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Pure Storage CEO: ‘The Days Of The Hard Disk In The Data Center Are Over’

Joseph F. Kovar

‘Customers that do not take advantage of Pure’s QLC products to replace disk systems are choosing the more expensive and energy-intensive option,’ says Pure Storage CEO Charles Giancarlo on the company’s third fiscal quarter 2023 financial analyst call.

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Pure Storage seems to have overcome the macroeconomic headwinds impacting many IT vendors to not only enjoy a solid third fiscal quarter 2023, but to also raise its guidance for the year.

In addition, the future also bodes well for Pure Storage given its focus on all-flash storage technology combined with an expected continuing decrease in the cost of NAND storage, leading to the company being able to offer its storage technology at a price that undercuts any advantage hard disk storage technology still offers, said Charles Giancarlo, CEO of the Mountain View, Calif.-based company.

Giancarlo, in his prepared remarks during Wednesday’s third fiscal quarter 2023 quarterly financial conference call, told financial analysts that the cost of NAND storage technology on a per-bit basis continues to approach that of magnetic disks.

[Related: NetApp Faces ‘Current Economic Realities’ As Cloud Growth Stumbles]

That, combined with Pure Storage’s own intellectual property for dealing with low-cost QLC NAND, the company’s QLC-based flash storage systems are now competitive with hybrid disk-based systems on a price-per-bit level years ahead of the commodity crossover point.

“We expect that the currently anticipated improvements in Pure’s NAND economics this coming year will enable Pure to deliver our QLC-based products at prices competitive with most nearline disk arrays on a total cost of ownership basis,” he said. “We believe strongly that the days of the hard disk in the data center are over. Customers that do not take advantage of Pure’s QLC products to replace disk systems are choosing the more expensive and energy-intensive option.”

Giancarlo called out a couple of Pure Storage’s customers by name, particularly Facebook parent company Meta, where Pure shipped offerings for the second phase of Meta’s build-out of its Research SuperCluster, or RSC.

“As a reminder, our shipments for Meta RSC consists of both FlashBlade and FlashArray C,” he said. “Meta relies on Pure FlashBlade to provide lightning-fast data delivery to their Nvidia GPUs, and FlashArray C to provide performance-oriented and cost-effective bulk data storage at one-tenth the space, power and cooling of a disk alternative.”

On a macroeconomic level, Pure Storage continues to see longer sales cycles in the enterprise segment and expects enterprises will continue to exercise spending caution over the next year, Giancarlo said.

That, he said, favors Pure Storage in the quarters ahead given the combination of the company’s Evergreen subscription offerings and its best-in-class power, space, cooling and operating simplicity.

“Given challenging economic and energy situations around the world, more enterprises are focused on total cost of ownership, an area where Pure excels,” he said. “As we look forward, we are keeping our eyes on a number of macroeconomic factors, in particular inflation, slower economic growth and lingering supply chain disruptions. Considering the current economic uncertainty, we plan to thoughtfully invest in our expansion while continuing to deliver strong operating results.”

That should result in continued growth for Pure Storage, Giancarlo said.

“Despite the challenges and uncertainties of the current business environment, we remain confident in our ability to take share and outpace the market while delivering products, solutions and services to customers that exceed their expectations,” he said.

For its third fiscal quarter 2023, which ended Nov. 6, Pure Storage reported total revenue of $676.1 million, up 20.1 percent compared with the $562.7 million the company reported for its third fiscal quarter 2022.

That included product revenue of $431.3 million, up from $374.9 million, and subscription revenue of $244.8 million, up from $187.8 million.

Subscription annual recurring revenue for the quarter was $1.0 billion, up 30 percent year over year.

For the quarter, Pure Storage reported a GAAP loss of $787,000 or 0 cents per share, down significantly from last year’s loss of $28.1 million, or 10 cents per share. On a non-GAAP basis, the company reported net income of $98.1 million, or 31 cents per share, up from last year’s $66.7 million, or 22 cents per share.

Revenue beat analyst expectations by $3.9 million, while non-GAAP earnings per share beat expectations by 6 cents, according to Seeking Alpha.

Looking ahead, Pure Storage raised its fourth fiscal quarter revenue guidance to $810 million, which compares with fiscal fourth-quarter 2022 revenue of $708.6 million. For the full fiscal year 2023, Pure Storage expects revenue of $2.75 billion, compared with last year’s $2.18 billion.

Joseph F. Kovar

Joseph F. Kovar is a senior editor and reporter for the storage and the non-tech-focused channel beats for CRN. He keeps readers abreast of the latest issues related to such areas as data life-cycle, business continuity and disaster recovery, and data centers, along with related services and software, while highlighting some of the key trends that impact the IT channel overall. He can be reached at jkovar@thechannelcompany.com.

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