage be simple?);
  4. Proactive support (Wouldn’t it be great if your storage vendor could predict and respond to issues in advance of your having to troubleshoot them yourself?); and, now our latest and biggest yet disrupter,
  5. Forever Flash!

The Forever Flash concept requires some set up. When you buy a disk array today, you typically expect it will sit on your data center floor for 4 to 5 years, as by then the mechanical drive failure rates climb to where the maintenance becomes untenable. Your storage vendor generally attempts to accelerate that write down to sell you a new array. It is not atypical for the year 4-6 maintenance fees to be so high that you’re better off buying an entirely new array and scrapping the old one to reset your maintenance cycle.

While this is good for the storage vendor, it’s lousy for you. The migration from old to new array is painful. The problem isn’t just the forklift upgrade to swap the hardware, but rather the multiple days of service disruption during the data migration, and the months of planning/logistics required to limit that disruption. To add insult to injury, you also have to write off and rebuy the same array software in order to swap out the underlying commodity hardware!

ForeverFlash

At Pure we were convinced there is a better way. When you buy a Pure Storage FlashArray, our expectation is that you will be able to extend the typical 3-year array lifecycle easily to 5, 7, or even 10+ years.  With our standard maintenance fees (generally less than those for a disk array, especially in the out years), we bundle hardware refreshes that ensure you can run the latest and greatest software. The end result is an evergreen storage array with predictable to decreasing maintenance costs that affords non-disruptive expansion as your capacity or performance needs grow.

Now let me close our 2013 recap and look forward with a deep and sincere thanks to our customers and partners. We built Pure to better serve your needs, and you made each of our successes last year possible. Rest assured that we at Pure are going to deliver another record-setting year of growth in 2014 (although I’m trying to avoid bets this time around). Why not stop throwing good money after bad and join us in the flash revolution?

About the Author

Scott Dietzen is the CEO of Pure Storage and a three-time successful entrepreneur with WebLogic, Zimbra, and Transarc.

  • Peter Kerr

    Congratulations Scott and Pure! Well, deserved. It is a pleasure to see others succeed as well.