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COLUMN: Should You Bet Your Storage Practice On Pure Storage?

The Channel Company's Executive Chairman Robert Faletra wonders if Pure Storage considers the channel a strategic partner in the way rivals Dell and HPE do.

Storage has been one of those arenas in high-tech that never stops evolving. Never stops refining a different way of performing and always seems to be able to support multiple players in a world where many other parts of the business have consolidated down to a few significant players.

But it’s not exciting. Maybe it doesn’t need to be because it’s a money-maker and we are constantly in need of more of it.

But CRN Senior Editor Joe Kovar’s recent coverage of Pure Storage CEO Charlie Giancarlo has me thinking. Maybe it can be. And if it is, which is the right vendor partner or partners to go to market with?

Giancarlo argues that storage industry disruption is just beginning. To me, it’s always been in disruption mode because it has always been in an evolutionary mode and is an area that can continue to bring significant technology advances to market.

If you contrast it with the PC, where it’s very hard to make significant advances, storage is a far more innovative category.

But where is the exciting innovation of the future going to come from, and does Pure Storage have an advantage over its competitors?

Giancarlo seems to be messaging that it’s all about the data and the ability to get at it, massage it, move it and easily benefit from its inherent embedded intelligence.

“What is the one environment that has not really become virtualized, has not been made able to be moved between different environments? It’s largely data,” he said. Is he right about that? It’s a technical question, but when someone says “not really” it means it has been, just not in the way they would like.

He is correct that dealing with data is hard—it’s not easily moved nor easily analyzed. If you haven’t already done so, it’s worth reading Kovar’s story and understanding what Giancarlo is saying he believes is most important and what needs to be done to make data and storage far more responsive to the needs of the customer. But does Pure Storage have an advantage in all this? Are Giancarlo and his team the ones to bet on moving forward?

I’m not so sure. It has real competition that is well equipped to deliver on future performance both technically and, more importantly, with programs and services that help the strategic solution provider base deliver customer satisfaction.

I’ve seen lots of vision over my 35 years of chronicling the high-tech market. Vision is important because it rallies the troops internally and elsewhere, but execution and understanding how to compensate and motivate the indirect sales channel are equally if not more important. That’s where Pure Storage is at a disadvantage and looks outgunned and not all that interested.

You have to scratch your head and wonder if Pure Storage considers the channel a strategic partner in the way rivals Dell Technologies and Hewlett Packard Enterprise do.

Is that Giancarlo’s fault or is it the fault of Michael Sotnick, the company’s global vice president of partners and services development? I can’t answer that because I don’t walk the Pure Storage hallways. I do know, however, that Dell and HPE are all in on channel engagement and partnerships because it is impressively evident and driven by their CEOs, Antonio Neri at HPE and Michael Dell. It filters down through the entire organization and we in turn see it here at The Channel Company.

I’m not seeing anything close to that level of commitment from Pure Storage. That’s not because its competitors dwarf it. It’s because they work at it and understand how to leverage the capabilities of the channel to build stronger results for the customer.

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