SAN FRANCISCO, USA--Pure Storage is looking to win over Asia-Pacific customers with promises to simplify their infrastructure, but acknowledges its exclusive focus on storage is proving a challenge among companies looking for a more complete data centre offering.
Simplicity, performance, and efficiency were widely touted as key product differentiators at the vendor's second annual Accelerate conference here this week. During his keynote, Pure Storage CEO Scott Dietzen said the vendor aimed to "deliver a data platform for the cloud era", pledging to offer robust performance and high availability for key applications such as deep learning and big data analytics.
Its singular focus on enterprise storage, however, had presented some challenges in Asia where it faced competition from more established brands, such as IBM, HPE, and EMC.
Michael Alp, Pure Storage's Asia-Pacific Japan vice president, explained that businesses in some Asian markets still were waiting to see if the price of flash would drop further and working out whether to spend more on CAPEX (capital expense) or take on a longer term OPEX (operating expense) view of their IT investment.
The storage vendor made its foray into the region in 2013, setting up in Korea, Japan, and Australia. Today, its Asia-Pacific team comprised more than 100 employees across 12 countries, including Singapore. It currently did not have field teams in China and India, but was exploring plans to establish direct presence in both markets.
Speaking to ZDNet on the sidelines of the conference, Alp noted that customers that had embarked on an all-flash strategy had achieved significantly better OPEX over time from their asset. This, however, was not an approach all businesses wanted to adopt.
"There are still a lot of customers that prefer to buy disk-based architecture and are more conservative and not willing to disrupt their established operations," he explained. "So, for us, it's really about how quickly or aggressive these companies want to disrupt their data centre operations."
He noted that the likes of IBM, EMC, and HPE had well-established channels and large installed base. "They can constantly provide different funding model versus just storage, whereas we're always competing with just storage," he said, pointing to these vendors' wider portfolios that included servers, networks, and services.
"That's a challenge for us because we're really coming to customers with one data platform, and not a whole data centre offering," Alp said. He added, though, that this underscored the importance of Pure Storage's relationship with Cisco Systems.
The two vendors formed a partnership in December 2014 that had since developed to include "co-innovation and co-creation", including a one-call support line for their customers. Pure Storage products were bundled with Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) and servers, and both companies used a joint channel support as well as leasing and incentive options.
Alp said the partnership with Cisco offered a "more powerful" proposition than "those legacy vendors".
He added that its partnerships with other industry players, which also included Veam and Commvault, further plugged gaps Pure Storage might not be able to fill as a pure-play storage vendor. In fact, its singular focus on providing just one data platform--Purity--presented Pure Storage as an easy vendor to work with, he said.
"Our partners only need to write to one set of APIs, whereas if you're a Dell shop, you have 12 storage products and 36 replication processes and other disparate pieces to pull together," he noted. "We're an efficient model for people to partner with...[and] we're more optimised and faster to market because we're so much simpler."
Simplicity was what Ebates' senior director of technology operations, Rajiv Gupta, was after in a storage infrastructure. The deals and coupons website accounted for 7 percent of e-commerce transactions in the US and ran all structured block data on Pure Storage systems. It used Hadoop for big data processing.
Owned by Japanese e-commerce operator Rakuten, Ebates also had localised sites for Singapore, China, and Korea.
Gupta said he looked for storage systems that were simple to use, especially since he didn't not have a dedicated storage administrator in his team. An all-flash array architecture also provided the necessary scalability and capacity to absorb sudden spikes in requests, without degrading other services, so his team would then have some time to identify the cause of the problem and respond accordingly.
It also delivered significant uptick in performance compared to the company's previous disk-based storage system, he said. Because Ebates was not a large enterprise, he added that it was not crucial to buy from vendors that were able to offer bundled systems, compared to Pure Storage's pure-play offer.
All-flash array, though, remained unconducive for storing images because it does not support deduplication (dedup), he said, adding that it could be ideal if such systems could compress image whilst still maintaining their high performance.
Companies taking back public cloud workloads
Pure Storage on Tuesday also released a study that revealed, 40 percent of businesses worldwide had moved workloads they had put in the public cloud back to an on-premise infrastructure. Conducted by three research houses including Madbox in Asia-Pacific, the study findings were based on 9,302 interviews with IT decision makers in 24 countries.
These businesses, on average, were running 41 percent of their applications with traditional on-premise IT, compared to 26 percent in a public cloud and 24 percent in a private cloud. Some 61 percent said their use of public cloud would increase in the next 18 to 24 months, though, 35 percent also expected their use of traditional on-premise to grow and 52 percent said likewise for public cloud.
In North America, 43 percent had moved some or all of workloads that ran in the public cloud back on-premise. Another 40 percent in Asia-Pacific had done likewise. In addition, 65 percent in EMEA said they had reduced public cloud deployment in the past year due to security concerns.
Furthermore, while 54 percent cited cost savings as the top perceived benefit of public cloud, 29 percent pointed to cost instead as a drawback, "suggesting that costs associated with public cloud are not as clear-cut or compelling as customers may initially think", the report noted.
Dietzen said: "Emerging technologies have started to drive true digital transformation, but businesses remain in a cycle of lure and regret when it comes to public cloud. Rather than being viewed as competing option, companies should embrace cloud and on-premises storage as complementary offerings."
Worldwide, 39 percent of storage ran on traditional on-premise environments, compared to 26 percent on public cloud and 24 percent on private cloud. Over the next 18 to 24 months, though, 56 percent expected to run more storage on public clouds, with 35 percent anticipating the same growth trajectory for traditional on-premise storage.
"Expanding digital footprints and data-intensive workloads from applications like big data and analytics and IoT (Internet of Things) are forcing reassessment of storage needs and driving the need for new technologies and business models," stated the report.
Based in Singapore, Eileen Yu reported for ZDNet from Accelerate 2017 in San Francisco, USA, on the invitation of Pure Storage.