New Pure Storage CEO On Potential Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Plans, Competing With NetApp, And Choosing A Snappy Nickname
Focus On #AllFlash #Storage Paying Off For @PureStorage While @CharlieGiancarlo has been CEO of #Pure Storage for about three months, since Chairman and former CEO @Scott “Dietz” Dietzen gave up that role, he has yet to get the one-syllable nickname that nearly every Pure Storage employee receives. But that may be the only thing that has not worked for him in his new role. Pure Storage, which went public two years ago but which has yet to show a profit, late last month said it was cash-flow-positive for the first time and will soon be profitable. The company is in the top five list of flash storage vendors and is one of the fastest-growing storage vendors overall. And it is exploring new avenues of growth for its flash storage business including possibly doing more in hyper-converged infrastructure and compute environments. Giancarlo recently spoke with CRN to talk about the future direction of the company. Here’s what he had to say.
CRN: Have you come up with your one-syllable nickname yet?
Giancarlo: Apparently, ‘Charlie.’ We challenged the entire company, and as creative as the team is, they couldn’t beat the 60 years of ‘Charlie’ being my nickname. I’m open to it. And, by the way, the contest is still open if you want to put in a suggestion.
CRN: I’m surprised you don’t use ‘Chuck,’ unless somebody else is using it …
Giancarlo: In one sports team I was in in college they used that. But it never stuck.
CRN: What is Dietz’s (pictured) role now?
Giancarlo: Dietz is chairman. You might also call him ‘ambassador.’ He’s been on the road, meeting with customers and partners, and also been working with us to some extent in terms of strategy. He’s been a great confidant for me as I’m making my way in the early days of a new environment. He’s been quite busy, actually.
Pure Storage is pretty much focused on all-flash storage. Isn’t that a risky strategy for a company looking to really grow and become a major part of the data center infrastructure?
Giancarlo: I’d phrase it in a different way. First of all, if you believe that not just first-tier but tier-two storage is also going to go to flash, it’s not really very narrowing. But if what you’re really asking is, is storage too narrow a category, I do believe that we will expand beyond what is just standard storage as environments [become] much more integrated. Whether it’s converged infrastructure, or hyper-converged infrastructure, or super-converged infrastructure, or whatever version of converged infrastructure you want to identify, we need to become, and we will become, a bigger and bigger part of that.
But I don’t think flash by itself narrows our opportunity. Indeed, I believe that flash is going to continue to come down in price and start to take on more and more workloads that were previously just magnetic [disk-based].
Pure Storage is already in converged infrastructure in partnership with Cisco with FlashStack.
I just believe that customers want more and more simplicity in terms of the way they deploy their compute environments. And so, I’m not announcing anything, but the fact of the matter is that Pure today is, as I’ve said before, we require five to 10 times fewer bodies to manage our product. Well, extending that simplicity into the networking and compute and integrating more is an obvious future direction for us.
One of your competitors, NetApp, just released its hyper-converged infrastructure appliancebased on its SolidFire all-flash storage technology. Do you think that was the right move for NetApp, a storage vendor, to get into hyper-converged infrastructure?
I think that that move is emblematic of what’s happening in the storage and compute industry, which is that it’s become a much more dynamic environment than it was just a few years ago. And I believe that it has opened up opportunities for vendors that were uniquely supplying just one component in an overall compute stack [to now] operate in other environments as well. Only time will tell whether that was the right thing for them to do, and whether or not they will be able to fully execute on that model. But I do think that what it identifies is that the marketplace is open now to new solutions from new vendors. And that’s good for us. And it’s good for companies that can be aggressive and innovative in their R&D, and aggressive in terms of the new architectures that they put in place.
How much of a risk to Pure Storage’s business is the cloud? IDC says the top storage vendors are losing market share to hyper-scalers.
I actually see cloud as an opportunity. About 25 percent of our business is in cloud today. As you’ll note, we haven’t made announcements yet with hyper-scalers, but certainly those discussions are taking place. And we believe we just have a superior offering. And our superior offering is not specifically our hardware. It’s the software that we use to manage the environment and increase the feature sets that we create. And we think that allows us to be a better supplier, both into SaaS companies as well as the social hyper-scalers.
[The cloud] may shift the overall amount of data that’s kept on-prem versus the amount of data that’s kept in the cloud. But I don’t see it as a threat. I see it as an opportunity.
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