Pure Storage CEO: Strong Growth Despite Challenging Macro Environment
Joseph F. Kovar
‘Over the last five years, well over 100 customers have chosen FlashBlade to accelerate their AI and machine learning environments. With the introduction of FlashBlade//E, AI customers are able to take advantage of a single operating and management environment for both their hot and their bulk data, dramatically simplifying their data storage infrastructure and reducing its cost and environmental footprint,’ says Pure Storage CEO Charles Giancarlo.
Technology advantages, and not economic or company performance, were top of mind for Pure Storage CEO Charles Giancarlo who said Wednesday that his company was far ahead of its storage industry competitors.
Giancarlo, in his prepared remarks for Pure Storage’s second fiscal quarter 2024 quarterly financial conference call, barely alluded to economic factors when discussing the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company’s results.
“We are pleased with our financial results this quarter,” Giancarlo said. “While the macro environment continued to be challenging, we outpaced our competitors and saw strong growth in our strategic investments, particularly in FlashBlade//S, FlashBlade//E and Evergreen//One.
Instead, Giancarlo said, the company’s quarter results show Pure Storage’s strategy is working and helping it lead the market.
“Pure is delivering extraordinary outcomes for our customers by transforming data storage from a highly fragmented solution set to a single, consistent platform,” he said.
Giancarlo described Pure Storage as the first and only data storage company delivering a single, consistent, non-disruptive, operating and management environment leveraging the advanced flash technology across all data storage needs. For instance, he cited Pure Storage’s recent introduction of its new FlashBlade//E family, which targets unstructured, unified block and file data with a price that is competitive with hard disk-based storage.
“[FlashBlade//E] sales and pipeline have exceeded our expectations, and it is experiencing the fastest growth of all prior new product releases,” he said. “At purchase, FlashBlade//E with three years of Evergreen subscription has an acquisition cost competitive with hard disk-based systems, and has substantially lower operating costs. It enables our customers to move ever more of their cost sensitive workloads to all-flash.”
Giancarlo said Pure Storage will introduce FlashArray//E, a unified block and file all-flash array, later this year. FlashArray//E will target cost effective storage for bulk data for capacities from 1 petabyte to 4 petabytes, he said.
Giancarlo also touted the company’s Purity storage operating system, on which all Pure Storage products are based, as an example of the company’s market leadership.
“Purity [is] the only storage software that operates natively direct to flash, rather than using less efficient, commodity SSDs,” he said. “All of Pure’s products are managed with our Pure1 management system, and have consistent APIs. All of our products support non-disruptive upgrades forever through our Evergreen technology and subscription programs, and are all available to consume as-a-service through Evergreen//One.”
He contrasted that with competing storage vendors who have multiple incompatible hardware and storage technology in their product lines.
“The storage portfolio of legacy data storage providers was generally assembled by acquisition, and are collections of disparate, inconsistent environments,” he said. “That approach left customers with a complex infrastructure with multiple software operating environments, with different management systems, and multiple differing operational processes. As a result, legacy storage environments are complex, they vary for each use case, they require downtime for upgrades, and require forklift replacements roughly every five years.”
Pure Storage also sees continued momentum with its cloud strategy, an example being the recent introduction of an expanded, multi-year partnership with Microsoft Azure services and its Azure VMware Solution using Pure Cloud Block Store as a way to drive faster, more cost effective adoption of cloud services, Giancarlo said.
“In addition to operating in the cloud, our cloud operating model allows our customers to operate their storage environment like the cloud, to offer services like the cloud, to better build for the cloud, and also to consume storage like the cloud,” he said. “Pure Fusion enables our customers to manage the Pure portfolio as a fleet, as an integrated pool of storage across data centers and across clouds.”
Giancarlo said the company’s Evergreen//One storage as a service offering lets customers consume storage like the cloud, with the ability to store data whenever and wherever needed.
“Our Evergreen technology and programs have revolutionized the industry and provide Pure a sustainable competitive advantage: ending traditional legacy hardware replacement practices for customers and turning every sale into a Storage-as-a-Service relationship,” he said.
Pure Storage has also embraced artificial intelligence, which presents the company with two sets of opportunities, Giancarlo said. The first is the ability to supply storage products AI training environments such as the creation of large language models, and the second is to support enterprises preparing their data architecture for AI inference, or their own large language models, he said.
The second fiscal quarter saw Pure Storage win a large eight-digit deal for a customer to use the company’s FlashBlade//S for generative AI in a production environment, Giancarlo said. The company also saw multiple wins in early AI development environments with its Portworx Kubernetes technology, he said.
“Over the last five years, well over 100 customers have chosen FlashBlade to accelerate their AI and machine learning environments,” he said. “With the introduction of FlashBlade//E, AI customers are able to take advantage of a single operating and management environment for both their hot and their bulk data, dramatically simplifying their data storage infrastructure and reducing its cost and environmental footprint.”
Giancarlo also said Pure Storage, which bases its all-flash arrays on its own Purity direct-to-flash management and its own high-density DirectFlash Modules instead of commodity SSDs to provide, will enhance those modules’ price and performance advantage over SSDs even further.
“We have been shipping 48TB DFMs for the last three years, and we will introduce our 75TB DFM later this year,” he said. “Today, Pure’s DFMs are two-to-four times denser than the largest hard disks and SSDs in competitive use, and our advantage in density is accelerating. Our roadmap calls for a 150TB DFM next year, and a 300TB DFM by 2026. [This] will enable us to increase our competitiveness in the industry by a wide margin, not only in performance and cost, but also in energy efficiency and e-waste reduction.”
For its second fiscal quarter 2024, which ended August 6, Pure Storage reported revenue of $688.7 million, up 6.5 percent over the $646.8 million the company reported for its second fiscal quarter 2023.
That included product revenue of $399.7 million, down from last year’s $414.6 million, and subscription services revenue of $288.9 million, up from $232.2 million. It also included subscription annual recurring revenue of $1.2 billion, up 27 percent over last year.
Pure Storage also reported a GAAP net loss of $7.1 million or 2 cents per share, a significant change from last year’s net income of $10.9 million. On a non-GAAP basis, the company reported a net income of $111.1 million or 34 cents per share, up from last year’s $101.6 million or 32 cents per share.
Looking ahead, Pure Storage expects revenue for its third fiscal quarter 2024 of $760 million, which would be a significant jump from the $676.1 million the company reported for the same quarter last year.