Look around. The need to store data has grown exponentially these last few years, and it keeps growing at a steady clip. But the technology to serve large datacenter needs hasn't developed as quickly. Hard disk storage has been the most economic solution thus far.
Of course, Moore's Law eventually slides up to the table and wins the pot. And if Pure Storage plays its cards right, the storage sector may soon witness the crossover point when technology can be distributed and adopted more widely at a lower price point.
The Mountain View, Calif., all-flash enterprise storage company, which was founded in 2009 and officially came out of stealth mode a few weeks ago, hopes to shake up the storage scene with its flagship Pure Storage FlashArray FA-300 Series. The company claimes its Pure Storage FlashArray is more than 10 times faster and 10 times more space- and power-efficient than traditional disk storage and offers a lower price per gigabyte than disk-centric arrays.
Based on the funding Pure Storage has gotten so far, this may be more than just talk. The company recently raised $30 million in a round of Series C funding led by Redpoint Ventures, Greylock Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, and angel investors, bringing its total capital investments up to $55 million. In a sweeter nod, the flash-memory heavyweight Samsung Electronics signed up for a broader strategic partnership, tossing an unspecified investment into the $30 million funding pool and supplying the startup with solid-state drives that use its chips.
“We are well positioned to have a profoundly transformative impact on the evolution of the data storage industry,” Scott Dietzen, CEO of Pure Storage, said when it announced the funding. “Customers are currently spending about $20 billion per year on performance disk storage. They ought to be getting more for their money. By breaking the cost barrier to mainstream datacenter adoption of flash, we are serving the market’s interests far more effectively than disk-centric alternatives are capable of doing.”
I'm no storage expert, but it's easy to see a clear need for this jump. Individuals, companies, and large-scale enterprises can't resist the urge to archive content in all its formats. Data storage requirements are frequently escalating. Likewise, the onslaught of consumer electronics — tablets, smartphones, digital cameras, MP3s — has shown how flash storage can work on a smaller, handheld scale. This has whet our appetites for an enterprise-level solution that is equally fast, light, and energy-efficient.
Whether Pure Storage creates a broad disruption in the storage sector — which, until recently, has been relatively stagnant compared with other electronics niches — doesn't really matter. The point is that change is coming. The industry should get itself ready for another potential step change. If it's not Pure Storage, it will be someone else.
Enterprise Strategy Group Analysts Mark Peters and Steve Duplessie talk about that exact trend in their report, “How Economics Alter the Storage Landscape: The Financial Leverage of Storing Less Will Win.” Here's the gist:
Storage demand continues to grow rapidly at a rate that exceeds its relative price decline. It is not a sustainable model: data growth trends are driving the need for another game-changing event. Data growth is outstripping IT CAPEX budgets, available IT space, management capabilities, and OPEX thresholds and the pressures to manage more data in cloud environments only makes the challenge more acute. We are approaching — some users are even at — a breaking point. As a result, data storage must undergo a massive leap in efficiency or the business advantages that could be realized from all that data will be lost.
Hard to argue with that logic: Figure out how to change in a way that meets demand, or go the way of the dinosaur.
As always, feel free to weigh in on how you see Pure Storage's chances of success, or comment on storage trends you're seeing.