Pure Storage CEO Giancarlo: COVID-19 A Call To Modernize, Move To Cloud

Charles Giancarlo used his Wednesday keynote at the virtual Pure Accelerate conference to discuss how the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic opens the door to full-scale cloud adoption and described his company's cloud-focused strategy.


The crisis caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic means that the nature of work has changed suddenly and probably forever.

That's the message from Charles Giancarlo, CEO of Pure Storage, who told the online audience of the company's virtual Pure Accelerate conference that the pandemic has set the stage for a massive rearchitecture of businesses' IT infrastructure.

"Your needs have changed as a result, and more than ever you need remote capabilities that scale," Giancarlo said. "You need more automation and consolidation. And [you need] flexible economics and infrastructure."

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Businesses have been turning their focus to urgent priorities and re-evaluating their IT investment initiatives with a focus on digital transformation during the pandemic, and the move toward the cloud has been accelerated by COVID-19, Giancarlo said.

"Standardization, automation and as-a-service delivery need to be accelerated," he said. "In this difficult economic environment, reducing cost and risk is crucial. You need environments that are simple, reliable, and which provide you maximum flexibility for change in the future."

Pure Storage is delivering what Giancarlo called the “Modern Data Experience” with the company's Pure-as-a-Service offering that delivers those capabilities and others in a much more efficient fashion than competing storage systems, Giancarlo said.

"Only Pure delivers sophisticated storage systems that can be installed from box to full production in less than two hours," he said. "And all of our products can be managed online, even from a mobile phone."

Pure Storage's Purity software platform offers consistent, simple and cloud-like performance across all of the company's products, Giancarlo said.

"And we continue to invest the highest percentage of revenue in R&D for data storage and management technology because we believe that innovation in data storage is essential to solving tomorrow's digital transformation challenges," he said.

Pure Storage used last year's Pure Accelerate conference to introduce its Modern Data Experience strategy, which is based on helping businesses transform for the cloud era and enable enterprise capabilities in cloud storage.

The goal is to help storage teams transition into data service providers with block, file and object storage that can be consumed via API-driven services, Giancarlo said. Pure Storage's Purity software lets this happen with as-a-service APIs, management and services across clouds, he said.

The Modern Data Experience was aimed at helping take Pure Storage well into its second decade in the market, and is tied to what Giancarlo called his three key storage imperatives.

The first imperative is to secure a company's foundation and focus on flexibility, Giancarlo said. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a rush to respond to unique IT requirements, but the offerings should be chosen with a long-term focus, he said.

"COVID-19 has put all business continuity plans into practice simultaneously," he said. "We've learned that business continuity is more than just surviving an event. It's now about having the flexibility to shift how you do business rapidly. Securing your IT foundation, your base, to deliver technological solutions to business problems is critical to making sure you can deal with the rapidly changing nature of this crisis and the COVID economy."

Pure Storage wants to help customers understand how Pure-as-a-Service provides flexibility by offering the first three months of a 12-month commitment at no cost, he said.

The second key storage imperative is to drive new efficiency in productivity and automate everything as a way to elevate human efficiency, Giancarlo said.

The pandemic has made it obvious that the most important considerations in the data center are human efficiency and infrastructure flexibility.

"Dollars per terabyte is important, but not if you are forced to buy more terabytes than you actually use," he said. "Or if low initial costs lock you into the present without future flexibility."

Human efficiency is eroded by complexity and unreliability, and can be countered by elegant design and high reliability, or by the number of petabytes managed per administrator, he said. "If storage is so elegant that it manages itself, then it improves human efficiency," he said.

Efficiency also stems from using the same storage software across the entire hybrid cloud environment, he said. "Pure-as-a-Service means that you only pay for the storage that you use, whether on-prem or in the cloud," he said.

Imperative number three is to recognize that the status quo is no more.

Customers who have been looking to build a hybrid cloud or create a modern container environment have found it challenging to refocus their teams, Giancarlo said.

"I've heard a lot of people say that this crisis will help accelerate the move to the cloud," he said. "And I very much agree. But cloud by definition is not a destination. It's an operating model. And it's the right one for a very simple reason, which is imperative number two: It's elegant and efficient for human capital."

The cloud provides automation and orchestration with APIs across the data center and clouds, it is available with a pay-as-you-go consumption model, and the underlying hardware is constantly improving without disruption to application, Giancarlo said.

"Cloud automation is an area where Pure excels," he said. "Whether you are automating storage for databases, applications, VMs [virtual machines] or containers, the time is now to invest in automation as part of your full-stack infrastructure strategy. Storage should just meld seamlessly via API into your full-stack infrastructure, whether that's VMware Cloud Foundation, Red Hat OpenShift, Google Anthos or any other orchestration platform."